Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Young Environmental Leaders program

Young leader Jackson Muller from Booborowie Primary School at the Burra Mine site as part of the most recent YEL forum. Photo: Bonnie Maynard, DEWNR.
Young leader Jackson Muller from Booborowie Primary School at the Burra Mine site as part of the most recent YEL forum. Photo: Bonnie Maynard, DEWNR.

This year’s Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Young Environmental Leaders program has engaged students from the lower Mid North with exciting and dynamic hands-on environmental learning.

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Senior Landscapes Ranger Bonnie Maynard said as part of the program, YEL leaders from 10 participating primary schools across the Mid North and Rangelands – Booborowie, Brinkworth, Blyth, Snowtown, Clare, Watervale, Auburn, Saddleworth, Balaklava and Manoora - came together to take part in a series of workshops. 

“The workshops are designed to connect students to nature and local spaces, encourage inquiry-based learning, establish an understanding of sustainable land management practises and give students, parents and teachers the opportunity to meet technical experts,” Ms Maynard said.

This year, workshops focussed on invertebrates and native grassland communities, with an emphasis on the ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ model.

“This model empowers young people to voice their ideas, and share their learnings with peers, classmates and the schooling community through a student-run workshop..”

At the May workshop, students enjoyed a fascinating session on invertebrates with Kristen Messenger from ‘Bugs and Slugs’ and Natural Resources Northern and Yorke staff.

They learnt about invertebrate taxonomy, the important and varied roles of invertebrates within natural and urban ecosystems, designing insect traps and exploring insect tracks and traces around the Blyth Primary School grounds

In August, YEL leaders, parents and teachers learnt about native grasslands at the Burra Mines site.

Burra Visitor Information Centre and National Trust’s Brodie Bowers showed the group through Morphett’s Enginehouse Museum and explained the history of the mines.

Students also rotated through a series of activities led by Natural Resources Northern and Yorke staff and Anne Brown from Greening Australia, on native grassland communities, kangaroo population dynamics, pest plant species and techniques for monitoring surface cover in grasslands in the Rangelands.

Ms Maynard said one of the key outcomes from the YEL program was the exposure of YEL leaders to local heroes and positive role models.

“The interaction with individuals who are experts in their field can help to spark an interest in young people, drive positive change and build passion and value for our natural resource assets, in turn leading to long-term outcomes for recruitment into volunteer groups, community programs and local employment.”

The final forum is to be held in November and will bring together all YEL participants for 2017 to present an end of year ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ workshop, covering local environmental issues that they have been investigating throughout the year.

Funding and support for the Young Environmental Leaders program is provided by the Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Management Board through funding from the National Landcare Programme.

Schools interested in learning more about the Young Environmental Leaders program should contact the Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Centre in Clare on 8841 3400 or visit http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/northernandyorke/get-involved/education