Goolwa to Wellington LAP were excited to launch their new Our Place Program this week. The program links school students with local special places and the volunteer community groups that care for them. The project aims to give students a special connection with a local natural place, as well as the knowledge and skills to help keep these spaces special into the future and in doing so build the next generation of environmentalists.
Natural Resources, SAMDB have provided funding for the project that will initially involve two local schools, and two local community groups. Goolwa Primary School are partnering with Goolwa Coastcare to become the young custodians of Tokuremoar Reserve, while Eastern Fleurieu School, Strathalbyn R-6 campus, is partnering with the Angas River Catchment Group to foster connections with Archery Park at Strathalbyn. Both of these volunteer groups have a long history of making a big impact in these areas, and through their work there have gained a lot of specialised knowledge about the area, what makes it special, and what can be done to help it. And both of these sites need help. They are both important fragments of what would have been around before European settlement, and as such offer a refuge for both fauna and flora in the area.
The program aims to reconnect children with nature under Dr. Jane Goodall’s “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.” The idea that to get young people helping look after our environment both in the future and now, we first need to give them a connection to the natural world.
According to Nature Play SA, our children spend less than two hours a day outside, one in four have never climbed a tree, one in three have never planted a garden and the area in which they can explore, has shrunk by 90%.
Studies have shown that significant childhood participation in nature leads to positive environmental behaviours in adulthood. Meaningful, enjoyable experiences in nature, and attachment to natural places lead to children and adults wanting to care for nature. Alternatively, those that aren’t exposed to nature as a child are less likely to care for the environment as an adult. Basically, if you don’t know about it, you won’t care for it.
On Thursday last week, two classes from Goolwa Primary School visited Tokuremoar reserve, where Goolwa Coastcare has been working for many years to restore the natural environment.
Ben Simon, Goolwa Coastcare Coordinator introduced the students to the reserve, showingthem some of the reserve’s special features and also some of the threats. The students enjoyed a gazania pulling competition, learnt about how weeds are spread (especially wind dispersal of weed seeds from neighbouring gardens) and went on a local butterfly spotting hunt. The group then walked down to where the reserve links to the dune system and collected marine debris along the way to Goolwa Beach carpark.
Students paused for a moment on the lookout at Goolwa Beach, watching and listening. They were able to see the natural connections in the landscape from the high vantage point. The day will be followed up with activities in the classroom and a field visit each term, and will hopefully lead to a deeper understanding of our environment for our local kids.