A leading school education program that teaches students how to help protect the Great Barrier Reef is notching up a major milestone, celebrating its 20th birthday this year.
Since kicking off in 2003, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian School program started with just five schools and has gone on to involve more than 300 schools, almost 10,000 teachers and 150,000 students each year.
The Reef Authority’s Assistant Director Reef Education Holly Lambert, said the program flourished from its humble beginnings to being a key part of many school curriculums.
“Our Reef Education Team pioneered the Reef Guardian School program with just five pilot schools along the Queensland coast,” she said.
“Now more than 350,000 students across Queensland have attended a Reef Guardian School since the program started in 2003.
“The program empowers students to learn about the multiple, cumulative, and increasing threats that face the Reef and coral reef ecosystems worldwide and how they can take informed action to improve the future for all reefs.
“We’re celebrating this milestone year with a range of activities, including a professional development course for teachers, the release of new education resources, and the 2023 Future Leaders Eco Challenge.
“As part of our celebrations we’re also seeking past students and teachers who’ve been involved with the program to share their stories of how the program has inspired and influenced their lives.”
The Reef Authority’s broader Reef Guardian initiative encompasses both schools and councils that go above and beyond to deliver projects to support a healthy and resilient Reef.
Reef Authority Chief Executive Officer Josh Thomas said their actions include recycling, waste reduction, energy conservation, improving water quality, and community education.
“Reef Guardians is a fantastic program, and a great opportunity for everyone to get involved. Our Reef Guardian schools and councils contribute greatly to the protection and resilience of the Reef and help educate the wider community about how they can do their bit,” he said.
“While climate change remains the number one threat to the Reef, we can all play a part in reducing environmental pressures, be it in our homes, schools or more broadly in our communities.
“The Reef Guardian initiative is a great example of what we can achieve, and the impact we can have, when we think global and act local.”
Reef Guardian Schools are welcome to share their Reef Guardian story of achievements, memories over the past 20 years.