Students from four Port Stephens primary schools have signed up to an innovative program to help them design and create a brighter future for themselves and their environment.
Bob's Farm Public, Raymond Terrace Public, St Michael's Primary and Medowie Christian schools have joined Hunter Local Land Services to devise the Kreative Koalas program which provides students and teachers gain new skills and knowledge in areas with a focus on environmental conservation.
Schools engagement officer Jane Lloyd-Jones said that Australia had one of the highest species extinction rates in the world, as well as experiencing increased pressures on biodiversity and natural resources due to climate change and land-use pressures.
"Kreative Koalas invites schools to research a sustainable development goal and, with the assistance of community experts and young farming champions, establish and deliver a local project while interpreting their findings artistically on a giant fibreglass koala," she said.
"The koala is a highly recognisable and charismatic species known across the world and serves as a great talking point to encourage a broader understanding of the issues that are affecting environmental sustainability in Australia."
Kate Stenhouse, the learning and support officer at Bobs Farm Public, said the small two teacher school had signed up for the experience because the students are passionate about the environment.
"The Port Stephens environment is incredibly diverse. We have ancient sand dunes, mangroves, Tomaree National Park (with its local koala population) and the Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park all on our doorstep," Ms Stenhouse said.
St Michael's school teacher Claire Hendley said that Kreative Koalas provided students an opportunity to engage and work collaboratively using all of their combined strengths to examine a vital issue.
"We have a diverse range of ecosystems in our area that support the local tourist economy, with koalas and whales being a major drawcard," she said.
"This program will help our students understand their roles in sustainability and as global citizens."
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