Seeds plant habitat awareness

The Patch Primary School students Braden, James, Caellan and Georgia with environmental education teacher Michelle Rayner, Yarra Ranges councillor Samantha Dunn, Learning for Sustainability representative Anthony Mann and principal Debra Herrmann are excited about the award. 108863 Picture: REBECCA BILLS


THE Patch and Ferny Creek Primary Schools have been announced as the winners of the HabitAT Plan category for 2013.
The HabitAT school awards were developed by Yarra Ranges Council’s Learning for Sustainability team to congratulate and reward schools for the creative and valuable work they are doing.
Not only do these schools plant the trees, they sow seeds of respect, care and understanding in the hearts and minds of students.
Environmental education teacher Michelle Rayner said being recognised in such a way affirms what the school does in partnership with Yarra Ranges Council in working together to improve and protect local habitats for local wildlife.
“When our students get to grades three and four across our school we spend those years with them involved in our environmental education program and we focus on habitat restoration,” she said.
“We have spent a few years identifying the situations where our habitats are concerned and conducted a habitat census, which the Shire of Yarra Ranges created, and that identified a benchmark for us as a school.
“For the kids this is ongoing support and recognition that what they are doing is of great value.”
Mrs Rayner said the students understand the significance of this award because it reflects directly on student action.
“It’s a great acknowledgement of what we are doing and adds credibility by winning an award,” she said.
“The trophy provides ongoing, daily reminders that we are going in the right direction.
“It also provides an opportunity for our students to attend conferences and excursions to other areas that too are focusing on the same kind of works in a community setting.”
Yarra Ranges councillor Samantha Dunn said she has no doubt that The Patch Primary School lead the field in habitat restoration and she is very proud to be the local councillor and award the school in such a way.
“I think the work they do is tremendously important because it is actually building a future generation that recognises and understands how critical habitat is in terms of a healthy life,” she said.
“I think, ultimately, the kids love doing it but it is really planting the seeds on how important the environment really is in our future generation.”
The Patch Primary School Principal Debra Herrmann said the program would not exist without the Yarra Ranges Council and Mrs Rayner driving the learning landscape with the students.
“To make a difference you have got to take that one small step and if we start with our students they will become our agents of change,” she said.