Students from schools on the Central Coast descended on Taronga Zoo to immerse themselves in twenty-four hours of learning about the yellow-bellied glider. The 160 students, from Holy Cross Catholic School, St Patrick’s Catholic School, St Joseph’s Catholic College and St Edward’s College, learned that the glider is threatened in the Gosford region.
Primary students were guided by glider experts including Wendy Gleen, a zookeeper and breeding expert, and senior horticulturalist Kevin Crowe. The students also received guidance from CSO Aboriginal Consultant, Dave Ella, and high school mentors. The learning journey continued with an excursion to Kincumba Mountain in August, to see the native habitat of the gliders.
As their knowledge of the gliders’ habitat and threats grew, students felt empowered to work towards real conservation recovery in their local environment. Students will initiate bush regeneration activities, learn from a senior ecologist about yellow-bellied glider habitat and seek an Aboriginal perspective from the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council.
The high school mentors received a leadership training day on 24 July to prepare them to mentor the younger students, where Vocational Education Officer Phil Cox led them through the processes of leading and getting to know their group. They also participated in workshops with zoo scientists and education and keeping staff. Phil commented that “The in-situ day at Kincumba mountain was very successful. The students experienced a number of well thought-out and informative sessions about the yellow-bellied glider and its surroundings. I am really looking forward to seeing the student presentations at the Community Expo Day on the 15th September at Holy Cross.”
This year, the project has been generously supported by Gosford Council’s Protection of the Environment Trust grant, and a donation of one hundred books about gliders from Australian author Jill Morris.
Project Yellow-Bellied Glider is a term 3 project-based integrated learning experience facilitated by Taronga Zoo in partnership with the DBB Catholic Schools Office Educational Services team.