A brighter, more sustainable future – Next gen solutions

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We are nearing the wrap up of our first sustainability in schools pilot programs – Young Sustainability Ambassadors and Kreative Koalas,  and we are super stoked to have met and worked with fine teachers, students and ambassadors in the Illawarra and Sydney region who are passionate about the future of our planet and what we can do to move towards a more sustainable future.

Just to recap…

The programs, the first of their kind in Australia in integrating cross-generational learning and connection, brings conversations about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to schools, and makes taking action on the goals accessible at a local level for global impact.

With funding from NSW Family and Community Services, and in partnership with Picture You in Agriculture, the Young Sustainability Ambassadors program empowers a generation of young professionals and change-makers working in the sustainability sector, and long-term community leaders – Landcare Legends – working in Landcare and sustainability to craft and deliver powerful stories for change to inspire a younger generation.

The Kreative Koalas program inspires and encourages a younger generation to investigate global and local sustainability issues and reflect on ways of creating change for a sustainable future through art and multimedia. The program allows for conservation and sustainability conversations to be communicated to far-reaching audiences of youth through:

  • School creative arts projects
  • Hands on community sustainability projects for impact

These two signature programs hand in hand connect students to young professionals to Landcare Legends in communities.

What went down…

Over the last two weeks we have been touring schools who took part in the pilot program, checking out the impact of the program overall and the results have been mind-blowing.

Meet Bulli High School

Inspired by Young Sustainability Ambassadors Jess Madsen, Josie Beissel and Landcare Legend Joe Carter, Bulli High embraced one of the biggest issues of our time, marine debris, plastic pollution and waste.

“The Ambassadors brought a lot of energy and connections to broaden our impact and continued involvement in the broader community” – Bulli High School Teacher.

Disappointed by the amount of rubbish surrounding the school in the local environment, students who are part of the school ‘Green Team’ took on cleaning up the local creek and used the rubbish they collected to create their Koala artwork.

“I live in Stanwell Tops and in nature. In my area there is so much wildlife but coming down here to the school and closer to the beach, there is a lot of rubbish and no wildlife. I just want to see that come back and do something.” –Bulli High School student.

The team has engaged over 150 students and have adopted their local beach, Sandon Point, to make sure it is kept clean and looked after. What a bunch of legends!

Meet Keira High School

Equally inspired by the mammoth waste issue we face as a society and via their interactions with Ambassadors Lachlan Hutton, Dan Simpson and Landcare Legend Sarah Anderson, year 10 science students at Keira High School decided to tackle the issue in-house and look at what the school was doing in terms of waste management, and how this could be improved.

From conducting a waste audit to interviewing staff and cleaners about the amount of waste which goes through the school on a daily basis, students started to question the current systems they have in place for coping with such levels.

“A lot of the waste was food waste and stuff that could have been recycled.”

“Looking at the waste which was generated just in our school and then thinking about how much must be in the world, this project made me realise what a global issue it really is. I’d like to do my bit in the community, we can all do our bit.” – Keira High Student

The artwork was inspired again by the impacts on our oceans and the flow on impacts on our environment.

The school intends to continue to carry out waste audits and educate the entire school about minimising waste through personal action. We can all do our bit, and we couldn’t agree more!

Meet Gwynneville Public School

“I don’t want to see the world wasted and I want somewhere to live!” – Year 6 student, Gwynneville Public School.

Now these little legends had some BIG, awesome ideas. And when you sit in a room full of bright, enthusiastic young people, you can’t help but feel hopeful for the future of our planet.

Inspired by Young Sustainability Ambassadors Oliver Batten, Julia Barnes and Landcare Legend Adam Woods, nothing got their noodles ticking over than heading out into the great outdoors to do a beach clean up.

“I didn’t know how bad it was, and had never noticed the plastic as much. But after the beach clean-up with Adam, I now pick up the rubbish every time I go to the beach. Going to the beach was my favourite activity.” – Year 6 student, Gwynneville Public School.

The students also stared to question how they can reduce litter around the school and were inspired by the concept of upcycling to re-purpose items for use rather than see them flicked into landfill.

The Koala, a stunning story of our connection to the land and water and the consideration and responsibility we all must take on to protect our planet and reduce our impacts.

Meet Gerringong Public School

To the south of the Illawarra, Gerringong Public School was another incredible school taking action on recycling and waste management in particular looking at setting up a TerraCycle scheme, using the Koala!

Inspired by Young Sustainability Ambassadors Amanda Prior and Jaime Askew, and Landcare Legend Penny Sadubin, students went into a deep dive about sustainability and waste management through waste audit activities and looking at the whole school waste-management system. Brainstorming ways to improve and how they could bring staff and students along on the journey.

What a cool idea!

Meet Hawkesbury High School

Surrounded by agriculture and an ever encroaching urban landscape, Hawkesbury High School students decided to focus on biodiversity, and in particular the importance of pollinators in the landscape.

“I wasn’t even aware of what species we had on our school property and how important they are in the landscape and for our food systems. We have since put in habitat hollows, bee hotels and are looking to educate the entire school about how important bats, birds and bees are.” – Hawkesbury High School student.

Visits from Young Sustainability Ambassadors Karl Williams, Elisha Duxbury and Landcare Legend Angela Cook, inspired ideas of corridor connectivity and biodiversity enhancement and their Kreative Koala artwork tells the story of the interconnectedness of the land, animals, indigenous culture and biodiversity.

The wrap up…

Schools, ambassadors, local legends, community and award sponsors will be coming together on the 29th of November to celebrate the great learnings and achievements of the program at the University of Wollongong Innovation Campus in Fairy Meadow, NSW. At the event we will showcase the final artworks, meet the next generation of change-makers and hear what they have to say about the future of our community and the planet. From our end, it looks pretty bright.

Our many thanks…

Phew! It’s been a big year. Thanks to all the amazing people who have contributed to this pilot program. It has been so inspiring to see what can happen when you bring generations together to look after the very thing which keeps us alive, our planet. To all the Young Sustainability Ambassadors and Landcare Legends who’ve put in an insane amount of energy and passion (above and beyond what we ever expected) to support each other and our local schools. To the teachers and students who embraced the programs with open minds, you have overwhelmed us with excitement and inspiration. Legends!

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