Poowong Preschool becoming sustainability leader
Preschool hub of dairy community
The township of Poowong in the heart of the South Gippsland dairying region in Victoria, 110 km south east of Melbourne is a small rural service centre focused on the surrounding farming activity. At the heart of this little town is the Poowong Preschool, which, given its central location and the community demographics, acts as a community hub for parents with children aged newborn to five years. As such, the Poowong Preschool is a valued and important part of the community, and gears itself toward local community needs.
The Preschool submitted an application in Round 10 of the Gardiner Foundation: Working in Dairy Communities grant program for funding to enable them to complete a number of projects to ‘enrich and enhance the preschool experience’ for the children, staff, parents and broader community. The projects included:
- Purchasing parenting and teaching resources to support children and parents experiencing a range of issues;
- Installation of an exhaust fan in the children’s toilet area;
- Installation of a solar grid-connect system; and
- Purchasing a greenhouse to help children develop knowledge about growing their own food.
The final report received from the Preschool recounted their success in delivering each of these projects with a grant amount of $4,250, with the exception of the conversion to solar power, which proved to be too big a challenge. Undeterred, the Preschool pursued alternate sustainability initiatives, including undertaking an energy audit and implementing cost-effective recommendations to be more energy efficient, as well as the installation of a 50W solar panel to power a light switch in the children’s cubbyhouse.
Small steps to encourage sustainable living
Taking steps to becoming a sustainable preschool is the first stage in educating the kids at Poowong Preschool about sustainable living. In addition to their new greenhouse and solar panel, other elements of sustainable living already demonstrated at the Preschool include vegetable gardening, worm farming, composting, native plants, collecting rain water in tanks, and using water efficient garden and household products. The new exhaust fan in the loo has even contributed to the Poowong Preschool’s sustainability endeavours as an environmentally friendly solution to eliminating unpleasant odours.
These sustainability initiatives tie in with the National Early Years Learning Framework, and the Poowong Preschool is hoping that by providing an effective sustainability education at this level, that it will have a ripple effect as they grow a community of individuals who are creative, empowered and positive about the futures they are creating.
It certainly seems to be working! The kids are learning that if they leave the light on in the cubbyhouse, the solar power runs out. One parent commented that their daughter was concerned with making sure the lights were turned off at home now. And the corn they’ve harvested from the greenhouse has gone a long way to nurturing a little crowd of enthusiastic gardeners, all keen to try out their green thumbs.