EcoFestival for bug-eyed kids

BUG STUDY: Tamworth South Public School students Izaiah 
Handsaker, Kayla Bailey, Demi Chesterfield and Flynn Peddell are keen to find out what bugs they’ve trapped in their nets. 
Photos: Barry Smith 280514BSC02

BUG STUDY: Tamworth South Public School students Izaiah Handsaker, Kayla Bailey, Demi Chesterfield and Flynn Peddell are keen to find out what bugs they’ve trapped in their nets. Photos: Barry Smith 280514BSC02

ON THE BENCH: Somerton Public School students Tiara 
Markwick, Nicholas Hook, Jack Drew, Annie Hook and Benny Markwick catch their breath during a hectic day out at the EcoFestival at Peel Wetlands. 280514BSC03

ON THE BENCH: Somerton Public School students Tiara Markwick, Nicholas Hook, Jack Drew, Annie Hook and Benny Markwick catch their breath during a hectic day out at the EcoFestival at Peel Wetlands. 280514BSC03

WATER IS LIFE: Tamworth South students Avryl Gattenhof, Tia Cook and Skye Tufrey water some trees they’ve just planted. 280514BSC05

WATER IS LIFE: Tamworth South students Avryl Gattenhof, Tia Cook and Skye Tufrey water some trees they’ve just planted. 280514BSC05

A GREEN army is being marshalled in schools around Tamworth, with Year 4 students getting the good oil on how to leave the world in a better way than they found it.

The Peel Wetlands became their outdoor classroom during the three-day EcoFestival held this week by Peel High School and the Peel Wetlands Landcare Group.

Students got down to the bones of the matter thanks to Tamworth Regional Council’s Col Easton, whose skulls and skeletons have shown students the difference between carnivores and herbivores and their impact on the environment.

Another council staffer, Ian Lobban, got his message across about water conservation by showing the students how taking a shorter shower can make a massive difference to the environment.

They were taken on a weeds safari, where council staff showed students the problems weeds can cause and how they’re transferred from place to place.

The fifth annual EcoFestival has largely been driven by Peel High School head welfare teacher Beth Ross-Ward, who’s also president of the Peel Wetlands Landcare Group.

“I’m just so grateful to all the different people who keep supporting us and coming to us each year,” Ms Ross-Ward said.

The wetlands project has been a labour of love for Ms Ross-Ward and her likeminded friends in Landcare since about 2009 when they began to revitalise the area.

“Every time the students come here and do a bug study, it shows a greater variety of bugs and a bigger biodiversity than we normally get,” Ms Ross-Ward said.

“This comes about if the environment is improving and, with more than 600 trees planted, this has been reflected in the water.

“We’ve had lots more sightings of birds and there’s nothing better than when you’re teaching kids to have three white cockatoos fly in, or a woodland duck, or an ibis walk past.

“It really brings our teaching to life in God’s classroom. For me, I get a real buzz out of it. It makes the lesson that much more practical, more hands-on.” 

Ms Ross-Ward said the annual festival could not happen without the practical and very welcome support of Tamworth Regional Council staff, their Landcare friends and Sustainable Namoi Living, which provided monetary assistance to ensure the festival’s success.

“It makes me very happy to know I’m part of the Tamworth community, to be working together with others on a project that binds us,” she said.

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