It’s not your everyday classroom, but the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday islands have offered 35 local Mackay students a truly memorable marine lesson.
Students from Sarina State High School and Pioneer State High School recently took part in an outdoor education adventure as part of the Marine Classroom Program, spending four days on Brampton Island and out and about on the reef.
The Marine Classroom Program, a joint initiative of Reef Catchments and Wild Mob, allows students in the region with a passion for the marine environment to learn about marine science and conservation by getting their hands dirty conducting research and undertaking works with qualified scientists.
Reef Catchments coastal officer, Jess Berryman, said the program offered an unmatched opportunity for young people to connect with their islands, coast and marine environment.
“There is a focus on science and conservation – the trip highlights real issues that are both relevant to the region and in line with high school curriculum. These two recent trips with Sarina and Pioneer High ran early August, and we are excited to have another two trips scheduled to take place later this year.”
Ms Berryman said the students had a ball learning out on the water and islands, as well as contributing to island conservation efforts through weed and marine debris removal.
“The program encourages them to act as real scientists, conducting valuable research with the ‘Eye on the Reef’ and ‘Coral Watch’ programs. Students also undertook physical weed identification and removal in 2ha of endangered beach scrub, and removed and analysed over 50kg of marine debris on critical turtle nesting beaches!” she said.
“The trip is so rewarding for the students involved, both academically and personally. From transects and turtles, to snorkelling to spotlighting, students learn direct from both environmental professionals and nature – one of the best teachers of all.”
Pioneer State High student Tyra Hutchinson said the trip had included her first time snorkelling.
“It was the most incredible experience, I have never seen the reef from such an up-close perspective. You have no idea how much life there is under the water until you see it for yourself! This experience has really highlighted the importance of marine conservation efforts for me,” she said.
Students from Sarina State High remarked that the removal of invasive weed species from the Island with the help of Wild mob staff Phil Hrstich and Amanda Scrivenor helped them see the ‘whole picture’ when it came to both island and coastal conservation efforts.
Sarina State High student Alex Darmody said he enjoyed learning about how removal of invasive weeds could help protect native fauna and flora, as well as the Coast and islands themselves.
“This trip has taught me lessons which I will carry with me for life.”
For more information contact Jess Berryman (Reef Catchments) on P: (07) 4968 4226 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org