Students connect with landscape

Rain, hail and freezing cold winds did not stop the region’s passionate Young Environmental Leaders experiencing the annual Earthkeepers Camp at Naracoorte Caves recently as part of the Young Environmental Leaders Program (YELP) held by the Limestone Coast Landscape Board.

Seventy-two young students from 22 schools took part in the camps with students experiencing a connection to nature and learning about working together to sustainably manage our landscape.

Participation numbers were high, resulting in three consecutive camps being offered to cater for all the students.

Landscape Education Coordinator Vanessa Freebairn said it was encouraging to see the interest in the program continue to grow each year.

“I think it is a good indication of how much schools in the region value environmental education and are embedding it into school curriculum,” Ms Freebairn said.

“The Earthkeepers Camp is such a fun adventure where students get to explore the outdoors and appreciate the landscape around them.”

Newberry Park Primary School Student Support Officer Angela Jones, who has been attending the camp for the past eight years, said the Earthkeepers Camp was her favourite event of the year.

“The students really appreciate being out in nature and love going on bush adventures and really taking the time to understand the beauty they are surrounded by,” she said.

The Earthkeepers Camp is part of the Young Environmental Leaders Program, which supports students on a year-long journey.

They lead sustainability projects with their school communities with the fascinating projects being undertaken this year including Indigenous gardens, school waste audits and the construction of wildlife nest boxes.

Before leaving camp students wrote down a pledge listing the changes they will make in their own lives to have a positive impact on the environment such a reducing their energy use, recycling at home or riding to school.

They also nominate how they plan to continue connecting with nature once back at home.

“I hope the students will be inspired to take their family on adventures in local forests and reserves now they have a deeper appreciation of the local Limestone Coast landscape,” Ms Freebairn said.

The next young Environmental Leaders event will be held in Term 3 and will be all about on-ground action with students taking part in controlling environmental weeds such as boneseed and bridal creeper.

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