Sustainability Champions in Gippsland
ResourceSmart Schools supported around 85 schools across Gippsland in 2018-19.
Across Victoria, RSS worked with 27% of schools in 2018-19, with RSS Gippsland working with 31% of schools in Gippsland.
Projects included development of two frog bogs, revegetation and garden projects, support for additional resources, water efficiency infrastructure and school incursions.
It was inspiring to support Airly Primary School and Yinnar Primary School to become certified as 5 Star Schools. Gippsland now has a total of three 5 Star Schools, with many more looking to achieve this status in 2019-20.
To complement the work done in schools, RSS Gippsland also delivered professional development training to teachers in six locations across Gippsland. Sixty-five teachers completed the training and provided positive feedback of their experiences.
Small Steps, Huge Results
The ResourceSmart Schools program has grown significantly in Gippsland.
During its first 10 years (2008-17), the savings generated across Gippsland schools amounted to more than $1.7 million.
Savings of over:
- 9,100 tonnes of greenhouse gasses
- 9,300 m3 of waste
- 17,700 KL of water
With 24,700 trees planted to enhance biodiversity.
Great schools doing great things
Waste Module Achieved
Congratulations to Sale Primary School for all of the great effort put in to obtaining their Waste Module Certificate.
Changes implemented by the school community have resulted in a saving of 138m3 of waste and savings of $4,180 since starting the ResourceSmart journey.
The school conducted an audit and came up with the following priorities:
- Improved system for reuse of paper in classrooms, work areas
- Improved signage
- Eating area to avoid litter being left in school grounds
- Trashless Tuesday competition
- Information re using containers rather than plastic, etc communicated at assemblies and through Newslines
- One person responsible for weekly emptying of recycled paper into paper skip
- Update sustainability policy
- Develop monitoring and evaluation strategies
- Student leadership group monitor own classrooms
- Visual monitoring of yard waste
- Annual rubbish audit.
The school has also been tracking their waste generation over this period and achieved a significant reduction over the period they have been involved in ResourceSmart Schools.
They are now below the baseline which is the target which is considered best practice.
Welcome To The Tropic of Gippsland
Hot sunny days, humidity, cool slices of watermelon and sweet, ripe bananas – just some of the things that come to mind when thinking about the tropics. Well, what if we were to tell you that you could have all that right here in Gippsland!
The students and staff of Narracan Primary School have created a little slice of Gippsland paradise by using their greenhouse and other sheltered microclimates around their school to grow some delicious tropical fruit.
With the help of volunteers from their local Men’s Shed, the School has set up a large wicking bed in their greenhouse and has successfully grown several watermelon and cantaloupe varieties. One of the benefits of the wicking bed, being an enclosed garden bed, which draws water from a reservoir located at its base, is that the produce was able to continue growing with adequate water while the school population departed for the summer holidays.
Wicking garden beds are a great option for schools, being easy to construct, using much less water and requiring less maintenance than conventional garden beds to produce an abundance of vegies and other plants.
They can be left unattended for a period of time, such as school holidays, without the danger of running out of water. If you are interested in setting up, or converting existing garden beds into wicking beds at your school, please talk to your ResourceSmart Schools facilitator or visit http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/building-a-wicking-bed/9435452
But Narracan Primary School haven’t stopped there. The school has planted a row of bananas along the north wall of their administration/classroom building, some of which are currently laden with many hands of unripe bananas. “I’m always in need of a new challenge”, says Principal Kevin Bradford, “I like to plant things that don’t naturally grow here and see what happens.” According to Kevin, a number of the bananas from last year’s harvest were ripe enough to eat!
Let’s hope the things bode well for the 2018 crop. Congratulations to Narracan Primary School on giving such a unique project a go. We are wondering what their next endeavour will be? “Perhaps a mango tree”, muses Kevin. Now that would be a challenge!
Bundy Breakky Club
In term 3 2018, Bundalaguah Primary School’s new School Breakfast Club began, providing breakfast for students before school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The school is participating in the School Breakfast Clubs Program. The Victorian Government has partnered with Foodbank Victoria to help ensure that all kids have a healthy and nutritious start to the day. Foodbank Victoria will now be delivering regular free breakfast food to support our school breakfast club.
The school breakfast club aims to ensure that not only do all children have a healthy start to the day, but will also have improved concentration.
The food offered includes vita brits, milk, baked beans, porridge and canned fruit. The menu will be supplemented with other food such as fresh fruit, smoothies and pancakes on some mornings.
Eggs from the chooks have been used to make pancakes.
Calls were made in the school newsletter for families to donate excess of seasonal fruit for the program.
The breakfasts are waste-free with reusable cutlery, cups, plates and bowls all used instead of disposable items going to landfill.
Cows Create Careers
Nagle College and Bundalaguah Primary School welcomed two new dairy calves to their school campuses.
Through Dairy Australia’s Cows Create Careers – Farm Module project, the students learned about dairy industry careers in a very hands-on way: over three-weeks they reared and cared for two three-week-old calves.
At Nagle it formed part of the Year 10 Agriculture Science class project.
Local dairy farmer, Ron Cornall, who has supported Nagle with this program for many years, taught the students how to care for the calves, and demonstrated skills such as animal husbandry, feeding and weighing.
Sally Roberts, Program Manager – Workforce Development at Dairy Australia said that the innovative project shines a light on the diversity of professional careers within Australia’s vibrant dairy industry.
Nagle College student Abbey Morrison who completed the program last year found the experience inspiring. “It was a great experience to do something different, and outside the normal classroom. As a result of this program I have agreed to raise a calf given to our farm.”
Upon completion of the project, students and teachers will be recognised at an interactive Presentation Day, where there will be industry-based games and prizes awarded to the winning teams and schools.
For more information https://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/farm/people/dairy-education-and-careers
VCAL’s War on Waste
Year 11 VCAL students at two ResourceSmart Secondary Schools have been waging war on their school’s waste.
The VCAL students at both Drouin Secondary College and Warragul Regional College have used their allocated Personal Project time to conduct audits of their school’s waste and put into place new reduce, reuse and recycle regimes.
The ResourceSmart Schools’ team in Gippsland has collaborated with the VCAL staff at each school to create a War on Waste curriculum for the Year 11 VCAL students.
Each unit has included a waste audit, education about the reduce, reuse and recycling options available to schools, development of a holistic waste proposal that students can present to the school’s decision makers, and behaviour change and education strategies that students can use to get whole-school buy in.
The curriculum puts students at the centre of the unit, whereby students are encouraged to be responsible for the generation of ideas and the decision making in the process, as well as presenting their proposals to student and staff leadership teams for approval.
The rollout of new ideas in the secondary school environment can be a tricky one, with the uptake of new procedures, such as the implementation of a new waste strategy, requiring clear, consistent and constant messages to the school body.
The VCAL students at both schools have been investigating how to maximise behavioural change of their students and staff and have armed themselves with a varied arsenal of strategies, including:
- clear signage on recycling bins about what can and can’t be accepted
- development of animal sculptures or “trash puppets” made from common school recyclables and non-recyclables showing people visually what is recyclable and what is not
- communication to students and staff at assemblies, during home room time and in school newsletters about the school’s new waste reduction strategy.
As Craig Reucassel mentioned during his waste audit at Kiama High School during the popular second series of ABC’s War on Waste, the school canteen can be a significant source of packaging waste that is difficult to recycle. The Year 11 VCAL students at both Gippsland schools have been working with their canteen staff on ways to reduce packaging waste or provide more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Rollout of the new waste strategies at each campus is still underway, with things set to be fully implemented by the beginning of the 2019 school year. However, it is fair to say that once these students have unleashed their ideas and actions onto their school grounds, both schools are set to reduce waste going to landfill by at least 50%.
If your school is interested in overhauling its waste policies and procedures, don’t hesitate to contact Gippsland’s ResourceSmart Schools’ team. We are at the ready to help you engage in combat with the enemy that is your school’s rubbish pile!
Frog Bog, Water Tanks, Savings and Gold Stars
Airly Primary School has been recognised for leading the way in sustainability with a coveted five-star certificate in the Victorian government’s ResourceSmart Schools program.
ResourceSmart encourages schools to cut their carbon footprint by fulfilling a range of modules and meeting benchmarks for biodiversity, energy, water and waste usage. In the past 5 years since starting ResourceSmart Schools they have saved $8000 which is a remarkable result for a small school. Their resource savings include 39 tonnes of C02, 128 reams of paper and 33,749 kWh of electricity.
Airly students have undertaken a range of activities from building a frog bog, planting a veggie garden, putting food scraps in a worm farm (rather than landfill where methane is produced), installing nest boxes (to encourage local wildlife in the absence of hollow bearing trees), monitored solar panels and use rain water tanks.
Gippsland ResourceSmart Facilitator Rebecca Lamble said by monitoring their electricity bills and solar panel inverter readings, the students identified a problem with the solar panel system and were able to rectify it promptly.
Brenda Talbot, the Principal of Airly Primary School said kids were encouraged to have litter-free lunches and students mostly enjoy getting stuck into the vegie patch. The most recent venture has been planting and identifying locally native species, that will attract birds and insects to their gardens.
“The students were very excited to be awarded five stars; the kids are driving this program, they are at the end of the shovels, reading the electricity bills and composting food scraps.”
Zayed Future Energy Prize Finalists
Lowanna College has been nominated for a second time, as one of four Oceania finalists for the Zayed Future Energy Prize. This annual award celebrates the achievements that are driving impact, innovation and inspiration across five distinct categories: Health, Food, Energy, Water and Leadership in Global High Schools.
Zayed Future Energy Prize organisation covered the complete cost for three delegates to fly Dubai, to attend the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week as well as the award ceremony in Abu Dhabi on January 14th 2019. The delegates chosen were: Judith Stewart; Science teacher/Sustainability Coordinator, Lani Taylor; Middle School student leader and Sally Taylor; Parent.
Lowanna College aims to foster in students a desire for excellence in both academic outcomes, and responsibility toward community, as well as a deep yearning to explore and expand their horizons. Given that we are entering the third Industrial Revolution; our focus is on providing an education involving technology for sustainable solutions.
Our application summary details are:
- Leadership for sustainability program: For middle school students.
- Wicking garden beds: Water reduction above a minimum of 40%, using recycled milk bottles as the reservoir.
- Outdoor classroom and mushroom house: Taking students outdoors to experience first-hand the concepts of biodiversity, food chains, plant types, and an aquaponics system.
- Solar Panels and LED lighting: Save $100,000 per year in electricity bills and over the life of the panels save the school around $2 million dollars, which can then be reinvested in school programs.
- Bio-digester & Solar cars: Modeling the concept, and ease of use for students to gain insight and understanding.
- Bicycle powered phone charger & smoothie maker: Demonstrates to students the comprehension that human powered machinery is much more sustainable than electricity and it is FUN.
Bug Hotel Creates A Buzz
A small idea that started with building individual insect hotels at a Bug Blitz event in September, has bloomed into a five-star bug accommodation paradise, the likes of which have not been seen before in Gippsland.
Students and staff at Araluen Primary School in Sale have been supported by Bug Blitz to create an installation in the school vegetable garden which truly needs to be seen to be believed.
The 4-metre-long structure was built to house a variety of accommodation options for insects and other creatures.
Students hope that by providing this rich habitat, more creatures will be available to pollinate plants in the garden, resulting in an even more productive patch as well as supporting biodiversity in the school grounds and surrounds.
Designed by students with the support of horticulturist Andrew Young, the huge structure was built from reclaimed timber and includes natural and recycled materials.
Students collected items such as gumnuts, pinecones, bark, tin cans, Hebel blocks and even sheep’s wool to incorporate into their design.
Sarah, Year 5, enjoyed the opportunity. “It was really nice to work on”, she said, “Especially when Andrew was helping. I love the creative idea of colouring the blocks and I hope the bugs will come and have a nice time.”
Year 6 student, Charlie was one of the most enthusiastic participants in the project. “It was fun to be given the opportunity to take on responsibility. I enjoyed my experiences and I was happy to get my hands dirty and get involved on the ground,” he said.
All the students involved appreciated the change of pace in their learning. “It was enjoyable to try something different and learn something new in the process. It was great to be out in the fresh air.” Enthused Year 6 student, Declan.
Contact Alison Taylor - Gippsland's RSS Coordinator on:
T 03 5633 2744
Visit the ResourceSmart Schools website for further details at www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/School
Download the ResourceSmart Schools brochure (pdf)
Check out our recent ResourceSmart Schools newsletters