How cooking home-grown food and painting a koala is helping save an endangered turtle


It seems a bit confusing, doesn’t it? How on earth would cooking home-grown food and painting on a fibreglass koala help to provide a better future for an endangered turtle? Well this is the feel-good story from the 2020 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge. It is also a story about the power of partnerships.

Through Kreative Koalas students and teachers at St Brigid’s Primary School at Raymond Terrace researched 12 endangered species and voted on one to become their school mascot.

“The Hunter River Turtle won by a landslide. Our Year 6 students, who are painting their koala as part of the Kreative Koalas program run by Picture You in Agriculture, have completely dedicated their submission to highlighting the plight of the turtle,” Aboriginal Education Teacher Kristen Jones says.

Investigating Global Goal 15  (Life on the Land)  and to learn more about the local turtle St Brigid’s enlisted the help of Jane Lloyd-Jones from Hunter Local Land Services, which has been a long and generous partner of Picture You in Agriculture.

“Through Jane’s EnviroStories program, one of our Year 4 students is writing a narrative about the plight of the Hunter River Turtle and some of our Year 5 students are putting together an infographic about the turtle, which our local newspaper has agreed to run as a half page advertisement to educate the local community,” Kristen says.

Jane worked with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment biodiversity and threatened species team in the Hunter, to coordinate a visit that included researcher Andrew Steed and a day of organised activities based around the Hunter River Turtle for 120 of the students.

“I have loved working with the students from St Brigid’s. I was so excited when the students voted for the Hunter River turtle as their school mascot and after providing a presentation to students about the turtles’ habitat and human impacts on river water quality, I was overwhelmed with questions by the students wanting to learn MORE!” Jane says.

It was then time for the second partnership to swing into gear. As part of OzHarvest’s FEAST program students at St Brigid’s investigated Global Goals 2, 12 and 13  and planted a vegetable garden during Term 3. Using the cooking kit provided by OzHarvest they were then able to hold three cooking days utilising their home-grown produce. Items made were sold at the school canteen.

“All funds raised were dedicated to the Hunter River Turtle and we are thrilled to say we have made a $300 donation to the Australian Reptile Park and the work it does to protect the species,” Kristen says.

On December 3 Kristen and St Brigid’s students travelled to the Australian Reptile Park to make their donation in person to Tim Faulkner. They were given a tour of the new turtle facilities nearing completion, and looked at a successful clutch of Manning River turtles in anticipation of how the breeding program will work.

“Tim tells us our $300 will go directly to the care and breeding program of the Hunter River Turtle. The whole Year 6 cohort is extremely proud of their achievements and our school has gone turtle mad,” Kristen says.

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Want to following their learning journey – it must be so much fun being part of this “sharing is caring” school

Mega-congratulations to the students at St Brigid’s and to the power of partnerships with Hunter Local Land Services, OzHarvest and NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. What a tremendous way to help save our endangered native wildlife.

#KreativeKoalasKids #Changemakers #ProjectBasedLearning #GlobalGoals

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