From north to south, students turn waste to wonder
Melissa Sellen from the Australian Association of Environment Education (AAEE) brings more news from NSW schools on their war against waste.
Bungwahl Public School Year 2 student checks out the school’s ‘Utopia’ worm garden.
The last edition of EPA Connect introduced Take Me Outside NSW, a newly launched schools environment program funded by the NSW Environmental Trust.
Take Me Outside NSW offers a free 'one-stop environmental-shop' for teachers, educators, community volunteers, and state government and council staff to connect and develop programs and activities to help young people get healthy and active in our environment.
Milperra Public School in Sydney’s south-west was one of the first in NSW to register a Take Me Outside NSW project. Relieving Assistant Principal, Alia Gurtner will be working with her students to establish a series of worm farms after her 2018 composting project proved highly successful, particularly in engaging and empowering students with additional needs to build their sense of responsibility.
“We began composting food scraps last year and students were responsible for collecting the food waste bins from each classroom and helping maintain the compost. We had such great results that we are now expanding to include worm farms and perhaps even collect scraps from neighbouring cafes,” Ms Gurtner said.
“Take Me Outside NSW will be a great source of support as we grow the project and see not only waste reduction results, but also a real benefit to the engagement and support of all of our students.”
Bungwahl Public School’s initiatives include indigenous themed-painted water tank and veggie garden backings
Just a few hours north, at Bungwahl Public School on the NSW North Coast, there are more fantastic things happening to close the loop on waste. Nikki Dixon started as a volunteer in the school canteen and has since gone on to help set up sprawling kitchen and bush food gardens, a green house, chickens, a worm farm, an aquaponics system, and embed a comprehensive environmental education teaching program. She says ensuring nothing goes to waste is central to the school’s ethos.
“We really try to avoid waste, especially food waste, wherever we can. After our recent Mother’s Day lunch, we had leftovers of some home-grown roast vegetables – so we turned them into delicious sausage rolls for sale through the canteen. Nothing goes to waste!” Ms Dixon said.
Nikki was awarded the 2018 AAEE NSW Environmental Educator of the Year Award in recognition for her outstanding contribution to environmental education in NSW.
The NSW EPA is a corporate member of AAEE NSW.