School Students Learning and Creating to Improved Koala Conservation
This Program is a joint venture between the Koala Recovery Partnership, the Tacking Point Lions Club, the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. It is a novel community engagement and education program that asks primary and secondary school students “What Would You Do to Save the Koala?”. Students are informed through a variety of resources, prepared by the Koala Recovery Partnership and project partners, about the threats that face koalas and then given a project-based learning exercise which will seek to improve koala conservation. The project can take the form of artwork, an invention, a documentary to educate or inspire, a pledge by the school to change citizen behavoiur….. the options are endless! While the program is not a competition, there are a range of prizes on offer to encourage participation, including one primary and one secondary school receiving a Hello Koala sculpture painted in their school uniform! Each participating school also receives a half-size Hello Koala Sculpture for their library. These sculptures will be designed and painted by the children and will reflect what they have learnt about koalas over the project. An exhibition will be held in Term 4 to showcase the Koala Smart projects and sculptures. The projects seeks to engage children, and in turn their families, about the threats that face koalas and thereby result in actual on-ground changes in community behaviour. Who knows what creative ideas those young minds will come up with to help save the koala! In 2019, the program was adopted by 26 schools across the Hastings-Macleay region. It is anticipated that the program will become an annual or biannual event into the future.
“I haven’t seen a project welcomed so well and so enthusiastically by the staff. We have koalas living about the school and within the school ground. The kids have always had a connection with koalas, so the whole school was keen to come on board. … This program is about making a difference so even if only a few classes are involved, the awareness will be transferred throughout the whole school and even the surrounding community” Phil Harris, Principal, Tacking Point Public School
“Some of the students had already seen the panted koala sculptures around Port Macquarie and were excited to be involved in a community project that they had heard about. By this class engaging in the project, we hope that other students in the school may be inspired to ask questions and be educated by their fellow students on the threats facing koalas in this area…”. Hannah Pike, Teacher, Melville High School
“What a great opportunity to engage students across a number of Key Learning Areas” Claire Goldie, St Josephs Regional College
“Thank you so much for inclusion in this wonderful project. We are all excited and looking forward to the experience” Nikki Cochrane, Principal, Herons Creek Public
“Hastings Secondary College Westport Campus is surrounded on three sides by Koala habitat. The students appreciate they are in a unique situation where they can cohabitate with koalas in their school environment….. This is a great opportunity to get the college community on board with the vital work that this project presents. The survival of the koala population will depend very much on the successful education of how to protect and maintain habitat and by doing so, ensuring that the koala remains a part of Australian culture.” Ian Ross, Principal, Westport Campus, Hastings Secondary College