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Aussie Kids Turning the Tide 

www.AussieKidsTurningTheTide.com

An Environmental Project 

By Lauren,  13 Years Old
Gladstone, Queensland ~ Australia.


Hi my name is Lauren Kirk.  I live in Central Queensland, Australia.  I am 13 years old and I am an average, normal 13 year old girl who likes listening to music, reading and wearing great clothes.  I have lots of good friends and enjoy visiting them and having sleepovers.

My project:
 

Before I went to school in Yeppoon I attended Monto State School, Monto Qld, Australia from Preschool to Year 7 (Primary School).  Monto is a small country town in central Queensland that is nowhere near the ocean.  
 

As a direct link to the content we were learning about in Year 6 at Monto State School and a school camp North Keppel Island Educational Environmental Centre at North Keppel Island off the coast of Yeppoon I became more aware of where I live geographically and the importance of being more aware of our daily habits.
 

We had an open drain beside our house that I used to go yabbying in.  Sometimes it would fill up with litter:  beer bottles, tetra packs, plastics.  The local council solved this problem by opening the fence below the drain to let the water and litter run into the Three Moon Creek.  When I looked at a map I realised that the Three Moon Creek ran into the Burnett River and eventually made its way to Hervey Bay near Bundaberg and out across the tail end of the Great Barrier Reef.
 

It made sense that if every small country town was doing the same thing then our Great Barrier Reef was going to be in a sad state soon.  So I wrote to the local council, spoke to the Local Landcare Group, I approached the farmer who leased the land that was being littered and a group of friends and I cleaned it up.  The local council rewired the fence, cleaned up the drain and became more aware that children play there.  
 

A friend, a year below me in school, then wrote again to the council to complain about the local council Wash Down Bay for their trucks.  The council after using their trucks would take them to this site this time on the banks where the Monal Creek met the Three Moon - and wash all the dirt, seed and contaminants into our water ways.  Our local council are now examining alternatives.
 

At North Keppel Educational Environmental Centre they taught us about potable water, about plankton and oxygen, about global warming and the ozone layer.  
 

We went plankton trawling one night to view the little phytoplankton's and the zooplanktons.  On our earth these tiny little organisms are so important to the scheme of things.  Without them the earth would wither and die. We learnt about zoozanthalae. Zoozanthalae are little animals that give the coral their colour and provide food for the coral.  Global warming has caused the ocean temperatures to rise and these zoozanthalae leave the coral and the coral will die.

   

The Great Barrier Reef lies off the east coast of Australia. It is the world's largest coral reef. Coral reefs have been called the "tropical rain forests of the ocean."

   

 A study by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network found that 16% of the worlds coral reefs were effectively lost in nine months during the coral bleaching event of 1997/98. 
 

In 2002, 60 % of the Great Barrier Reef was affected and up to 90 % of the corals in in-shore reefs died.

   

We saw the white, bleached coral and realized that the Great Barrier Reef provides the world with its own special indicator that Global Warming is real and is happening now.
 

In the holidays I would snorkel at Lady Musgrave Marine National Park (2 hours boat trip off the coast of Bundaberg, Qld Australia) and at Agnes Water.  I was impressed with the beautiful coral, the special fish that are protected there and the importance of looking after these reefs.  It is vital that we protect this environment for the future generations.
 

Our Year 6 & 7 teacher helped us build an organic vegetable patch, a scarecrow, a worm farm and then we built a chicken coop.  Every morning we would water and feed the chickens, clean out their run and put the manure on the garden.  We would water and weed the vegetable patch and give the weeds to the chickens and the worm farm.  When the worm farm became full we would put the compost back onto the vegetable patch.  We grew a great patch of potatoes, tomatoes, celery, parsley, snow peas and beans.  We later had two ducks which loved eating the worms from the worm farm.
  

We also learnt in school about water quality.  Once or twice a term we would visit our hydrology site and explore a local dam.  This dam caught water that eventually would have run in to the Three Moon Creek. 
  

Every time we visited we found different organisms.  Sometimes the dam had dead animals in it and we wondered what would have happened to them. 
 

We spoke to the agricultural teacher at the local secondary school and to the Monto Landcare Group about water quality.  They taught us about the role of the dung beetle.  We began to monitor the dung beetle numbers and types.  Of the nine beetles that are in the Upper Burnett we could find eight.   These beetles reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the waterways by building nests and burying the dung.  The also help aerate and fertilize the soil, and reduce fly numbers.
 

Because of everything we were learning and doing I began getting my immediate family to begin making changes in our home. 

    We changed the light bulbs to energy saving bulbs.

    We made our own vegetable patch and worm farm.

    We started buying everything in bulk so that we didnt have as much litter to put in the bin. 

    We pack our lunches into containers and dont use plastic wrap.

     Once a week we bake cakes and biscuits we stopped buying commercial packaged biscuits because of the excess plastic that they are wrapped in. 

    We began collecting plastics and aluminium cans for recycling.

     We began putting our shopping into cardboard boxes at the supermarket and returning the boxes when we finished with them.  A plastic bag free home.

    As we were making changes I began to influence my friends to also make changes in their homes and so did my Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents. 

    I helped my grandparents build vegetable patches and worm farms.  My cousins now pack their lunches without plastic wrap and take home made cooking to school for morning teas.

I have created a weblog to inform and inspire other children to become involved in looking after the environment.  (Thanks to Thomas Rayner Associates)

 

 

The goals I have for my project:

    To raise awareness of the importance of our environment to the children of Australia. 

    To empower the children and their families with the attitude that every little thing counts and we can all make a difference. 

    You only have to make one change in your lives and others will follow.

I accomplished my goals by: 
 

Just by being me and making little changes often.
 

With knowledge, as I know more about the environment I know then how I can change my thinking.  By changing myself I can influence others to make changes.   
 

A friend of mine, asked me one day, What can a kid do?  It is not as if anyone would listen anyway!  He soon found out that he can make a difference and people do listen to children.

 

From my project I have discovered that:

    That children can make a difference.

    That the environmental journey only takes one step make one change and other changes follow.

    That knowledge is power.  The more I know about the environment the more I can do.

 

How did this experience change my family and I:

    I understand the meaning of global warming, the importance of the food chain and the food pyramid. 

    I understand that to make changes we need to think globally and act locally.

    I have become more aware of the needs and wants of others.

    I have become more confident in approaching people who I dont know.

    My public speaking skills continue to improve.

    I have discovered a special part of myself that really likes and cares for others.

 

My plans for the future:

     To continue being me.

     To continue with my project of raising awareness of environmental issues with children and adults.

     To attend The International Childrens Conference as a member of the Junior Board and an ambassador for Australia and as a spokesperson for the environment.

     To continue with my web log that Mr. Thomas Rayner has taught me how to use. www.aussiekidsturningthethetide.com

     To work hard at school so that when I finish studying I will be in a position to help others.

     Not to take what we have for granted.

     To grasp every opportunity and make the most of life.

   

I have learnt a lot about myself in the past few years.  Environmental issues have become part of who I am.  I enjoy nature the ocean and the beach.  I suppose a natural curiosity and an environmental educational school camp to North Keppel Island Educational Environmental Centre at North Keppel Island off the coast of Yeppoon, (near Rockhampton) Queensland, Australia, helped make sense of Global Warming.
 

The International Childrens Conference helped me remain motivated when I discovered other children think like I do too.  
 

The belief that the children of the world can unite - make a difference and help lighten our environmental footprint.

 

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