Students celebrate coastal conservation


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Hilary Bouma (GORCC Education Activity Leader) and Byron Powell, Wathaurung elder.

90 students joined some special guests at a coastal forum in Torquay this week to celebrate of a year of coastal conservation achievements.

Year nine students from four regional schools came together at the environmental education forum which is held each year as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coast Guardians Program.

GORCC Community Liaison Manager Jane Rowlands said the forum celebrated the significant contribution the students have made over the past year to the local coastal environment.

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Phil Armato (Fisheries Victoria) shows a wobbegong shark jaw to Lorne P-12 College student, James Wainwright.

“The day included interactive activities and challenges, prominent guest speakers, student presentations and prizes and giveaways.

This year’s guest speakers and special guests included:

•    Wathaurung aboriginal elder Bryon Powell
•    Phil Armato: manager of Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre for Fisheries Victoria. Previously worked at the RSPCA and Zoos Victoria.
•    Dr Kate Charlton-Robb: founding director and principal researcher at the Australian Marine Mammal Conservation Foundation. Researcher, lecturer, campaigner, and discoverer of the unique species of Port Phillip Bay Dolphins called Burrunan Dolphins.

The day has been designed to increase and extend understanding on topics students have covered over the last twelve months including aboriginal culture, coastal animals and plants and threats to and management of, the natural coastal environment.

“We hope that these Coast Guardians will now graduate to become ongoing ambassadors for our beautiful and fragile coast,” said Ms.Rowlands.

Students received thank you gift packs donated by Quiksilver and, spot prizes donated by other local businesses.

“GORCC thanks Quiksilver and other local businesses for supporting this very special program and for recognising the achievements of these students who are making a very real difference to the environment.

The GORCC Coast Guardians Program sees four schools take ownership of the rehabilitation and conservation of four sites.   Schools involved are:
•    Lorne Aireys P-12 College
•    Geelong Lutheran College
•    Northern Bay College
•    Surf Coast Secondary College

“This is a long term program where students, mainly year 9s, look after a specific site between Torquay and Lorne over 5 years.

“The Coast Guardians Program aims to relate work undertaken on the ground to the school curriculum, linking to subjects such as science, outdoor education and community volunteering,” said Ms. Rowlands.

For more information on the Coast Guardians Program visit http://www.gorcc.com.au.

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