Environmental students dip their toes into marine studies

A group of 40 students and teachers from eight Southern Yorke Peninsula schools took part in a reef walk and marine activities at Port Vincent as part of the 2015 Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Young Environmental Leaders (YEL) program recently.

The participants represented Stansbury, Port Vincent, Curramulka, Edithburgh and Warooka Primary Schools, as well as Minlaton District School, St Columba’s Memorial School and Yorketown Area School.

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke (NRNY) community ranger Fabienne Dee says the event was a great opportunity for the students to experience hands-on marine learning.

“The marine discovery day was designed to capture students’ imaginations and develop their understanding of the marine environment,” she says.

“It was great to see the students so engaged and fascinated by the exploration of the reef as well as the activities run back at the marine centre.

“Our marine ecosystems are vital both socially and economically and it’s important for young people to develop an understanding and appreciation of our marine habitats and the species that call them home.”

The marine day was the second in a series of YEL workshops planned for the year, with the first held in February with students learning about unique marine species of the region and planning sustainability projects for their local sites.

At the recent workshop in Port Vincent, students were given a guided reef walk looking at the species of the intertidal zone, followed by a workshop with Bill Travis at the Port Vincent Aquatics Centre where they put some of the species under the microscope.

Students also put some of their learning into action, designing their own Sanctuary Zones.

South Australia’s Marine Parks and Sanctuary Zones protect some of Australia’s most important marine habitats, many with plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

Schools involved in the YEL program will work on environmental projects throughout the year, with support from NRNY including access to education resources, visits from NRNY staff and help in applying for funding for environmental programs.

“All the students involved in the Young Environmental Leaders program are currently involved in rolling out a sustainbility project within their own school,” Ms Dee says.