'Our Patch' students learn about biodiversity and catchments

 ‘Our Patch’ Year 3 Program

The year three children focus on wetlands and fauna with fun and engaging incursions and excursions with specialists. Students initially learnt about the ecosystems that exist in waterways and the role that macro invertebrates play in the food chain. All classes visit their local wetland and assess foreshore vegetation, sampled macro invertebrates and make some hypotheses about water quality.

Students have been delighted to spot macro invertebrates that are sensitive to pollution like Caddis Fly larvae and a good diversity of water bugs. Children have enjoyed the opportunity, through rain, hail and even sunshine to explore and investigate the variety of creatures that live in our catchments. Many catching gilgies and marron for the first time.

Year three classes also have a fun excursion to the Bioblitz event, held at Barrett Street Weir this year with an aquatic theme. Murdoch University’s Steve Beatty taught the kids about freshwater fish, the Department of Primary Industries ran sessions on marron and food webs in the river. We had local wildlife rehabilitators presenting sessions on fauna, including an owl specialist. Discover Deadly gave  kids the chance to cuddle a python and learn about snake safety and some knowledgeable and inspiring women from the Undalup Association ran sessions on indigenous culture and waterways.

‘Our Patch’ Year 6 Program

Year six students participate in the ‘Our Patch’ program, creating a project from their studies at a catchment level. The focus in on learning about natural areas and mixed land uses within their catchment and the values, challenges and solutions in the landscape. Each class tours their local catchment, visiting sites from naturally vegetated through to various forms of agriculture. They work scientifically, collecting date through conducting foreshore assessments, water quality and macroinvertebrates and recording their observations, to assess the health of the water way and local environment. Visiting landholders, they learn firsthand about some of the inspiring practices being put in place to care for the land and waterways. They also learn about the indigenous cultural values of their catchment. All the classes come together in term three to communicate their findings and present their projects.

Project Officer: Michelle Keppel

The ‘Our Patch’ program is funded by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River’s Environmental Management Fund, Cowaramup Lion’s Club, Margaret River Rotary Club and participating schools.

‘Adopt a Spot’ Year 4 Program

The year four program gives local kids the opportunity to help rehabilitate a local site, adopted by their school. The aim of the program is to develop long term connections between schools and sites in bushland, along waterways and in coastal areas. Schools are also connected to volunteer friends of reserves groups, with combined efforts caring for sites in the long term and contributing to the restoration of these sites through hand weeding, planting and monitoring of the success of restoration.

Each year, two excursions to each site are conducted with each school, firstly in early winter to undertake rehabilitation work such as planting and brushing and secondly in late spring to assess the success of their work and undertake follow up weeding and clean up activities. Before and after surveys are undertaken with the students to assess their knowledge of the site, its issues and environmental management requirements.

The Margaret River Primary School’s ‘Adopt a Spot’ revegetation project at Ellen Place foreshore reserve has been a fantastic collaboration of school children, community volunteers and local landholders contributing to the protection of the Margaret River foreshore. The site, infested with arum lilies for many years, was ready to be restored with native plants following extensive arum lily control by Nature Conservation over the past few years.

Year 4 students from the Margaret River Primary School have learnt about the reserve, the values of the area and native plants that could support life and create habitat. Their work at the site has been supported by local landowners including Ann Ward. Ann was so inspired by the student’s restoration efforts, she and other volunteers planted a further 1000 seedlings on her property adjacent to the site. An area that was once overrun with arum lily is now a sea of native seedlings. Ann noted that ‘it was an extraordinary team effort and an amazing transformation’. Ann has since carefully tended her plants and helped to care for the plants the students put in. The plants with rain, careful weeding and sunshine are doing well and already helping to create vital habitat.

Project Officer: Tracey Muir

‘Adopt a Spot’ is funded by the State NRM Program.