A Word from the RALF (July 2023)
I am thrilled to share some exciting news from a recent educational initiative involving students from Hay, NSW. These enthusiastic young individuals have been actively learning about the critical efforts being made to save the Plains-wanderer, a bird species on the brink of extinction.
The journey began with the students visiting the property of Bert and Liz Matthews, local landholders at ‘Bedarbidgal’, which serves as a release site for the Plains-wanderer. Located 40 km from Hay, this picturesque property became a classroom for discussions on the various threats faced by Plains-wanderers, their preferred habitats, and the significance of captive bird releases.
Under the guidance of experts, the students engaged in a range of activities designed to deepen their understanding of Plains-wanderer conservation. With David Parker and his trusty dog Molly, the students participated in monitoring exercises to detect the presence of Plains-wanderers. They also had the opportunity to identify suitable habitat for these endangered birds through a habitat assessment led by Cassandra Hook from Riverina Local Land Services and educators from Taronga Zoo. Furthermore, the students delved into the history of the property and learned how private landowners like Bert and Liz Matthews play a crucial role in protecting Plains-wanderers. Bert shared valuable insights into the conservation efforts undertaken on their property.
Another highlight of this educational initiative was the participation of over 40 school students from Hay War Memorial High School, Hay Public School, and St Mary’s Primary School in a Plains-wanderer in-situ project at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. During their visit to the zoo, the students engaged with conservation keepers who shared valuable insights into the challenges faced by the Plains-wanderer. The students even had the chance to utilise VHF (Very High Frequency) radio equipment to locate a hidden tracker, similar to those used for tracking Plains-wanderers, near the Education Centre. They then proceeded to explore Taronga Sanctuary, which serves as a home to the Zoo’s Plains-wanderer conservation breeding programs.
Inspired by their experiences, the students collaborated to devise their own conservation solution projects. These innovative initiatives were showcased at an expo day for the local community of Hay. The expo served as a platform for students to raise awareness and showcase their community awareness conservation campaigns designed to protect, support and educate others about the Plains-wanderer. The range of projects presented was astounding, including a video game, a Plains-wanderer app, a LEGO representation of the bird, posters, flyers, Shark Tank-style sales pitches, traps and a wonderful storybook.
The efforts and dedication displayed by these students are truly commendable. Through their involvement in this project, they have not only acquired knowledge that will stay with them for a lifetime but they have also contributed to creating much-needed community awareness. The expo day was a celebration of their accomplishments and a testament to their new passion for wildlife conservation.
We are immensely proud of the students’ exceptional work and their commitment to protecting the Plains-wanderer. Their active engagement in this conservation project exemplifies the potential for young individuals to become the torchbearers of change in our community. Congratulations to Riverina Local Land Services, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Taronga Western Plains Zoo, the schools involved, and the landholders in the Hay district for their collaborative efforts in making this educational initiative a resounding success.
This article was written by Jade Auldist. Jade is the Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) for the Riverina region. Her role supports farmers, industry and community groups (including Landcare Groups) to adopt new and innovative sustainable agriculture practices.
For further information on this article, please contact Jade at firstname.lastname@example.org.