CASE STUDY
Tree planting for resilience

Age Groups: 7-13 | 13-18

Grant Name: Junior Landcare Resilience Project

School: William Ross State High School, Oonoonba State School, St Benedict’s Catholic School and Ryan Catholic College

Grant Sponsor: South32

Project Overview:

Two school tree planting events held in Townsville, and with support from South32, have helped motivate and support students into developing their environmental abilities and sharing their voice. These culminating events have helped to bring schools, the community and Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc together to plant trees to improve their environment.

One of the events was held at William Ross State High School with students from Oonoonba State School also attending; and the other event was held at Ryan Catholic College with students from St Benedict’s Catholic School.

The tree planting days brought together primary school students who had worked earlier in the year in Townsville in Junior Landcare’s ‘Enhancing student resilience through creating butterfly gardens’ pilot project. These students collaborated in designing and planting a butterfly garden through a series of workshops at their schools with the guidance and support of Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc. With a concept developed by Capricornia Catchments Inc .workshops were designed and held to help students build their resilience to disasters by engaging them in on-ground environmental activities, yoga, mindfulness and art activities.

Over 100 primary and high school students attended these events, giving them the opportunity to be immersed in environmental tasks, as well as work with local environmental leaders and be inspired to take action.

Environmental Outcomes

Students were greeted with a Welcome to Country from the Bindal Traditional Owner Group at William Ross State High School and the Wulgurukaba Traditional Owner group at Ryan Catholic College. These engaging welcomes helped to bring the students together to recognise and appreciate the significance of the land they are on, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, perspectives and histories.

Mini workshops were held throughout the morning on Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge, tree planting, seed paper making and yoga to help drive the passion to develop further environmental projects, connect with their community groups and peers, and build resilience.

Cultural knowledge shared by local Aboriginal leaders from Townsville-based Wulgurukaba Walkabouts inspired students to connect to, and respect Country, as well as the importance of continuing global stewardship.

Students planted over 100 native trees over the two events with specialist advice from Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare. As a result, these trees will help to bring many future environmental benefits to their school grounds. The events gave students the opportunity to see landcare in action and build connections in their community on their school grounds, while building their resilience.

Educational Outcomes

The highlight of the day for many students was the sharing session, where students from each primary school shared insights on the development of their new butterfly garden and connected with peers from the high school to help motivate their own environmental projects. They shared photos and discussed how they had researched and developed the butterfly gardens to create biodiverse habitats to attract local butterfly species. Plenty of opportunities to ask questions really helped students develop leadership skills during the mini workshops.

A representative from South32, who generously funded each of the tree-planting events, said, “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to participate in the event. It was fantastic to see how schools are integrating sustainability into their curriculum.”

Conclusion

Students have learnt so much from participating in the tree planting events as well as developing their disaster resilience skills.

A student from Ryan Catholic College said, “I learnt a lot more than I ever could have expected about the environment, my own contribution, spirituality and cultural knowledge. I didn’t even know what a butterfly garden was before I attended. It was great having a bunch of bright kids show me up and teach me about something I never would’ve learnt about.”

“Through mindfulness and relaxation, we were able to connect with ourselves and the land. I also gained lots of tips on how to avoid feeling stressed and similar emotions.” said another Ryan Catholic College student.

As Ryan Catholic College teacher Kiri Lucas reflected from participating on the day “It was exciting to see students learn about the connection between where we are and how we feel and that when we care for the environment, we are caring for ourselves. These students can also feel part of a community that cares about sustainability and this is vital because we know that a sense of belonging builds resilience.”

Bringing schools together for peer to peer learning and working across the community, with artists, Traditional Owners, yoga practitioners and landcare is helping not only individuals, but communities and environments increase their connection, understanding and resilience.