Water View for Student Conservationists

Northern Bay College students experience environmental education from a different perspective on stand-up paddle boards.
Northern Bay College students experience environmental education from a different perspective on stand-up paddle boards.

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.

Students explore the river system on their paddle boards on a sunny autumn day.
Students explore the river system on their paddle boards on a sunny autumn day.

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.

Stand up paddle boarding provided a fun new classroom for the Northern Bay College students.
Stand up paddle boarding provided a fun new classroom for the Northern Bay College students.

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.

Students raft together to learn more about the river ecosystem they are exploring.
Students raft together to learn more about the river ecosystem they are exploring.

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.

Have you ever tried stand-up paddle boarding? Let us know where is your favourite place to go paddle boarding along the Surf Coast.

Free coastal fun for all

Summer by the Sea is almost here and in 2015 the program features stand up paddle-boarding – a new addition to a growing line-up of free activities.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries and Parks Victoria program which runs from 2-26 January 2015, is an opportunity for everyone to discover Victoria’s marine and coastal environment.

In 2015 more than 300 free, guided activities will be on offer across the state.  In the Surf Coast region activities are being funded and run by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), a program partner.

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GORCC Education Activity Leader Pete Crowcroft with little participant Hugh, holding up a piece of whale skeleton.

 

Stand up paddle boarding will feature in Torquay and Lorne and GORCC Education Activity Leader Pete Crowcroft who is organising and leading activities on the Surf Coast, said the activity is a fun way to explore and learn about estuaries and rivers.

“Stand up paddle-boarding is a popular but expensive recreational activity so we’re pleased to be able to offer it for free to participants,” he said.

In addition to activities for the more adventurous such as snorkelling, canoeing and stand up paddle-boarding, there are a huge variety of options available with something for every age and level of ability.

Participants can engage in everything from fossil safaris and walking tours through to coastal craft and playing detective both on the beach and in the bush.

“Those looking for something a little more relaxed can engage in activities like guided coastal walks along the stunning Surf Coast Walk, kite making sessions, rockpool rambles or calico craft,” said Mr. Crowcroft.

GORCC sponsored activities will be offered in Torquay, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet and Lorne and at the Torquay NightJar Markets.

“It’s wonderful to be able to get people of all ages to engage with our incredible coastline and experiencing and learning about the environment.

“It is particularly great for kids, as it’s very important that they learn to connect with and appreciate the natural environment from a young age,” Mr. Crowcroft said.

GORCC Community Liaison Manager, Jane Lovejoy said every previous January for four years GORCC had run a free environmental education program for campers.

“We are excited to partner with DEPI and Parks Victoria in Summer by the Sea and expand our activities to make them available to everyone on the coast.

“We look forward to seeing excited and happy participants of all ages enjoying what we have on offer,” she said.

Bookings are essential for most activities and the majority of activities are free.  For more information, visit www.depi.vic.gov.au or www.parks.vic.gov.au.