Wonga Beach State School rewarded for Reef Guardianship

Wednesday February 18 2015, 12:10pm

Wonga Beach State School is among several Far North Queensland schools recognised for their efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef. 

Each year, Ten Reef Guardian Schools also receive $500 Ripples of Change grants as seed funding for new environmental initiatives in their local area, with Wonga Beach State School successful in this round for their Lilypad Lagoon project. 

The lagoon was originally built in 2005 by excavating out the overgrown Helens Creek behind the school. 

Designed by kids and built by contractors, the lagoon acts as a sponge, filtering sediment and nutrient out of water flowing down from farmland upstream before it reaches the ocean and affects the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. 

Wonga Beach State School teacher Rick Weimar said the $500 from the Ripples of Change grant would combine with $2000 provided by the Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC) to re-excavate the lagoon, which has begun to fill in from sediment. 

“It’s doing its job a little too well,” Mr Weimar said with a laugh. 

“The kids designed the original lagoon and its great to see the current students so keen on it, they definitely know what it’s for.”

Five schools also receive $1000 from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, rewarding their environmental projects over the past year.

Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch commended the winning schools on their efforts.

“In the Far North, Gordonvale State School has been awarded for their outstanding commitment to a sustainable future for the Reef,” said Mr Entsch.

“It’s a privilege to be able to recognise Reef Guardian School students and teachers who are committed to helping protect their local environment and the Great Barrier Reef,” said Mr Entsch. 

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the Reef Guardian School students are the future custodians of the Reef and it is important to support their efforts in caring for their environment and promoting real change in their communities. 

“Students are actively involved in activities including tree planting, recycling, energy efficiency, community environmental projects, sustainable farming for school canteens and local waterway rehabilitation,” said Minister Hunt.

“The Reef is facing challenges and all actions — big or small — are vital to the Reef’s future.”

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Schools program includes 310 schools and more than 126,000 students across Queensland.

“It encourages students to be active community leaders in environmental sustainability and encourages schools to commit to a better future for the Great Barrier Reef,” said Mr Entsch.

“Through this environmental education program, each school undertakes a variety of activities aimed at improving the Reef’s health and resilience.”