It was an amazing experience for Year 3 students of Saint Aloysius’ College Milson’s Point in Australia who joined last May 2016 the North Sydney EarthKeepers Program, developed by Virginia Cobb, a Year 6 teacher, and Alex Moors, a parent member of Saint Aloysius’ Sustainability Committee, with a lot of assistance from Helen Eggelton Girl Guides and North Sydney Council.
The Institute for Earth Education in West Virginia, USA developed the EarthKeepers program, written around 20 years ago for children aged 10 to 12. Numerous studies were conducted into the effectiveness of the program and it was found to create long-lasting change to environmental behaviours and attitudes.
The journey for Saint Aloysius’ College started in 2013 when it was suggested that students undertake the training program to become EarthKeepers. The school was keen to find a way to run the program with their students and it was difficult, with hurdles to jump and partners to find.
This year, the program was undertaken at the North Sydney Council’s Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability, Waverton. This centre “transforms an ex-industrial site to a place that showcases innovation, enables hands-on learning about sustainability in daily life, and serves as a community meeting point and hub for the Council’s environment and sustainability programs.”
Through the support of the school’s Sustainability Committee, Saint Aloysius’ College, Milson’s Point is now licensed to run the program annually.
The Year 3 boys now have the keys of knowledge and experience but will be undertaking further work at home to become full-fledged EarthKeepers. The journey it took to get EarthKeepers happening in North Sydney is a story of persistence and collaboration, and could be seen as a metaphor for the journey that is needed to become a sustainable school!
For more information, you may get in touch with Sue Martin, Sustainability Centre Coordinator, Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview NSW at smmartin(at)riverview.nsw.edu.au, Alex Moors, member of the Environment Committee, Saint Aloysius’ College Milson’s Point at alexmoors(at)optusnet.com.au, and Virginia Cobb, Grade teacher at Saint Aloysius’ College Primary School, Milson’s Point, at Virginia.Cobb(at)staloysius.nsw.edu.au.