Students will be showcasing the Bundaberg Region’s Reef Guardian and sustainability work at the upcoming Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist Science and Sustainability Showcase.
Kalkie State School and Bundaberg Christian College have been invited to present at the Brisbane event on 14 June at the State Library of Queensland.
Students have been supported since 2004 by the Bundaberg Region Reef Guardian Council and the Department of Environment and Science Mon Repos Turtle Centre.
Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science Leanne Linard said she was pleased that these leading schools would have a chance to share their great experience in sustainability and citizen science projects with others.
“I congratulate them on their many endeavours to protect the environment, and their work on citizen science initiatives which will help scientists with their research, while extending the students’ scientific skills,” Ms Linard said.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said showcasing the science and sustainability work of the region’s Reef Guardian schools to other Queensland students and teachers was a wonderful opportunity.
“It has been inspiring having our Reef Guardian schools working together with our Reef Guardian Council and with the Department of Environment and Science, for the conservation and protection of our globally important endangered loggerhead turtles and for the sustainability of our environment,” he said.
Mon Repos a focus for Reef Guardian leaders
Reef Guardian leaders recently visited Mon Repos rangers to see how they could help.
Year 6 Kalkie State School Reef Guardian leader Luisa Morrison-Pelusi said plenty of information was gained out of the excursion.
“The impact of helium balloon releases and plastic bags on the endangered loggerhead turtles, marine animals, shorebirds and many other native animals, encouraged students to act, to try to make a difference,” Luisa said.
Prior to the thin plastic bag ban, students learned how bad plastic was for turtles, seabirds and many creatures and how it can take between 20 to 500 years to decompose.
“Plastic bags look like jellyfish to turtles and plastic breaks up into microplastics that animals think is food,” Luisa said.
“So, we made Fantastic Not Plastic cotton reusable shopping bags to promote using cloth instead of plastic.
“We sent one to Dr Jane Goodall and gave one to His Majesty King Charles.
“We also wrote persuasive letters to the Bundaberg Mayor which resulted in the ban of helium balloon releases by Bundaberg Regional Council.
“Dark skies and Cutting the Glow is something we are working on with the Department of Environment and Science rangers because artificial light disorientates turtles and impacts other animals too.”
Year 6 Kalkie State School Reef Guardian Leader Ryan Kissell said there other projects were also on the agenda.
“We are also working with Dr Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program and recently participated in a live interactive with an American Bee scientist,” he said.
High school students delve into sustainability practices
Bundaberg Christian College also has a history of implementing sustainability practices as a school.
In 2016, it designed and installed a ground-breaking solar energy system with solar battery backup which was the largest hybrid system at an Australian school at the time.
Year 8 Bundaberg Christian College Reef Guardian leader Samantha Thompson said the school promoted innovative sustainability practices and created a new elective subject for Middle Years students titled ‘Sustainable Solutions'.
“In this subject we design solutions to existing problems with a focus on sustainability and being good stewards for future generations,” she said.
Students have also taken excursions to Mon Repos and Lady Musgrave to extend their science knowledge through the Citizen Science programs.
Year 10 select students continue this learning with the support of Science Under Sail, as they work with scientists to collect data on seagrass distribution along the Great Barrier Reef.
“In 2022, our Reef Guardian leaders reached out to Maggie Douglas, a local Gubbi Gubbi Indigenous artist and winner of the 2021 NAIDOC week poster competition to commission our own Bundaberg Christian College Reef Guardian artwork,” Samantha said.
“We are lucky where we live because we have the endangered loggerhead turtles that nest and hatch on our beach at Mon Repos, as well as the Great Barrier Reef just off our coast.
“We live on a global treasure.”
Bundaberg Christian College Year 8 Reef Guardian leader Andy-Maree Jacobsen added that it was an exciting opportunity for the schools to represent the Bundaberg Region at the Science and Sustainability Showcase in Brisbane.
In 2003 the Australian Government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority started the Reef Guardian Schools program to encourage schools to get involved in marine science, sustainability and to encourage conservation and protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the program which includes Reef Guardian Schools, Fishers, and Councils.