This year, TropWATER scientists provided high school students at Newman Catholic College in Cairns with a unique opportunity to advance their scientific knowledge beyond the classroom, inspiring a new generation of environmentally conscious leaders.
Under the scientist’s guidance, the Reef Guardian class has taken an active role in rehabilitating damaged seagrass meadows in the Cairns Inlet, while also conducting seagrass monitoring quadrat studies at Green Island.
TropWATER’s marine biologist Evie Furness said the initiative provided students with valuable insights into conservation and the possibilities of marine biology as a career.
“We were able to teach students about techniques for seagrass restoration while working alongside our scientists and Indigenous Sea rangers in one of our restoration projects,” she said.
“We’ve been able to show students how these underwater habitats are vital for marine life diversity and how they can play a significant role in maintaining the health of the Great Barrier Reef.”
The students actively participated in preparing harvested seagrass samples for planting, helping to the revitalise damaged seagrass meadows and promote a healthier marine environment.
“On Green Island, we showed the students about the value of monitoring, why ecosystems need to be monitored, and what’s involved in this. They used quadrats, identification guides, and waterproof data sheets to collect valuable data on seagrass health and biodiversity,” she said.
Matt Radburnd, Newman College Science teacher, said the collected data not only enhances students’ understanding of marine ecosystems but also provides them with a head start for their studies in senior Biology and Marine Science QCAA courses.
“These experiential learning opportunities play an important role in shaping the future environmental leaders of our community,” he said.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the scientists. Through this unique partnership, our students have not only gained invaluable scientific knowledge and skills, but have also developed a deep sense of appreciation for the natural world.”