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Year 6 students from across the Margaret River region showcased some inspiring environmental solutions when presenting their annual projects from the Our Patch program run by Nature Conservation Margaret River Region.

Ten classes from five different schools across the Capes region descended on the HEART last Wednesday. It was the culmination of a year-long project, with the kids learning about what makes the environment in their local catchment so special and how it can be cared for now and into the future.

Each school took on a particular environmental issue they identified in their area, finding innovative solutions to project the local ecosystem or biodiversity. Among them where the students from Cowaramup Primary School who teamed up with Department of Fisheries and Murdoch University researchers to combat feral goldfish in their local waterway. And Margaret River Montessori School students who put the Yalgardup Brook under the microscope and devised ways to protect the waterway’s namesake – the yalgar (native carrot).

Margaret River Independent School students designed an impressive water catchment area model to demonstrate the effect of pollution in waterways, which they will pass on to future classes on the subject. MRIS students Hugh and Daniella said they graded all the catchments based on vegetation and water quality. “I learned that the more plants and vegetation there are near the water the healthier the water is and the more dissolved oxygen there is,” Hugh said.

Meanwhile, Rapids Landing Primary School explored litter and cleaning up our natural areas. And Margaret River Primary School devised new shelters to boost the breeding success of critically endangered hooded plovers, helping to bring the iconic birds back from the brink of extinction. “Before we did this project I didn’t even know the hooded plover existed, but I’ve learnt that it is such an endangered species, and everyone should protect it,” said MRPS student Milley.

MRPS teacher Mark Harrison said the students work was very in-depth. “The kids aren’t just skimming over the top. They actually go in and do a lot of research, a lot of field studies and a lot of discussion and debriefing on it, so it’s real for them,” he said.

Nature Conservation’s Our Patch officer Lauren Scanlon said the students’ projects would make a real difference to the community and environment. “What makes Our Patch so special is that the students go out on country, learn about our unique river system, conduct their own scientific research and make assessments,” she said. “When they spend time along the river and hear from local people dedicated to protecting the catchment, they understand the threats and they’re inspired to take action and find solutions to protect this special place.”

The event was a huge success, with many proud parents and guardians looking on. Among the faces in the audience was NCMRR board member and parent Hamish Worsley, who said he was “blown away but the thoughtful, informative, and inspiring projects presented with honesty and fun”.

Our Patch is generously funded by Lions Club of Cowaramup, Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, Margaret River Rotary, the Paskerville Foundation, Shire of Augusta Margaret River Heart, Riverfresh IGA, Margaret River Fresh Produce and local schools. Thanks to key speakers Shire President Paula Christoffanini and Cr Tracey Muir.