Gateshead’s Eco Warriors

The Environmental Team at St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead has won one of the 2018 Lake Macquarie School Environment Awards.

The awards recognise, support and reward schools that participate in various environmental improvement projects across the city.

The St Mary’s Environmental Team was the overall winner in the high school category for the school’s environmental improvement activities and active participation in Landcare activities throughout 2018.

The St Mary’s Environmental Team members come together for eight Landcare days each year (two per term) and is made up of students from Year 7 to Year 11.

The team members include:

  • Liam Nash
  • Ashlyn Newell
  • Zac McDonald
  • Shannon Dalrymple
  • Grace Baines
  • Allison Mulholland
  • Abby Bourne
  • Kamryn Posner
  • Madeline Murphy
  • Elle Moores
  • Lucy Butterworth
  • Jowin Jesto
  • Lily Steffner
  • Poppy Carter
  • Xander Delaney
  • Christopher Wood
  • Laura O’Neill
  • Nick Cummings

Throughout the year the team have worked on a number of environmental activities and so far have managed to:

  • plant 1000 native grasses, shrubs and trees into the Kennedy Creek Landcare site
  • regularly meet and speak at school assemblies to raise awareness around environmental issues
  • remove invasive weeds and litter from the creek
  • collect recycling and process this at the return and earn facilities
  • care for their stingless bee hive
  • start to build “bee hotels” from waste materials
  • participate in National Tree Planting Day.

The school itself has also been doing its part to help the environment.

Year 8 and 9 students have introduced soil and water quality testing and flora and fauna studies at the Kennedy Creek Landcare site as part of their Ecology units.

Extra recycling bins and an on-site clothing donation bin have been put in place to help with waste reduction at the school. The school also recycles paper, aluminium cans, printer cartridges, mobile phones and has a return and earn station. Any fruit scraps are placed in compost bin. There is also a worm farm and stingless native beehive help with pollination of local plants around the school.

The school also monitors water usage through the SUMs (Smart Utility Management Solutions) program and water monitoring and saving devices have been installed in the school bathrooms. Water audits are also conducted monthly.  

The school’s hall roof has been installed with 52 solar panels which help produce energy that powers the school – any energy leftover is then fed into the grid. 

“At St Mary’s we have a commitment to caring for our environment and providing an opportunity for our students to be able to actively contribute to the environment,” said Katrina Piper, a Landcare Coordinator at St Mary’s.

“Our students are aware of the environmental issues that our Earth is facing and this can often be overwhelming for them.

“By planting trees and regenerating a creek, students feel they can help make a difference. We can see progress and we can feel proud of our achievements.”

Photo by Lake Macquarie City Council.

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