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Wetland Yarns – Uniting Science and Culture

Plants and wildlife of Lake Mealup captured in a three panel by students at Greenfields Primary

Plants and wildlife of Lake Mealup captured in a three panel by students at Greenfields Primary

Greenfields Primary School recently took part in an excursion to learn about the cultural and scientific importance of two wetland sites in the Peel-Yalgorup System. The “Wetland Yarns” project brought together Noongar Elders, scientists, educators and artists, all sharing their knowledge and stories with students about the value of our wetland system. Students worked with a local artist to capture the experience in a large painting.

The “Wetland Yarns” project educates students about local culture and the Peel-Yalgorup System while outside in the wetland environment. Students develop a deeper connection with their local wetlands and an appreciation of relationships between people and the land. They also learnt about the importance of environmental responsibility and how they can play a role in conserving and protecting our wetlands.

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council programs aim to communicate how we are all part of a living eco-system and everything is connected. PHCC also teaches the community what makes these waterways so scientifically unique and the ways in which we can all help conserve and protect our waterways.

The Wetland Yarns project is one of the first actions of the recently launched ‘Wetlands and People Plan’. One of the plan’s goals is to Increase the community’s capacity to protect wetlands. This is being done in a number of ways, including sharing stories of our wetlands.

Fifty two Year 3 students from Greenfields Primary School participated in the June Wetland Yarns project. The excursion included a visit on country to two wetland sites at the Peel-Yalgorup System; Lake Mealup and Lake Clifton.

The day was led by local Noongar Aboriginal Elders and community leaders with a moving Welcome to Country from Noongar Elder, Harry Nannup. Community leader, George Walley, engaged the students with cultural story-telling and cultural knowledge of the area. George shared Noongar language with the students, teaching traditional names for plants and animals and speaking about the cultural significance of the land.

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council Science Advisor, Steve Fisher, shared with students his knowledge of conservation and the environmental importance of the lakes. Steve’s time with the students reflected his love of the Peel-Harvey environment and how each person’s actions can help to improve the health of the Peel-Harvey waterways.

Sharon Meredith, a PHCC Wetlands and People Officer, facilitated the excursion in conjunction with the Greenfields Primary School principal, Shannon Wright and the Primary School Educator, Leanne Walley making the day a memorable and unique experience for all participants.

Two weeks after the wetland excursion an artist visited Greenfields Primary School to lead students in the creation of a large painting depicting the experience. Angela Rossen is a renowned local artist with special interests in conservation and sustainability projects with schools and community groups. Angela worked with the students over four days to create the artwork which conveys a wetland setting of Lake Mealup and the plants and animals that live in that environment.

The artwork aims to unite the message of science and culture by representing the biodiversity and cultural importance of the wetland through art.  In addition to the wetland excursion the students gained skills in observational drawing, painting and working collaboratively.

The finished artwork is accompanied by a panel depicting the Noongar names for the plants and animals. George Walley assisted in providing the Noongar language translations for the panel. The picture will be displayed at the Greenfields Primary School.

Andy Gulliver, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council Chair, commented on the success of the Wetland Yarns project; “It is a pleasure to collaborate with Greenfields Primary and the Noongar community to create this ‘hands on’ educational experience. We hope this experience leaves a long lasting impression for the students involved and for future students. The artwork is one way to keep that experience alive at the school and continue to pass on the cultural and environmental message to others. This has been a pilot project and we will support similar projects for other schools into the future.”

The artwork is to be officially presented to the Greenfields Primary School on the 17th of November by The Hon. Andrew Hastie, Federal Member for Canning, Mayor Williams from the City of Mandurah and Andy Gulliver, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council Chairman.

This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program and City of Mandurah.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

 

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