The Wet Tropics' brightest young achievers and their mentors were acknowledged today with the announcement of nominees in two Cassowary Awards categories.
On 10 March the Wet Tropics Management Authority's Cassowary Awards will celebrate the numerous outstanding local contributions towards the conservation and preservation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Recipients will be honoured at a gala event at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, across eight categories.
The Young Cassowary Award, sponsored by Daintree Discovery Centre, recognises primary, secondary and tertiary students, groups and classes for outstanding environmental work at school, clubs and in the community.
The Education Award, sponsored by CQUniversity, honours individuals or groups who go above and beyond their roles to facilitate active learning by imparting exceptional understanding and appreciation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Wet Tropics Management Authority executive director, Scott Buchanan, said the nominees in the two categories proved that the Wet Tropics will be in safe hands with the next generation.
"Part of the Authority's charter is to protect, preserve and transmit the Wet Tropics to future generations, so we take pride in the fact that there are so many students and teachers acting as ambassadors and guardians of the area," Mr Buchanan said.
"The fact that this year's Young Cassowary Award nominees are all primary school students shows that the Wet Tropics are being valued and actively protected by our brightest young stars.
"The nominees in the Education category meanwhile are the ones guiding our fledgling scientists and conservationists in their learning journey, and each has shown tremendous passion and commitment to their respective causes.
"Congratulations to all nominees, and we look forward to hosting you on 10 March at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park."
The Wet Tropics Management Authority will release nominees in the remaining categories in the lead-up to the event on 10 March.
Sponsored by Daintree Discovery Centre
Recognising primary, secondary and tertiary students, groups and classes for outstanding environmental work at school, clubs and in the community.
Local student Asha Mayberry went above and beyond with a recent grade five research project on bats, which investigated their role in the ecosystem and public attitudes. Asha raised funds for Tolga Bat Hospital and CAFNEC, and continues to volunteer her time working to educate fellow students and the public on this species’ importance to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Wonga Beach State School – Class 5/6 (2017)
2017’s class 5/6 at Wonga Beach State School recently completed the second phase of the school’s Lily Pad Lagoon wetland rehabilitation programme. Students researched the wetlands, then planned options before rehabilitation on approximately 500 metres of Helen’s Creek was undertaken. The area is now seeing a return of wildlife including Raja Shell ducks, jabirus and fish species, and the project also served to inspire neighbouring landholders to begin rehabilitating their sections of the creek to extend the project.
Atherton State School
Breanne Wadley & Jean Plushke. Grade four school students and budding scientists, Breanne Wadley and Jean Plushke, both raised awareness for the importance of sustainable practices in the Tablelands Schools Science and Environmental Sustainability Enrichment Program. Breanne trialled the use of highly decorated (painted) rubbish bins as an effective way to encourage students to place their rubbish in the bin, while Jean set about designing an effective toad trap using 3D printer technology.
Malanda State School student Jasmyn Pease wanted to change the attitude of her school and community about their plastic bag usage and litter in the town. Following a research project, she implemented JAZ Bags at a local supermarket, providing reusable bags for customers to borrow free-of-charge when they forget their own. JAZ Bags stands are now planned for other sites in the area.
Tolga State School
Ashlee Browning & Ursula Rose. As part of the Tablelands Schools Science and Environmental Sustainability Enrichment Program, grade four students Ashlee Browning and Ursula Rose each undertook a sustainability project. Ashlee proposed rehabilitation of an eroded area near her school’s oval, while Ursula is implementing her “Nude Food” campaign to improve awareness of alternatives to non-biodegradable food packaging.
Mission Beach State School – Year 4/5
Year 4/5 students at Mission Beach State School have continued an important programme producing road signs to avoid Cassowary deaths on the road. Students workshop new sign slogans and produce drawings which are then used on the signs to encourage motorists to take care. The signs have been produced six times since 2009 and have become an important and popular tool in local Cassowary conservation efforts.
Nine-year-old Molly Steer’s Straw No More project aims to ban the use of plastic straws in schools and educate the public on the environmental damage straws can inflict. Molly has secured commitments from 100 schools across Australia to ban straws, potentially removing tens of thousands of straws from circulation—and local waterways—each day.
Sponsored by CQUniversity
Recognising individuals or groups who go above and beyond their roles to facilitate active learning by imparting exceptional understanding and appreciation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
For the past five years Tracie Kersnovske has nurtured future environmental leaders through the Eco Warrior programme at Isabella State School. Tracie trains the school’s young “Eco Warriors” in the areas of water, waste, energy and biodiversity, collaboratively deciding on projects before sending the Eco Warriors to teach younger students.
Tracie’s passion and commitment has led to a thriving school garden, waste management system and a primary school committed to the mantra “Enough for all, forever!”.
During her six years as Woree State School’s science teacher, Debra Townsend has shown a dedication to develop new ways to engage our future generations in conservation. Debra achieved this goal with innovative programmes including annual excursions, leading the school’s participation in community events and encouraging students to assist with the establishment of a school butterfly garden and ‘secret garden’ to supply fruit and vegetables for the school tuckshop.
Holloways Beach & Tinaroo Environment Education Centres: Schools Science and Sustainability Enrichment Program
In 2014, Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre introduced a new program for gifted primary school students, the success of which led to its extension to the Tablelands at Tinaroo Environmental Education Centre in 2017.
The programme—the first in this format in Queensland—runs across the school year, encouraging students to solve real problems in the community. Students undertake research, consult with experts in a range of fields and ultimately develop and implement projects that provide practical solutions to local environmental problems.
Children for Change Inc.
Children for Change recognises that children play an important role in conserving our environment in the years to come, shaping young minds by undertaking regular activities and excursions based on different environmental concepts, values and issues that affect the Wet Tropics World Heritage area.
Children learn through engaging activities, including searching for Cassowaries, scat and food sources in the rainforest, tree planting, beach clean-ups, and building mini “catchments” to show how water and sediment travel from the Tablelands to the Reef.