The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee has had a busy start to the year with 560 students participating in its environmental education program along the coast. Students from kindergarten to senior secondary school have contributed over 90 hours of conservation work, making a huge impact along our precious coast.
Great Ocean Road Coast Education Program Coordinator Peter Crowcroft, also known as Possum Pete, said that it was exciting to see so many students getting involved and learning about the coastal environment.
Just one of many great achievements, students from Clonard College Geelong and Girton Grammar in Bendigo completely removed a considerable infestation of the Flax-leaved Broom (Genista linifolia) at Yellow Bluff in Torquay.
Possum Pete said: “Flax-leaved Broom is a noxious weed native to the Mediterranean and north Africa and has the ability to crowd out smaller shrubs and ground-flora species, and eventually impact the food sources of native fauna.”
Various beach clean-ups cleared large volumes of plastic and rubbish off the beaches in Torquay and Anglesea, with a special thanks to the Northern Bay (Goldsworthy) students for a big clean up at Point Roadknight.
“The removal of litter makes a big difference to marine animals that can mistake plastic for food, making them very sick,” said Possum Pete.
Kinder sessions were a highlight this term, with Torquay, Jan Juc, Lorne and Anglesea kindergartens running their beach and bush kinder programs. Guided by Great Ocean Road Coast’s environmental educators, bush and beach kinder programs are designed to immerse children in a natural setting, allowing kids to play, explore, and learn more about the natural environment. This term the kids loved finger painting with ochre and squishing the bright violet Seaberry Saltbush (Rhagodia candolleana) and using it to dye their hands and hats.
Possum Pete said: “The year 9 students from Operation Newstart were excellent this term, with some very keen students enthusiastic about learning about the marine environment, with some saying they’d like to become marine biologists!”
On their first session they found some interesting items such as a Swell Shark egg casing and a dead juvenile Australasian Gannet. On their next session the group were excited to find an Octopus, which had been exposed by a very low tide.
Great Ocean Road Coast has been running education activities since 2011 that are based on natural resource management practices and hands-on conservation activities. The increasingly popular program engages with students from all over Victoria with over 2000 participants over the past year. As a not-for-profit organisation, we offer free activities to participants on coastal Crown land between Torquay and Lorne.
The program – designed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to work with, understand, respect, protect and enhance our coastal surroundings – aims to inspire students to be the environmental stewards of the future and become advocates for the coastal environment.
“We want students to have a sense of accomplishment that they have done something for the environmental health of this area and that they have ‘paid back’ to the coast for the recreational time they have spent there,” said Hilary Bouma, coordinator of Great Ocean Road Coast’s Coast Guardians program.
To find out more about Great Ocean Road Coast’s education program, head to: www.gorcc.com.au/education