Environmental education

Nature Conservation is fostering our future environmental stewards and inspiring children to value, respect and care for nature.

We run three award-winning initiatives – Our Patch, Adopt a Spot and the EMA marine program – which reach almost every young person across the Margaret River region and have a huge impact on connecting them to our bushland, rivers and coast. 

Our Patch

More than 500 Year 3 and Year 6 students from 10 local primary schools learn about what makes the environment in their local catchment so special and how it can be cared for now and into the future. Our staff and local experts lead regular field trips and excursions, backed up by classroom learning using detailed teacher resources packs we’ve developed. 

Year 3 

The children focus on wetlands and fauna with fun and engaging incursions and excursions with specialists. Students learn about the ecosystems that exist in waterways and the role of macroinvertebrates in the food chain. Classes visit their local wetland and assess foreshore vegetation, sample invertebrates like fly larvae and water bugs, catch gilgies or marron, and hypothesise about water quality, laying the foundation for future environmental learning. 

The year is capped off with the annual BioBlitz – a full day of fun and hands-on outdoor learning with sessions from experts on a range of themes like food webs in the river, marsupials and bird life, snake safety and awareness, and sessions on indigenous culture and language. 

Year 6 

The focus is on learning about natural areas and mixed land uses within their local catchment – delving into the values, challenges and solutions in the landscape. Each class tours their local catchment, visiting sites from naturally vegetated through to various forms of agriculture. They work scientifically, collecting data through foreshore assessments, water quality and macroinvertebrates samples, and observations to assess the health of the waterway and local environment. 

Visiting landholders, they learn firsthand about some of the inspiring practices being put in place to care for the land and waterways. They also learn about the indigenous cultural values of their catchment. All the classes come together in term three to communicate their findings and present a project examining a particular environmental issue, coming up with innovative solutions and actually carrying out the work. These projects have made significant real-world impact, with examples such as removing feral goldfish from a local waterway, building beach nesting shelters for critically endangered hooded plovers, and removing weeds to restore a native plant species on a creek line. With such success, the students are often inspired to carry on as stewards for the environment. 

Our Patch is funded by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River’s Environmental Management Fund, Cowaramup Lion’s Club, Margaret River Rotary Club, Paskeville Foundation and participating schools. 

Adopt a Spot

Each Year 4 or Middle Primary class from schools across the Margaret River region adopts a specific area of bush, river or coast, with students becoming custodians over a whole year to affect real change.

Our staff lead regular excursions with students, parents, teachers and each site’s local volunteer landcare group – all getting their hands dirty to learn about and actively care for the landscapes we love by weeding, planting, brushing, monitoring, watering and rehabilitating sites. In this way, Adopt a Spot builds community resilence and relationships with tangible environmental outcomes. 

How it works 

Each year, our staff do an interactive classroom session and lead two excursions to each site with each school. The first is in early winter to undertake rehabilitation work such as planting and brushing, and the second is in late spring to assess the success and carry out follow-up weeding and clean-up activities. Before and after surveys are undertaken with the students to assess their knowledge of the site, its issues and environmental management requirements. As part of connecting to country, the students also learn from traditional owners about the cultural signicance of their adopted spots.

In a typical year, students plant 2000-plus cuttings, 1000-plus seedlings, and lay down many trailer-loads of brush to protect seedlings and dunes. Sites that have been cared for and rehabilitated include riparian zones along the Margaret River and its tributaries, and at some of the region’s most popular beaches including Redgate, Hamelin Bay, Cowaramup Bay and Yallingup. 

Awards and successes 

Our ground-breaking Adopt a Spot program was a finalist in the 2022 Western Australian Coastal Awards for Excellence. It’s so successful because it also develops long-term connections between schools and important nature sites, feeding into and combining efforts with volunteer and Friends of Reserves groups.

We’re constantly innovating the program – the latest initiative involves the students working with some of the region’s most renowned artists. Read about it here. 

Adopt a Spot is funded through the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s Environmental Management Fund and Line In The Sand philanthropic group, with additional grant funding from the State of Western Australia and Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

EMA marine program

Our collaborative, Australia-first program taking students into the marine environment. EMA stands for Educational Marine Program and it is driven by local students working hand-in-hand with marine researchers over the course of a school year. They become citizen scientists, surveying their local marine ecosystem; identifying real-life threats such as algae blooms, plastic pollution or loss of a marine species; and coming up with practical, concrete, step-by-step solutions – and implementing them. 

How it works

It’s the perfect spot because the Indian and Southern oceans meet, the Leeuwin Current fuels incredible biodiversity, and the community has a love of the ocean and surfing, diving, fishing, boating and swimming. But it’s also a place facing many threats.

Started in French Polynesia, it’s a program that is already hugely successful, with more than 200 schools on board around the world (each in charge of a marine ecosystem nearby). EMA has already saved an octopus species and stopped plastic waste from choking a bay. Margaret River’s popular Gnarabup Beach has been chosen by the project founders as the first location in Australia to expand the program.

Masks and marine scientists 

For us, EMA takes learning to the ocean, building on extensive experience and relationships with local schools through our land-based education programs Our Patch and Adopt a Spot. 

EMA kicks off with three Year 5 classes from Margaret River Primary School carrying out surveys of the shore before donning masks and snorkels to survey the marine ecosystem, accompanied by cultural custodians and marine scientists. They’ll also meet with stakeholders before zeroing in on a key threat (such as algae blooms, plastic pollution or loss of a marine species), coming up with step-by-step solutions, implementing them and finally sharing the learning with the community – inspiring more action! 

Address

Community Resource Centre
33 Tunbridge Street
Margaret River WA 6285

Postal Address

PO Box 1749 
Margaret River WA. 6285

Contact Us

Phone: (08) 9757 2202
Email: info@natureconservation.org.au