Best in biodiversity

Students from Kyneton Secondary College collect insect traps they made and installed at Bald Hill Reserve as part of a collaborative project with Upper Campaspe Landcare Network, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Friends of Bald Hill Reserve to collect data on insect populations, the main food source of the vulnerable phascogale. Lily Wickham and Carmen Smith are seen here analyzing insects they found in one of the traps. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Students from Kyneton Secondary College collect insect traps they made and installed at Bald Hill Reserve as part of a collaborative project with Upper Campaspe Landcare Network, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Friends of Bald Hill Reserve to collect data on insect populations, the main food source of the vulnerable phascogale. Lily Wickham and Carmen Smith are seen here analyzing insects they found in one of the traps. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Significant work across sustainability projects has seen Kyneton Secondary College named the Biodiversity School of the Year in the ResourceSmart Schools Awards.

Students have been working with Macedon Ranges Shire's environment department and local landcare groups to conduct field studies on insect populations at Bald Hill Reserve, near Kyneton.

By monitoring insect diversity in potential habitat sites, scientists hope to learn how the availability of certain foods affects the continued presence of brush-tailed phascogales.

Students designed, built and installed insect traps to collect data at Bald Hill and worked closely with Macedon Ranges Shire Council's environmental officer William Terry.

KSC sustainability coordinator and biology teacher Dr Anwyn Chapman said this collaborative project gave students a unique opportunity to work with those in the field and volunteers to gather real-life data and strengthen ties between the school and the community.

Judges liked the use of students' data to conserve an endangered species, alongside the collaboration with a variety of stakeholders on this project.

For the past year the college's sustainability group has also worked with the community to run regular tree planting events along the Campaspe River with more than 1500 native trees planted, since July last year.

The awards winners were announced today by Sustainability Victoria's Interim CEO Stephanie Ziersch.

She congratulated Kyneton Secondary for its efforts which led it to be named Biodiversity School of the Year.

"This is 'citizen science' in action and helps us to better understand these animals whose habitat is increasingly fragmented," Ms Ziersch said.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Castlemaine's Winters Flat Primary School received a Highly Commended in the School of the Decade category, while Chewton Primary School was also a finalist for Student Leadership School of the Year.

Winters Flat Primary was the 2015 ResourceSmart School of the Year and continues to perform well.

The school is a five-star ResourceSmart school that embeds sustainability into the curriculum and engages and empowers students, staff and parents.

The school's 'Students Leading Change Sustainability Program' started as a vision to reduce the school's carbon footprint.

Over a decade later, the school remains committed to this vision through its shared leadership culture.

In 2016, the school's sustainability program won the Premier's Recognition Award and the Education Award at the Premier's Sustainability Awards, as well as Parks Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award and Bendigo's Healthiest School Award.

Chewton Primary strives to work with local schools and organisations through its student leadership initiatives to promote environmental issues and to develop positive attitudes and responsible practice.

This year, the different leadership groups have presented to and educated both Chewton Primary and external students on the importance of natural grasses to improve biodiversity, campaigned to have plastic bags banned, presented at a district landcare day and ran workshops on food webs for students from 10 different schools.

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