Animal Ambassadors Spread the Environmental Message

As educators, we often struggle to engage our audience in meaningful learning.  Environmental educators are no different.

It’s easy to engage the keen audiences, the ones that ask lots of questions and are generally eager to learn about conservation issues.  It’s the ones that are only marginally interested that take lots of effort.

Nicolette with a Squirrel Glider

Photo courtesy of Mauricio Payan Luna

I was fortunate to have Adrian and Tamara from Animals Anonymous give a presentation to my TAFE students the other day.  They brought with them their wonderful cohort of native Australian animals.  Adrian Sherriff has been using animals as a catalyst to teach people of all ages about environmental issues for years.  Nearly every person I’ve seen is fascinated by wildlife, especially when it’s something they often don’t get up close to.

One might call these animals exotic, but they aren’t.  They are exotic in that many people don’t know anything about them, yet they are native to Australia.  It always disappoints me that most Australians know more about African animals than our own.

Adrian is on a mission to change that, but he also does more.  He talks about many contemporary conservation issues, and people listen.  They are enthralled.  The wildlife are a big part of that.  I’ve seen three of his presentations now, but on the most recent occasion he brought a Rufus Bettong, Long-nosed Potoroo, Tawny Frogmouth, Green Tree Frog, lots of lizards and a Carpet Python.  I think the stars of the show, however, were the baby Carpet Pythons.  Everyone loved them.

Having native wildlife running around the classroom is a great way to engage your students in discussions about biodiversity issues – whether it be ecological adaptations, habitat loss or something in between.

Tamara from Animals Anonymous with the Carpet Python and Brayden

Photo courtesy of Chanthamany Siliya

A Bearded Dragon foot

Photo courtesy of Mutsumi Katayama

Mauricio with a juvenile Carpet Python

Photo courtesy of Nicolette Solomon

Mutsumi and a Bearded Dragon

Photo courtesy of Nicolette Solomon

Marine Leaders are Stars of the Sea

Congratulations must go the Marine Discovery Centre for winning the state round of the Schools First Awards.

The Marine Leaders project run by the Centre is a fantastic initiative engaging school students in marine and coastal conservation.  Not only do they learn about marine ecology and environmental issues, but they also actively participate in conservation programs.

The Marine Discovery Centre

Some of the aquaria (photo courtesy of the Marine Discovery Centre)

The practical nature of their learning really helps students to understand life in our oceans and why land based activities impact on the marine environment.  Too often in our community what goes on under the sea is out of sight and out of mind, but these students are starting to turn that around.

The facilities are full of excellent learning activities, but I’d have to say the aquaria with live fish are my favourites, especially the Sea Horses.

Well done to Tim Hoile and everyone that works and volunteers at the Centre.  Kudos also to the Star of the Sea School who supported the development of the Marine Discovery Centre 15 years ago.

Good luck with the national awards in November.