Whitsunday students are reef champions

Hundreds of the Whitsunday’s future environmental leaders participated in a day of educational activities 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, did a beach clean-up, made recycling art, and learnt about biodiversity and vegetation in their local area.

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 Whitsunday 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 Whitsundays which participated in the challenge include Cannonvale State School, Hamilton Island State School, Proserpine State School and St Catherines Catholic 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.