Hoist The Green Flag! Eco-Schools Lead the way towards Sustainability!

Published 1st December 2022. Written by Maddison O’Brien

Watershed Landcare Chair Anne Sedgers and Local Coordinator Maddison O’Brien had the privilege of attending the Eco Schools celebration on November 22nd at Cudgegong Valley Public School (CVPS). The event was hosted and organised by Rebecca Nielsen and the team at Red Hill Environmental Education Centre, who have been driving transformative Eco Schools programs across the region since 2019. Eco Schools, an international program operating in 74 countries, engages over 20 million students globally who work together to improve their schools and care for the planet.

The celebration day brought together eco warriors from CVPS, Dunedoo Central, Mudgee Public, and Goolma to share their sustainability achievements, presenting projects such as waste reduction, garden initiatives, biodiversity plantings, and more. Over the past 5 years, 11 local schools, including Ulan, Ballimore, Gulgong Public, Cassilis, Lue, Hargraves, and Ilford, have embraced this inspiring program, earning awards along the way—an impressive effort from our local students and future leaders!

When asked about their favourite aspect of being involved with Eco Schools, a year 5 student from CVPS responded, “Meeting other students and sharing ideas.” These collaborative days between different schools provide enriching social and learning experiences for the kids. When asked about challenges, a student noted, “It’s hard to make people change their habits,” reminding us all to make a continued effort to shift our behaviours toward sustainability.

A highlight of the day was witnessing several awards presented to the schools. Dunedoo Central and Mudgee Public received a ‘Working Towards Bronze’ award for exceptional work in waste reduction. Goolma Public School proudly received the ‘Eco-Schools Silver’ Award, recognising years of projects, including a biodiversity maze, composting, and waste reduction.

Last but certainly not least, Cudgegong Valley Public School received a significant award presented by Andy Best, Director of Education of Keep Australia Beautiful, the organisation leading the Eco-Schools program in Australia. The eco team bounded to the stage to receive and hoist their ‘Green Flag,’ a symbol of diligent work leading their school in sustainability. Only 6 schools in Australia have received this award, and dedicated teacher Rebecca Daniell beamed with pride for her Eco Team. CVPS has implemented a highly successful waste management program, raised funds for their school with a return-and-earn, built biodiversity gardens, veggie gardens, and animal habitats throughout their vibrant school, collaborated with the Indigenous community, and reduced their school’s water use. Congratulations to CVPS for being admirable leaders in our community!

Well done to our region’s Eco Schools! It is inspiring to see such bright young people leading the way toward a more sustainable future. Well done to Rebecca Nielsen, Rebecca Daniell and all the wonderful educators who inspire the kids every day! The good work continues.