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2019 NSW Environmental Educator of the Year Award winners announced!

At our recent Conference Gala Dinner, announced by Logie-award winner and AAEE NSW Patron Costa Georgiadis, three amazing NSW educators were recognised as the recipients of the 2019 NSW Environmental Educator of the Year Awards.

These awards recognise individuals in NSW who show outstanding abilities to raise the level of environmental awareness in the community and who provide leadership, innovation and inspiration to others thus contributing to quality environmental education.

Jenny Hill, Blue Mountains City Council

Winner, Government education category and Overall Winner in 2019

Jenny has over 35 years’ experience in education as a school principal, director, writer, learning designer, science teacher and consultant. Jenny managed her own consultancy business for more than 20 years working nationally and internationally as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator particularly in the areas of leadership, organisational change and team learning. She is currently an integral team member at Blue Mountains City Council and has instigated the Connecting Kids to Nature project, which has engaged 3,455 students from 25+ schools in the last 5 years. All delivered on a shoestring budget and with part-time hours, the program engages children and young people with the creeks and catchments near their schools. The learning days are tailored to the needs of the schools and the curriculum under the big concept questions: “What’s special in our backyard?” And “Where does the water go”?

Quotes from students give an idea how hugely engaging the program is:

“The only thing I wanted to make it a better day was more time. More time walking, more time in the cave, more time looking at the water, more time with bugs… … Could we camp there?”

“I thought I would explode with information.”

Examples of recent achievements where Jenny was a key contributor include:

  • Swampfest and Waterways Festivals– highly effective community events involving local schools and community groups.
  • Mountains to Sea – a ‘mini student exchange’ where students from the mountains share what they know about their place with students from the sea and vice versa.
  • A highly successful program with Winmalee Highschool, working with students who are struggling at school, connecting with their backyard and each other.
  • Stormwater management projects at two schools, with students involved in all stages of project planning and monitoring, and showcasing the project to other schools and the community.

Congratulations Jenny on the well-deserved honour of being the overall 2019 NSW Environmental Educator of the Year!

Lisa Wriley, Kariong Eco Garden

Winner, Community education category

Lisa was instrumental in the establishment of the Kariong Eco Garden over 15 years ago. This involved many negotiations with council to find an appropriate community space that could be used. The garden is a place for the community to learn about managing vegetable gardens, composting, worm farms, reducing food miles and natural ecosystems.  Local teachers have also been to the garden for numerous professional development sessions and students have been involved in workshops to maintain vegetable gardens and composts. Kariong Eco Garden is also the site for Boomerang Bags which is a community group that Lisa co-ordinates to meet once a month to make shopping bags from recycled material.

As an active member of the central coast environmental education network Lisa helped to develop the Green Canteen project that encouraged schools to reduce the use of single use plastics in schools. Lisa organised the survey for schools and assisted to deliver sustainable cutlery and paper straws for schools to try in their canteens. She has continued to help lead this project in schools for 2019.

Lisa was instrumental in creating and developing resources for the Total Environment Centre ‘s Ocean Action Pod (including lesson plans for schools). The pod is a trailer full of informative displays to raise community and school awareness of the issue of plastic waste, marine debris and microplastics on the environment. Lisa is one of the presenters for the trailer and has successfully delivered the program across Sydney and the Central Coast.

David Giblin, Chifley College Bidwill Campus

Winner, Formal education category

David Giblin has been a Science and Agriculture teacher at Chifley College, Bidwill Campus since 2007. During this time, he has embedded Agriculture as a key subject at the school with up to a quarter of  students participating in the subject. He has taken what was a rundown facility and effectively rebuilt the resource so that it is a model of, not only Agriculture teaching, but the teaching of sustainability.

In 2016 the school farm was nominated with the Department of Education, Futures Directorate, as a classroom of the future due to the strong focus on sustainability.   David has established several partnerships with local businesses that include green waste recycling from local garden maintenance contractors and from our local Woolworths store and the recycling of coffee husks and hessian bags from a local coffee roaster.   In addition, David has been an active member of the Agriculture Teachers network; Marine Teacher Association; and the Local Schools Sustainability network where he lends his expertise to other schools as to how sustainability can be taught and presented. He has been instrumental in establishing the Primary Schools fruit and vegetable competition (an extension of the school’s Agricultural competition) at Penrith Show, which will be run for the first time at this year’s show in August.    The farm facility is frequently visited by other schools including students enrolled in Special Education Units within the Chifley College campuses. In this way he has extended the teaching of sustainability to a wider range of students.  He is an active member of a number of local networks, and has had a major impact on other schools and our local community.

David reflects, “I’d like to thank AAEE NSW for honouring me with this award. The recognition validates the work I have been undertaking and reinforces the value of adopting practices that are sustainable. The fact that I can pass on my knowledge and skills to a future generation gives me some hope that we can make the world a better place for the next and future generations.”

Congratulations to all our 2019 NSW Environmental Educator of the Year Award winners!

Pictured (L-R): Sue Martin, David Giblin, Lisa Wriley, Jenny Hill, Costa Georgiadis

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