Ayr students are reef champions

Hundreds of the Burdekin’s future environmental leaders have participated in a day of educational activities at Plantation Park to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The activities were part of the annual Future Leaders Eco Challenge, which was run as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian Schools program.

The theme for this year’s event was community stewardship in action. Students planted trees, learnt about water quality, went bush walking and learnt about biodiversity in their local areas.

GBRMPA program officer Bonnie Boyce said the event aimed to encourage students to learn about and care for their local environment, in turn contributing to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Burdekin region has a strong connection to the neighbouring Great Barrier Reef and the local teachers and students have an important role to play in its future,” Ms Boyce said.

“The event aims to empower them, give them a sense of involvement in the bigger environmental picture, and encourage them to make a positive difference.

“Environmental projects in Reef Guardian schools contribute to broader actions that are helping protect the Reef — all actions, big or small, are vital to the Reef.”

More than 230 students participated in the challenge from East Ayr State School, Home Hill State School, Gumlu State School and Saint Francis Primary School.

Local environmental groups also participated in the challenge.

The challenge was combined with a National Tree Day Event after East Ayr State School won a Ripples of Change grant they put towards the community event.

Future Leaders Eco Challenges will take place in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas, Innisfail, the Whitsundays, Burdekin, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Capricorn Coast, Mackay, Ingham and Bowen.

GBRMPA’s Reef Guardian Schools program includes 276 schools, over 120,000 students and 7400 teachers from Brisbane to the Torres Strait.

For more information about the Reef Guardian Schools program visit www.gbrmpa.gov.au.