Partnerships for the Goals with Catholic Earthcare

Schools involved in the 2022 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future challenge are well advanced on their SDG journey of discovery and are in the process of designing and delivering their Community Action Project (CAP). To empower students’ further Action4Agriculture connects them with similar sustainability programs, for alone we are smart but together we are brilliant.

Let’s meet Catholic Earthcare, which delivers the sustainability message and SDGs into Catholic schools across Australia.

The Catholic Earthcare Schools program “responds to the ‘cry of the earth’ to safeguard creation and provide a voice for victims of environmental injustice.”

In 2015 Pope Francis sent an appeal to Catholics around the world through Laudato Si’, which was a papal communication calling for environmental care, prayer and action. In 2020 he created a seven year action plan to care for our common home, with goals addressing the response to the cry of the earth, a response to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, adoption of sustainable lifestyles, ecological education, ecological spirituality and community resilience and empowerment. Earthcare Schools work within this framework, alongside programs for youth, parishes and families.

“Earthcare was an initiative from the Australian Catholic Bishops in 2000 to encourage people to care for the earth,” Earthcare Schools coordinator Gwen Michener says, “Our schools’ program was introduced two years ago and now has 251 schools (both primary and secondary) involved.”

The Earthcare Schools program has a five level certification process:

  • Level 1 – affirming ecological practice
  • Level 2 – ecological dialogue creating change
  • Level 3 – ecological conversion and sustained change
  • Level 4 – deep ecological conversion creating cultural change
  • Level 5 – living an ecological vocation

“Most of our schools are at Level 1 or 2 with some at Level 3. I know there are more schools out there that are at Level 3, but they just haven’t had time [with COVID etc.] to document that,” Gwen says.

While the background and methodology may differ from Kreative Koalas, the activities and outcomes for students are familiar.

Kitchen gardens stand alongside worm farms and composting. Schools have waste free Mondays and Nude Food days and are involved with Clean up Australia Day and National Recycling Week. Environmental audits allow students to design their own action plans.

“For example we have a school whose students decided they wanted to work on biodiversity so they are making birdfeeder hotels, planting native trees and researching bees. They use iNaturalist to take photos and identify species. They participate in projects with outside organisations such as testing for water quality with Melbourne Water. They’ve been involved in the Kids Teaching Kids Environmental Conference and last term they held a sustainability expo for parents and community members. And because they are in the Dandenong Ranges they participated in the Great Australian Platypus Search using eDNA, which has given them a sense of ownership for their local environment,” Gwen says.

Earthcare Schools is a student-led national movement that harmonises with other sustainability programs across Australia and Gwen sees Kreative Koalas as an ideal fit for delivering Earthcare goals through collaboration. “We recognise work that schools have done in other sustainability programs and Kreative Koalas achieves what we are looking for. Our point of difference is having the Catholic theology embedded into our program and asking why, from a religious point of view, we should care for the environment.”

#creatingabetterworldtogether #YouthVoices #SDGs

Bomaderry Public School students and their Koala spreading joy

Bomaderry Public School share an update on their Kreative Koalas journey …….

Bomaderry Public School proudly presented their Kreative Koala during NAIDOC Week 2022, to Aunty Allison their much loved and well respected long standing Aboriginal Education Officer for her contribution and thanks for all that she does and has done for their students and staff. The Stage 2 SRC class representatives and deputy principal Heidi Bridge also made a presentation during the NAIDOC assembly.

A brief background was given about the history and reason for the koala being at BPS. Stage 2 SRC reps completed the decoupage on the koala and during this time they spoke about protecting the beautiful environment that they live in and climate change and using water wisely. The 2021 NAIDOC poster was recycled and used for the decoupage. The artworks were called Caring for Country by Maggi-Jean Douglas and displayed communities, animals, bush, mountains, rivers, and coastal areas. All things that are surrounding BPS and are important features of our local environment.

 

The koala was well received by our school community, Aboriginal Elders, and visitors. The students were responsive to the reasons and background about how he arrived at BPS. Aunty Alison was very excited about receiving the Koala who now sits proudly on a trolley surrounded by gum leaves. He will reside in her office and continue to spread joy and reminders to protect our environment.

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A special shoutout to St Vincent De Paul for funding Bomaderry Public School’s Kreative Koalas experience

Impact Reports – An opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary people you work with doing extraordinary things

At Action4Agriculture we work with some truly wonderful people. One of those is our journalist Mandy McKeesick. She is such a pleasure to brief and the outcomes always bring great joy.Mandy is the author of our Impact Reports and yesterday we made our 2021 report live. 

We celebrated the students and teachers we work with who are changing the world.

We celebrated the young people in agriculture we work with who are changing the world.

We celebrated our funding partners and our supporting partners who enable them to create a world we are all proud to be part of.

Young people may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future

The research shows they are the demographic who are aware and active. They also have the capacity to bring the rest of us along with them.

Extraordinary things are happening in our schools –

Just a couple of examples – read our Impact Report to celebrate the many others

Watch this extract from an international presentation given by our founder Lynne Strong and teacher Kristen Jones

Banksia Awards finalists Hamilton Public School’s entry for the 2021 Kreative Koalas Competition

 

Visit their website here    

And the magnificent team at Penrith Valley Learning Centre – so looking forward to celebrating their win in person

2022 is the year the team at Action4Agriculture get the opportunity to deliver best practice.

And we welcome funding and supporting partners who, like us, know success requires investing in a marathon not a sprint

Become a Citizen Scientist with PlantingSeeds and Kreative Koalas

Schools involved in the 2022 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future challenge are well advanced on their SDG journey of discovery and are in the process of designing and delivering their Community Action Project (CAP). To empower students’ further Action4Agriculture connects them with influencers in our communities who work with us to create change and offer opportunities to engage with special projects. One such opportunity is with PlantingSeeds who can train everyday Aussies to be citizen scientists.

Let’s find out more.

PlantingSeeds is an environmental protection and sustainable education initiative under the passionate direction of Dr Judy Friedlander. Judy grew up exploring nature in the backyard of her Sydney home, discovering tadpoles and frogs in waterways and spotting koalas in the trees of Pittwater – in the days when this was a common sight. Throughout her journalistic career Judy championed the environment and then translated this to tertiary study with a Masters and PhD before founding PlantingSeeds in 2015.

PlantingSeeds offers a range of programs designed to engage and educate, all backed by science, research and evidence.

“Our key initiative is called the B&B Highway, which stands for bed and breakfasts for bees, birds and biodiversity. So, we’re literally talking about the need to help our wildlife with what they eat and where they sleep. We focus on plants and pollinators because they’re species that people can relate to and that are in the urban environment; and also because we have an alarming decline in our pollinator numbers,” Judy says.

The B&B Highway is both educational and practical and has established nearly 100 hubs for regenerative corridors. This involves planting native plants and establishing constructed habitat such as a nesting box or native stingless beehive. The educational aspects involve teachers and students learning about biodiversity, plants and pollinators and connecting them to biodiversity web databanks such as iNaturalist, which hosts the B&B Highway.

iNaturalist is an example of citizen science where anyone with a smart device can contribute to the identification and, ultimately, protection of fauna and flora. Judy is keen for more people to become citizen scientists and invites schools and students to be part of the B&B BioBlitz (also hosted on iNaturalist)  during National Biodiversity Month in September.

“Citizen Science is very easy and really important because this data can help scientists and experts learn more about patterns and how we can help species. We will also be running workshops for teachers prior to BioBlitz to teach them about citizen science and how to do it,” Judy says.

During BioBlitz, an Australia-wide event, students will have the opportunity to gather information about their local biodiversity and enter a photography competition with smart phones up for grabs.

“We’re excited that our organisation is proactive in bringing citizen science to Australians with this program, which is supported by NSW Department of Education, CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia, Australian Citizen Science Association, Environmental and Zoo Education Centres, Landcare and Action4Agriculture,” Judy says.

Download the Bioblitz flyer here 

Read more about Judy, PlantingSeeds and citizen science here or if your school and students would like to be more involved and become citizen scientists email info@ps.org.au

Plant a tree – save a threatened species, with Kreative Koalas and TheBEATS

Schools involved in the 2022 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future challenge are well advanced on their SDG journey of discovery and are in the process of designing and delivering their Community Action Project (CAP). To empower students’ further Action4Agriculture connects them with influencers in our communities who work with us to create change and offer opportunities to engage with special projects. One such special project is TheBEATS. Let’s find out more.

Tommy Viljoen, in his natural state, is a bushman. He grew up on a farm in Africa and although his career directed him to accounting and then cybersecurity, the natural world was always close to his heart. Later in life he spent three months travelling outback Australia.

“It was absolutely beautiful but there were parts that surprised me. You think ‘this is remote Australia, I should be able to see all the Australian species’ but the main things I saw were goats. I wondered how this could be,” he says.

His surprise and questioning became the motivation to form TheBEATS.org, an evolutionary return to his roots.

Tom Carroll theBEATS co-founder with Tommy Viljoen theBEATS founder holding quolls at Aussie Ark

TheBEATS is a charity that beats the drum for Biodiversity, Endangered And Threatened Species and it needs our Kreative Koala kids.

“We want do education from the bottom-up and work with people who are going to make a difference in the future, and who will be most impacted by climate change. Those people are our kids. Along with getting rid of feral predators we want to inspire our kids to help us return habitat that is so important for threatened and endangered species, and ultimately ourselves. Children influence their parents who, in turn, influence communities,” Tommy says.

In order to inspire young people to be part of regenerating habitat TheBEATS.org is launching a challenge pilot program called Trees for Nature. It calls on students to research an endangered or threatened species in their local area (helpful hint: check out this interactive website developed by the University of Queensland), and then submit an artwork (maybe a Kreative Koala!). For every artwork submitted a tree will be planted in one of two theBEATS projects.

The two projects are situated in the Clarence River area of northern NSW. The first provides additional food resources for koalas, while the second provides safe passage through road developments for threatened coastal emus {insert emu crossing photo}. Six specific tree species (red gum, tallowwood, small fruity grey gum, swamp mahogany, white mahogany and grey ironbark) are being planted.

Jane Beattie, a high school teacher and nature lover has teamed up with Barbara Linley who owns two parcels of land on the mid-North Coast of NSW between McLaren and Broome Head, very close to Yuraygir National Park. With a team of committed folk and the help of Envite they have just planted out 1000 trees for koalas near Tullymorgan.  

“We will allocate one of these trees to every child who submits an artwork and provide them with information about the tree and why it is important. They, in turn, can see that action is being taken due to their efforts,” Tommy says.

TheBEATS is looking for two Kreative Koalas schools to be part of the inaugural Trees for Nature challenge.

“Our scientists and nature lovers tell us one of the most important things we can do at this time for our endangered creatures, is to stop habitat loss and regenerate it wherever we can. We want to get people, and especially kids, to make the connection between habitat and biodiversity protection, and to recognise how important that is,” Tommy says. “

If your school wants to restore nature one tree at a time and return habitat to our threatened and endangered species, now is the time to act.

Want to know more about TheBEATS? Contact:

CONTACTS:

  • Tommy Viljoen at thebeats.org@gmail.com
  • Louise Denver louisedenver4@gmail.com

 

Scots All Saints College are on a mission to work with their local community to save the platypus

Young Australians care deeply about the environment and our native animals and are determined to take an active role in protecting them. The schools we work with see our program, Kreative Koalas -Design a Bright Future Challenge as an opportunity to take a whole of school approach.

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing with you how the 2022 cohort of Kreative Koalas schools are stepping up to the challenge

Kreative Koalas uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) as it’s foundation. The UNSDGs give us all a sustainability framework to measure our impact and a common language we can all use to work together and build a community of continuous improvement and learning.

“As a school, we haven’t previously looked at the Sustainability Goals so we are looking forward to raising the profile of these across our community.”

Today we share with you the motivation behind Scots All Saints College at Bathurst Kreative Koala’s journey

“Platypus numbers in the nearby Macquarie River and Winburndale Rivulet are on the decline. We want to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of local ecosystems, manage forests, halt and reverse land degradation and conserve water/ manage stream flows to ensure that platypus numbers remain viable.”

Scots All Saints College at Bathurst have opened up Kreative Koalas to all their Stage 3 students who are passionate about sustainability and environmental issues and are keen to make a difference in their community.

The school is utilising and developing the skills in this group to complete various aspects of the project. By making a positive contribution to this local and national issue they hope to develop a positive sense of well-being amongst the group.

They have embedded the project into their Year 5 curriculum and are using it as an extra-curricular activity for Stage 3.

They will involve the wider school community to help them with data collection for their platypus survey and support for implementation of their Community Action Plan. 

Learn more about Kreative Koalas and how it works here

#YouthVoices #UNSDGs #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether

 

 

Living Sustainably (and Kreatively) with Cecilia Kemp and Wingecarribee Shire Council

Action4Agriculture’s primary school program Kreative Koalas allows us to connect with a diverse and inspirational range of environmental ambassadors, a perfect example of this is Wingecarribee Shire Council’s coordinator of Sustainability Services, Cecilia Kemp. Cecilia works with our Kreative Koala schools in the NSW Southern Highlands and is producing a suite of programs to showcase sustainability to both students and their communities.

Cecilia’s story begins in Sweden with chapters in Switzerland, Scotland and England before her eventual move to Australia in 2003, and it was the early days that influenced her to strive for a sustainable world.

“Swedish culture is strongly aligned with the natural environment and it is deeply ingrained in us and our folklore. It was normal for us to spend time out in nature but one of the things that really triggered my interest was a German teacher at my international school in Switzerland. While teaching us the German language she would always use quotes and texts from environmental sources. Her daughter worked for Greenpeace and, as an early teen, I thought that was the kind of job for me.

“I’ve always been fascinated by injustice and I think a lot of what I do is deeply rooted in that. I was the annoying kid who spoke up when she saw something wrong and said ‘we shouldn’t be doing that’ and it’s evolved into an adult passion where I like to bring issues to the public attention – things we can do better.”

With a Bachelor of Environmental Science from the University of Edinburgh and a Masters in Engineering Studies (focussed on power generation and climate change) from the University of Sydney, Cecilia’s career has seen her champion sustainability with everyone from Clean Up Australia, to state government and local councils. In 2019 she took on her current role with Wingecarribee Shire Council.

One of her initial tasks was to overhaul the annual School’s Environment Day, which at the time “involved 600 students and was bigger than Ben Hur.” Cecilia reimagined the day as one of immersive activities and adventure learning for a smaller number of students to be held in the bush at Camp Wombaroo. The first School’s Environment Day in the new format will be run in May catering for 200 students, with the second to be held later in the year allowing 200 more local students to participate.

Another initiative under Cecilia’s direction is Sustainable Us, designed as a community engagement project to address impact on the environment and actions that can be taken to mitigate climate change.

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The project includes a series of 12 videos and will feature Hilltop Public School, who broke new ground in 2021 by using Kreative Koalas as a catalyst to report on education for sustainability.

Hilltop is a tiny community but every community in the world will be affected by climate change and these kids had already produced a video to highlight it in the context of their own space, and they’re sharing these stories with their parents and grandparents and community members. What they are doing is fantastic and we will feature them in the Sustainable Us episode about community to illustrate how we can come together and make a big difference,” Cecilia says.

Read our case study on Hilltop Public School here 

Watch the first video in the Sustainable US series here

 

Alongside the School’s Environment Day and Sustainable Us, Southern Highland’s schools, including Kreative Koalas participant Robertson Public School, benefit in other ways from Cecilia’s proactive approach.

“We send newsletters to all the schools in the Shire at the start of every term, flagging the resources that we have available to help teach a sustainable lifestyle. We offer workshops, and presentations on the local water cycle and the local impacts of climate change, run recycled art competitions and we were the first regional council to offer the Solar My School program to schools.”

“There is no silver bullet to address our environmental impact but its important people know that switching off the lights when you leave a room is just as powerful as buying a Tesla. Nobody should feel excluded based on their financial or physical ability. It’s just a case of being a bit more resourceful with what we have.”

When it comes to being resourceful Cecilia and her team are well ahead of the curve, and the benefits to our Kreative Koalas schools will be endless. We look forward to continuing and building this association for years to come and congratulate Wingecarribee Shire Council on its initiatives that educate and inspire us all to lead a better life for our planet.

#YouthVoices #CreatingABetterWorldTogether

 

 

Australian Primary School Students are taking action to help us all achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are being realised by primary students in 2022 as they participate in Kreative Koalas. Twenty eight schools from across rural and urban NSW will investigate global sustainability issues and explore their own solutions within their communities in this innovative program delivered by Action4Agriculture.

The SDG are a suite of 17 actionable targets described by the United Nations as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Kreative Koalas provides the opportunity for students to be part of a team that takes a deep dive into ideas and solutions and empowers them to act as future decision makers for the planet.

Using art to stimulate design, creativity, teamwork and project development the program gifts each school with a life-sized fibreglass koala on which to express their sustainability theme. The students are connected with a diverse range of local sustainability experts from Indigenous elders to government agencies and together create a community action project.

In 2020 St Brigid’s Primary School at Raymond Terrace participated in Kreative Koalas by looking at SDG 15: Life on Land. Students researched 12 endangered species and voted the Hunter River Turtle as their focus, enlisting the help of Hunter Local Land Services. Also touching on SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), 12 (Responsible consumption and production) and 13 (Climate action) the students planted a vegetable garden and used the produce to create, and then sell, meals in the school canteen. In doing so they raised $300, which they donated to the Australian Reptile Park to assist with the construction of new facilities for the Hunter River Turtle.

“One of the legacies of Kreative Koalas has been we now celebrate World Turtle Day each year and continue to raise money,” St Brigid’s teacher Kristen Jones says. “In 2021 we again donated to the Australian Reptile Park and in 2022 we are hoping to support charity Sea Shelter in their work with sea turtles. Another legacy has been the implementation of a new bin system at the school for waste reduction and participation in the REDcyle program.”

St Brigid’s will be a part of Kreative Koalas again in 2022 and Kristen has learnt to let the students lead the learning.

“Our kids are already passionate about sustainability and the environment and they will run the project,” she says. “When we started Kreative Koalas in 2020 I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do but when I actually listened to the kids I realised they already had a very clear idea of what would work and what they wanted.”

Watch the St Brigid’s students share their 2020 journey here

 

Kreative Koalas becomes beloved by teachers as well as students. Kitchen Garden teacher Cassandra Lindsay has delivered Kreative Koalas in two previous schools and is looking forward to delivering the program in a new format at Penrith Public School.

Students at Penrith Public School have set up a Kreative Koalas corner in their classroom

“Whilst I have identified goals and ideas that are important to me I know real success comes from giving the students ownership of the project. We will be inviting the students to be the driving force and decide our direction,” Cass says.

 “The principal of Penrith Public School is highly supportive of the Kitchen Garden program and environmental awareness programs and in Term 2 and Term 3 of 2022 Kreative Koalas has been allocated space in our school timetable to run in conjunction with the Kitchen Garden program. This means the students I’ve selected, based on their interests, will be able to withdraw from class and come into my classroom to work solely on Kreative Koalas. That shows how much support the school has for the project.”

 “I’ve selected Year Four students because I want these students to have the opportunity to develop leadership skills to support other students as they go into Year 5 and 6. My experience participating in Kreative Koalas in the past is that it immerses students in learning that has genuine impact, builds their networks, and helps them develop new skills. By starting early, we can help develop them into capacity builders for other students, a very important skill as they transition into high school.

 “I’m looking at long term engagement. I’ve got a mix of students in the group. Some of them are very artistic. Some are good at thinking outside the box. I look forward to finding out what they want to focus on.

 “The Kreative Koalas model is designed to involve the whole school in the project with students as young as kindergarten learning about its purpose, which is aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Action4Agriculture has been working with young people for almost 20 years with Kreative Koalas and its partner programs, The Archibull Prize and Young Farming Champions. Throughout this time director Lynne Strong and her team have listened to the environmental and social concerns of our next generation and built resources to support them.

“Kreative Koalas allows our young people to create and implement their own solutions relevant to their school and their communities. They learn how to design and deliver projects that have genuine impact in making the world a better place. We welcome to the 2022 Kreative Koalas program returning schools and teachers, new schools and a new cohort of students and look forward to watching their sustainability journeys,” Lynne says.

#YouthVoices #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether

 

 

Celebrating Our Partnerships – FEAST reaches 500

Today we celebrate OzHarvest FEAST reaching 500 primary schools across Australia and influencing inspiring nearly 35,000 future change-makers to waste less and care for our planet.

Celebrating strategic partnerships that:

  • encourage all Australians to value food, and the people and the places that provide it, and

  • take climate action by not wasting this most basic of human needs.

Action4Agriculture has a long-standing partnership with OzHarvest who deliver the successful FEAST program into primary schools alongside our Kreative Koalas. FEAST (Food Education and Sustainability Training) is a Year 5 and 6 curriculum-aligned education program, encouraging kids to eat healthy, waste less and become change-makers in their local community.

 

“Action4Agriculture recognises there are organisations doing great things in the food and nutrition space and through our collaboration we can help each other multiply our impact. We appreciate our key partnership with OzHarvest and congratulate them on reaching 500 schools with FEAST,” Action4Agriculture director Lynne Strong says.

Together we are supporting Australian schools to take action on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #SDG 2 Zero Waste, #SDG 12  Responsible Production and Consumption, #SDG 13 Climate Action

The benefits of this successful collaboration are also recognised by Madison Lucas, OzHarvest FEAST National Program Manager.

“OzHarvest’s FEAST Education program values its partnership with Action4Agriculture, as they both share a common vision to bring food and environmental education into schools by providing ongoing support for teachers and delivering on a number of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. It’s great to see like-minded programs like FEAST and Kreative Koalas come together to inspire children to value food and care for our planet. Both programs understand the importance of encouraging community engagement and provide opportunities for our students to have a voice and take action to prevent food waste,” she says.

The partnership between FEAST and Kreative Koalas is exemplified by St Brigid’s Public School at Raymond Terrace who combined the programs to protect the threatened Hunter River Turtle in 2020.

As part of Kreative Koalas the students at St Brigid’s chose to focus their attention on threatened species, selecting the Hunter River Turtle as their school mascot. By participating in FEAST they planted a vegetable garden and used the cooking kit provided by OzHarvest 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,” teacher Kristen Jones says.

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.

Read more about this exciting project here.

As Kreative Koalas rolls out for another year, Action4Agriculture welcomes the opportunity for our schools to once again partner with the OzHarvest FEAST program. Together we can promote the Sustainable Development Goals, inspire communities and create tomorrow’s change-makers today.

Sign your school up to participate in FEAST here 

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Giving Young People the tools to follow their GPS and learn the Power of We

Young Australians are entering another year of learning what it takes to stay resilient. At Action4Agriculture we are giving teachers the tools through our action learning programs The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas to support young people come together to find their GPS*

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

 

 

See how St Paul’s Primary School in the Hunter followed their GPS

You can find out how it works here

Applications are now open for 2022 You can sign your school up here 

Mega thx to Chris Fenning for introducing us to the GPS model we love it