Wirraminna on wheels
The Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre’s sustainability message is going on the road to the next generation of ecologically-aware young Australians thanks to the Small Grants for Rural Communities (SGRC) program.
A grant of $4,920 enabled the Centre to provide an incursion program for preschool children within the Greater Hume Shire area in the New South Wales’ Riverina region.
Wirraminna is set on a four-hectare park in Burrumbuttock, north-west of Albury, and offers wetlands, native plans and wildlife habitat unique to Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands. Preserved by local volunteers, Wirraminna presents a model for local Landcare projects that aim to restore native vegetation and wetlands on farms to redress problems of declining biodiversity.
Incursion program educates and protects
While the wetlands are a haven for wildlife, at the same time, they can be a potential hazard for inquisitive young minds requiring high-level supervision and stretching the resources of local preschools.
Thanks to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal grant, the Centre developed the Wirraminna on Wheels program, which throughout its trial phase delivered incursions to six local preschools at no cost. Hands-on learning experiences include live water bug activities, puppet shows and an introduction to threatened species along with resources for the preschool which allows learning to continue after Wirraminna on Wheels has moved on.
The success of the Wirraminna On Wheels trial means that the program is now able to engage over 20 preschools across the Hume region. Staff from the Centre have been invited back to preschools to give science lessons at the cost of the operators, while visits to the Centre by preschools are increasing.
Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre Executive Officer, Owen Dunlop said that the Wirraminna On Wheels program would have a lasting impact on the community.
“This project benefits rural communities within the Greater Hume Shire by increasing the connection to students, teachers and their families with their environment, supporting existing educational objectives of the preschools and giving access to experienced educators, information and resources for rural preschools.”