Awards for top environmental achievements in schools

Published: 17/08/2012

Taking the lead in caring for stranded turtles and reducing rubbish entering the ocean has earned a Townsville Year 12 student a prestigious Virginia Chadwick Memorial Foundation Award for Environmental Excellence.

This year the Foundation sponsored three awards for Reef Guardian Schools within the Great Barrier Reef catchment area to recognise outstanding environmental achievements.

A presentation to the winner of the individual award was made today at the Reef Guardian Student Enviro Committee meeting, as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s 2012 Future Leaders Eco Challenge.

The winners are:

  • Nicole Filipic from St Patrick’s College in Townsville took out the Future Environmental Leader Award for an individual student from a Reef Guardian School.
  • Gordonvale State High School near Cairns won the Reef Champions Award for secondary schools for protecting and regenerating O’Leary’s Creek, significantly reducing litter at the Greenpatch recreational area, building extensive partnerships in the community, and actively fostering students to be environmental stewards through innovative projects.
  • Beaconsfield State School in Mackay received the Reef Action and Awareness Award for primary schools for encouraging each grade level to take on a different environmental responsibility that connects the curriculum to practical actions, such as waste minimisation and turtle protection.

Winners of the primary and secondary schools awards will receive $1000, while the winner of the Future Environmental Leader Award is given $500.

Foundation Chairperson, Fay Barker, said the judges were impressed by the passion and ongoing commitment shown by all the winners for their projects to protect the Reef.

“As the winner of the individual award, Nicole Filipic demonstrates enthusiasm, dedication and leadership abilities when it comes to protecting the Reef,” Ms Barker said.

“Nicole has excelled as the president of St Patrick’s College Environment Committee, taking a leadership role in initiating a turtle stranding workshop and school eco-conference, and being chosen as one of only two Australian students to go to the Asia–Pacific Youth Water Forum in South Korea.

“She has continually come up with practical ideas to help better the environment, and has implemented these by helping to organise events, displays or activities and having an input into her school’s environmental plan.”

Ms Barker said Gordonvale State High School and Beaconsfield State School could also take pride in the example they had set for others.

"This year’s applications were of a high quality and demonstrated the extent to which many schools have placed importance on environmental education in their curriculum,” she said.

“Rather than one or two projects, schools are increasingly initiating a whole host of activities, both inside and outside school hours.”

Ms Barker said the activities of the three winners exemplified the work of the late Virginia Chadwick, Chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority between 1999 and 2007.

"Virginia left a lasting legacy through her passion for protecting the Reef, and that's something the Foundation hopes to carry on through support for environmental activities, education and partnerships,” she said.

"As a former teacher, Virginia advocated the need to involve our future generations and to ensure they understood the stake they had in their local environments.”

Award winners were chosen based on environmental activities, education and partnerships as well as Indigenous engagement.

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