The 2017 GORCC Coast Guardians Forum was a day of celebration and inspiration for the 140 year 9 students, teachers and staff from the four local schools who attended at the Surf Coast Shire Grant Pavilion in Torquay. The weather was not in our favour, but the spirits were high for a fun-filled day with delicious food, wonderful donated goods as prizes, and local coastal expertise.
Students were treated to a moving Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony provided by the local Wathaurung representatives, Corrina O’Toole and Norm Stanley. Norm’s didgeridoo playing provided a magnificent addition to the smoking ceremony which welcomes all people to the Wadawurrung area for a day of clean and clear hearts and thinking. The students listened and absorbed the atmosphere respectfully and joyfully.
Corrina also conducted workshops for the students to learn of Wadawurrung culture and practices to care for the coast, including painting with clay and weaving plants for hair decorations, which the students really enjoyed.
Further workshops were conducted for the students by local award-winning film maker Jarrod Boord who facilitated making a stop motion mini movie about plastic and marine debris on our coast. What an opportunity to work with a professional movie maker and create something to show people in 25 minutes!
Local artist Lisa Hunter inspired the students to create their own GORCC Enviro Bag decorations using individualised messages and decorative stencils of local animals and plants. Lisa created some wonderful stencils of moonah trees, bandicoots, hooded plover and dolphins (to name a few) for students to paint and have an individualised bag of their own and reduce plastic bag waste on the coast.
Nadine Berry from Anglesea’s EcoLogic brought an amazing array of local preserved wildlife specimens including koalas, possums, owls and other creatures for the students to look and feel closely at their features for survival. Nadine also showed the students how to discover the tracks, traces and evidence that the animals are here on the coast.
Our own GORCC Education staff member, Pete Crowcroft, looked at Things up Close, utilising the new GORCC Environmental Education trailer’s microscopes. The students were amazed to see the boulders, crystals and pieces of shell found in the rainbow of a few grains of beach sand, and the tiny pieces of micro plastic contained in the face wash many people use each day.
We looked at different objects magnified at up to 250x, which showed details of everyday objects that we usually would not see. Some students collected a mushroom to have a look at the gills magnified, and were excited to find many small grubs that were too small to see with the naked eye crawling inside.
Students also contributed to the day with prepared verbal and visual presentations about their experience as Coast Guardians. They presented informative talks and posters addressing environmental issues and informing the participants of the amazing biodiversity on the coast.
Our Guest Presenter, Jess Brown from Melbourne Zoo, provided an informative, confronting and inspiring presentation about the Zoos Victoria Marine Response Unit rescuing marine life (particularly seals) who have become entangled in marine debris. Jess spoke of the fact that Zoos Victoria is a conservation based organisation now that deals with real life issues to prevent animals’ extinction on our planet. Students also learned of practical ways to combat the problem of marine debris on their coast by participating in the beach clean-ups and sending data to the Australian Marine Debris Data Base, and using bubbles rather than balloons at events such as parties and festivals.
“The 2017 GORCC Coast Guardians Forum was a wonderful day where we expect the local Coast Guardian students were inspired further to care for the natural beauty and assets on the Surf Coast, and to continue their stewardship in the future.” Hilary Bouma, Education Coordinator for the Coast Guardians.