Mackay students are reef champions

Hundreds of Mackay’s future environmental leaders participated in a day of educational activities at Mackay Regional Botanical Gardens 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 built fishways and habitats for animals, planted trees and learnt about human impacts on wetlands.

GBRMPA liaison officer Kate Finch 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 Mackay 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 Finch 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.”

Schools in the Mackay which partipcated in the challenge include Sarina State High School, St Francis Xavier Catholic School, Mackay Central State School, Holy Spirit College, Finch Hatton State School and Slade Point State School.

Local environmental groups also participated in the challenge.

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.