Cairns students are reef champions

Cairns’ future environmental leaders will participate in a day of educational activities at Holloways Beach tomorrow to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.

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

The theme for this year’s event is community stewardship in action. Students will be seeing the country through the eyes of Yirrganydji Traditional Owners, learning about Marine Park zoning, how to conserve water and estuarine and Reef animals.

GBRMPA liaison officer Phil Laycock 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 Cairns 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,” Mr Laycock 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.”

Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre principal Louise Caver said they were pleased to host the challenge.

“It is great to see so many Reef Guardian schools joining together to learn from each other and share their ideas on how to care for the Reef — the Reef receives its greatest benefits when communities work together, this is a key lesson that the students and teachers will take away from the event.”

Schools in the Cairns participating in the challenge include Woree State School, Trinity Anglican School, Gordonvale State School, Mother of Good Counsel School, Machans Beach State School, Peace Lutheran College and Holy Cross School.

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.