Northern Bay College students experienced environmental education from a stand-up paddle board recently as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coast Guardians program.
The activity is a new component of the ongoing program, which aims to increase environmental awareness and action and encourage environmental stewardship.
The Year 9 students have been working hard to restore and rehabilitate conservation sites near Point Impossible, undertaking hands-on activities such as weeding, planting and erosion prevention.
GORCC Education Activity Leader Pete Crowcroft said stand-up paddle boarding helped to offer an interesting and intimate perspective on how environmental threats such as pollution and erosion affect river ecosystems.
“Hands-on, interactive activities have more impact on teenagers than a lesson in the classroom.
“Students begin to experience, appreciate and understand the environment instead of taking it for granted,” he said.
Mr Crowcroft said it was important to have students look at examples of environmental habitats in pristine condition.
“This really helps to demonstrate why the work they are doing at Point Impossible is so important,” he said.
The Coast Guardians program integrates hands-on activities along with theory based learning to cover a range of conservation topics and encourage environmental participation.
Activities range from studying organisms that inhabit rocky shores to revegetating Point Impossible in a supportive and fun learning environment.
Four schools are currently engaged in the program, which sees each school make a long term commitment to a coastal area or site.
Year 9 students from each school then work to rehabilitate and protect that site, forming a feeling of pride and ownership.
GORCC Community Liaison Manager Jane Lovejoy said the program was a great way to get students involved in protecting their local coast.
“The environmental knowledge that students gain from this program will hopefully stay with them through adulthood and help promote positive conservation messages amongst their peers.
“The students’ conservation work assists the protection and enhancement of the natural environment and also supports the work of the GORCC conservation team and local environmental groups,” Ms Lovejoy said.
The program is fully funded by GORCC and is provided free of charge to schools involved.
For more information, or to get involved in GORCC’s free environmental education program, visit our website.
This article was published in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column.