Smallest advocates make big impact with reef campaign
BUNDABERG'S future looks bright with students from local schools sharing insights on how the community can help to protect the environment and its inhabitants.
As part of National Biodiversity Month, children from around the country entered a competition to share ideas on ways to protect the Great Barrier Reef and marine life.
Launched by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and James Cook University, participants were encouraged to get creative and showcase how the smallest of actions can have a big impact on the environment.
Three Bundaberg entries were submitted including a group entry by teacher Judith Stutchbury and her grade two and three class from Kalkie State School.
"I heard about the Reef RADicals campaign and thought it was a great idea to encourage children to get involved," Ms Stutchbury said.
"We have a very active reef guardian region with lots of schools doing great work and the messages instilled by the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is so important, not only for children but everyone."
The 25 students from Kalkie State School worked together, shared ideas and turned their classroom into a mini film studio where they helped to direct and film the submission.
Helpful reminders for beachgoers feature in the video, such as using friendly alternatives instead of plastics, following the 'three for the sea' rule which means collecting rubbish off the shores and reducing artificial lights to ensure turtles follow the right path.
But sharing their voice for the greater good is not a foreign concept for Kalkie State School students, with classes writing letters to Mayor Jack Dempsey in 2018.
The special initiative saw Bundaberg Regional Council change legislations, reduce the urban glow to increase turtle hatchling survival rates and a ban against releasing helium balloons.
"Students are very aware of the issues that affect the turtles and they are very protective of them, which is just great," Ms Stutchbury said.
"They are tomorrow's leaders and it's very important, particularly for the future generations that we look out for the world because there's no plan B."
In addition to Kalkie State School, a Grade five class from St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, as well as an individual entry from St Joseph's student Elijah Richardson was also submitted.
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef CEO Andy Ridley said the quality of the entries demonstrates the passion Australia's youth has for conservation.
"Reef RADicals is all about highlighting the incredible work kids around the country are doing every day to help protect the planet," Mr Ridley said.
"Through our platforms like Oceanpedia and Reef Tracks, we're showing kids that the Reef is still a wondrous and inspiring place, a place we must do everything we can to protect."
After visiting Bundaberg for the International Year of the Reef, Mr Ridley said he was impressed to see strong leadership skills from young people in the region.
"I was lucky to meet so many passionate kids and teachers when I attended the Reef Together event in Bundaberg in 2018," he said.
"It's inspiring to see how Bundaberg is such a hotspot for environmentally conscious kids - identifying problems and being active in finding solutions is in the fabric of the community."
Grade four student Rosie Stephen from Ulladulla Public School in NSW took out first place in the Reef RADicals competition for her idea to create a biodegradable golf tee made from natural and locally-sourced ingredients.
For more information, visit reefradicals.org.