CASE STUDY
Building biodiversity role models
Wodonga students working with yorta yorta artist

Age Groups: 7-13 | 13-18

Grant Name: 2019 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants

School: Wodonga

Grant Sponsor: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Project Overview

To become better biodiversity role models and help educate their peers about the importance of biodiversity and conservation, the Sustainability Student Leaders at Catholic College Wodonga wanted to learn more about local Threatened Species via a series of workshops.

To achieve this, the school applied for and received a Victorian Junior Landcare Grant late 2019. But with Victorian schools in remote learning mode for the majority of 2020 due to COVID-19, the school wasn’t able to complete their project until early 2021.

Environmental Outcomes

In the Nest Box training workshop, students learned about the importance of hollows for local biodiversity and helped make nest boxes. They were trained in how to use trail and pole cameras so they can visit nest box areas and monitor them long-term to provide valuable information about their use.

The nest boxes have been donated to Trust for Nature, to support the nest box programs in the Wodonga and Huon Creek area. "I learned so much today, I can't wait until we get to go out and start seeing what moves into our nest boxes," said one of the students.

Students will be involved in nest box monitoring at local sites in future, and will continue to educate and promote biodiversity to their peers and wider community.

They focused on Squirrel Gliders as this population have been significantly impacted by loss of tree hollows as a result of residential developments expanding in this region. Students also learned about possums, antechinus, phascogales (tuans) and bird species that require hollows. The school aims to have an ongoing partnership with landholders and Huon Creek Landcare so they can continue to support the important environmental work in this region.

Student holding snake with educator supervising

A Threatened Species animal incursion workshop conducted by Reptile Encounters, allowed students to learn about locally threatened species in an engaging, hands on way.

Educational Outcomes

A Threatened Species animal incursion workshop conducted by Reptile Encounters, allowed students to learn about locally threatened species in an engaging, hands on way. The workshop presenter commented, “This session has been one of the most rewarding presentations I have ever done, the students were so engaged and asked great questions.”

The workshops aligned with areas of the Victorian Curriculum including; Science Understanding (human impacts on ecosystems, modelling to examine population change, how Australian organisms are adapted for their environment, food webs and species interactions, the impact of introduced species).

Working with Yorta Yorta artist Troy Firebrace to design and paint a sustainability mural while learning about Indigenous culture and the significance of biodiversity to Aboriginal people. This workshop provided an opportunity for the school’s Aboriginal students and other students to actively be involved in a project that celebrated their culture and care of biodiversity as something to be learned from.

Conclusion

A teacher coordinating this overall project said, “The day generated a great buzz around the school community, and very successfully promoted our Sustainability Team to other students. We have had a number of students wanting to join, and our current students have grown so much in their leadership and confidence.

“This has been a great step in changing our school culture to have conservation and sustainability at the forefront of our decisions and actions.”

Photo at top: Students working with a Yorta Yorta artist to design and paint a sustainability mural while learning about Indigenous culture and the significance of biodiversity to Aboriginal people.