NRM Education

NRM Education

The NRM Education program is funded by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board with a vision of seeing all schools and preschools working with their communities to develop the knowledge, skills and values to live sustainably.

The partnership NRM Education (Central Adelaide) has with its host, KESAB environmental solutions, is invaluable to the NRM Education Team whose primary role is to facilitate culture change in preschools, schools and the tertiary sector.

Having access to knowledge and information around the latest in waste education has been a strong value add, enabling both the NRM Education and Wipe out Waste (WOW) teams to better support schools and preschools, improving outcomes for each program.

NRM Education (Central Adelaide) Fast Facts

  • 306 schools and preschools engaged with NRM Education, 222 of these are registered with the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative in South Australia (AuSSI-SA). A total of 3,594 students, children, staff and parents were directly involved in activities.
  • 29 schools and preschools documented sustainability initiatives in their School/Site Environment Management Plan (SEMP).
  • 22 teacher training events attended by 207 educators from 88 schools and preschools.
  • 44 new resources developed, including ID charts, case studies, newsletter articles: embedding EfS, flora and fauna features.
  • 18 community talks and field days held, including Science Alive, the World Environment Fair and workshops about local frogs to promote the FrogSpotter App – an initiative that allows citizens to become the scientists. These activities had a reach of over 32,155 members of the community.
  • 6 Youth Environment Council (YEC) of South Australia events coordinated and facilitated, including 2018 Leadership Camp; Central Adelaide Regional Event; Sharing and Celebration Forum; 2019 YEC Mentor Day; Sustainability Forum; and Leadership Camp.
  • 67 reports from 32 schools on progress towards embedding Education for Sustainability.

Key Partnerships and Events

Partnerships are a key ingredient to success. The NRM Education program works in partnership with local government, non-government organisations (NGOs), businesses and State Government departments on projects that have increased the support and resources available to schools and preschools in order to learn with their communities about living more sustainably.

Over the last 12 months, NRM Education (Central Adelaide) staff worked with 25 partner organisations on a range of activities, some of which are outlined below.

KESAB Sustainable Communities Awards

Alberton Primary School receiving certificate of recognition at the NRM EfS Showcase for their efforts
Alberton Primary School receiving certificate of recognition at the NRM EfS Showcase for their efforts

The NRM Education for Sustainability Showcase was coordinated by the Central Adelaide team and wrapped into the broader KESAB Sustainable Communities Awards on 26 September 2018.

Outcomes were that five sites from the AMLR region received recognition, all of whom presented a five-minute showcase about their efforts to the 100 guests; with feedback that attendees identified new ideas on initiatives to try at their own schools.

The AMLR sites to receive recognition were:

  • Alberton Primary School
  • Burton Primary School
  • Redeemer Lutheran School Early Learning Centre
  • Old Noarlunga Primary School
  • St Johns Grammar School

OPAL Food Garden PD Partnership

Educators gaining knowledge on developing engaging food gardens for students at the Permaculture focussed PD
Educators gaining knowledge on developing engaging food gardens for students at the Permaculture focussed PD

NRM Education partnered with community development staff from the Cities of Holdfast Bay, Marion and West Torrens to deliver a series of three professional development sessions for educators. The sessions focussed on school food gardens, and each was hosted by a different education site. Council staff approached sites and took bookings, while NRM Education ran the sessions and organised presenters.

In addition to having a site tour and the opportunity for participants to share ideas and ask questions, each session highlighted a particular area of food gardening. Topics included starting and sustaining a food garden; permaculture and planting; composting and green organics; and linking food gardens to classroom learning and the Australian Curriculum.

Feedback from participants was sought at each session, and was overwhelmingly positive, with one educator writing: “Really bright, informative presentation by all involved. Well done”. Educators also recorded their topics of interest for future sessions, which has given a long list of ideas to explore in 2019.

EfS Learning Group

Beginning in 2017, the NRM Education team formed a partnership with the Carbon Neutral Adelaide-funded Low Carbon Schools (LCS) Trial Program, which aimed to support Adelaide schools to explore site carbon reduction opportunities.

While the LCS Trial Program concluded in June 2018, the success of the LCS Learning Group during this trial period led the NRM Education (Central Adelaide) team to continue facilitating sessions once a term in an EfS learning group. These sessions had a strong focus on sharing opportunities for participants, and climate change related activities and topics of interest to the group. Educators attended the learning group to hear about other sites’ sustainability initiatives and to share their own progress and learning with other educators. NRM Education (Central Adelaide) officers presented useful, relevant resources and tools available and facilitated activities and group discussion.

NRM Education (Central Adelaide) delivered a workshop, ‘Climate change and carbon reduction programs in AMLR’, at the national Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) conference on the Gold Coast to numerous attendees from Australia and other countries. The workshop featured case studies, interactive activities on climate change, group discussion and an introduction to the LAUNCH cycle for design thinking. NRM Education staff will also be sharing learnings from the LCS Trial Program by facilitating a workshop at the AAEE conference in October 2019.

FrogWatch SA

NRM Education (Central Adelaide) staff have continued to support the FrogWatch SA program.

During the 2018 – 2019 financial year, a total of 609 surveys were submitted by 210 different participants and analysed by NRM Education (Central Adelaide) staff. Recordings were submitted throughout South Australia, including surveys from the South East; Eyre Peninsula; SA Murray Darling Basin; Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges; and Kangaroo Island.

Sixteen different frog species or call races were detected, including the vulnerable Southern Bell Frog and the rare Bibron’s Toadlet. As in the previous year, recordings were again made of the Spotted-thighed Frog on Eyre Peninsula: a Western Australian species that has become established in some wetland areas in Streaky Bay.

Not surprisingly, the majority of surveys were made in and around the metropolitan area and over half included the Common Froglet: a species, as the name implies, that has a wide distribution and which seems to tolerate urbanisation. The other commonly recorded species – Eastern Banjo Frog, Brown Tree Frog and Spotted Marsh Frog – are also happy to inhabit artificial environments like ponds, dams and constructed wetlands.

In addition to the analysis of surveys, NRM Education (Central Adelaide) staff supported FrogWatch SA through numerous media stories, including interviews with the Weekender Herald and Advertiser newspapers, ABC Radio and the Aussie Wildlife Show podcast. Presentations were made at a large number of community and special interest groups, including National Science Week talks at Gumeracha, Woodside and Uraidla; talks to Salisbury Scouts, the Longwood Agricultural Bureau, Stirling Ladies Probus, and the Belair Bush Buddies; a family fun day at Warriparinga Wetland; and a number of citizen science workshops with City of Marion, UniSA and Science in the Pub.

Wipe out Waste Partnership

NRM Education continues to work closely with the KESAB Wipe out Waste Program. Wipe out Waste carries out audits at education sites, and provides advice and recommendations to the school. NRM Education follows up by providing a continuous in-school presence supporting educators and young leaders to initiate and maintain a site’s waste system.

WOW and NRM Education presented two joint workshop sessions, ‘Become a change maker; practical ways to embrace sustainability at your site’, at the annual South Australian State Schools Administrative Officers Association conference in July. A key leader at Golden Grove High School, Sue Ruciack, also gave a great case study on the sustainability practices at her school. Over 93% of participants said the workshop increased their understanding of sustainability, increased their capacity to influence sustainability at their site, and that they found the workshop valuable.

Youth Environment Council

2019 Youth Environment Council mentors at Morialta Recreation Park for Mentor Day
2019 Youth Environment Council mentors at Morialta Recreation Park for Mentor Day

The Youth Environment Council of SA (YEC) is a twenty one year old partnership between the Department for Environment and Water and the Department for Education, which continues with the initiative being coordinated and delivered across the state by the NRM Education program.

The YEC has developed an effective peer learning model in which experienced YEC students are selected each year to assist NRM Education staff in mentoring their fellow YEC students from across SA. In April, the four mentors for 2019 completed a training day with NRM Education staff at Morialta Conservation Park. They then put their leadership skills to the test at the first two events with the whole YEC group.

The 2019 cohort of YEC representatives came together for their first event on Thursday 9 May; 56 students from years 7-11 met at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens for the annual YEC Welcome Forum. This year we have representatives from areas far and wide including Kangaroo Island, Eyre Peninsula, Mount Gambier, the Riverland and metropolitan Adelaide.

Nature based activities included a guided walk through the gardens between rain showers and a tour of the State Herbarium. However, the real focus of the day was to meet and share ideas with other students, and to think about the individual sustainability projects they will work on back at their schools and communities throughout the year as part of their involvement as YEC leaders.

At the end of May, NRM Education ran the annual YEC Leadership Camp at Arbury Park Outdoor School (APOS). Students were involved in both outdoor and indoor activities with a focus on linking explicit learning to real world practice that were used to further develop and plan their projects.

Student Action Forums

Bridgewater Primary School took visiting schools for a nature walk through Heron Reserve at the first Student Action Forum
Bridgewater Primary School took visiting schools for a nature walk through Heron Reserve at the first Student Action Forum

On Thursday 6 June, 16 students from four schools attended a Sustainability Action Forum hosted by Bridgewater Primary School. The forum is part of the central team’s 2019 youth voice program, in which both new and existing student groups from 11 schools are participating. These student groups, with ongoing support from their designated NRM Education Officer, will design and progress a sustainability-themed objective of their choice at their respective school, develop skills, network and share their progress with other students.

The forum’s agenda was based on the activities the students indicated they would find most valuable. The day began with a biodiversity-themed ice-breaker where students introduced themselves to each other and learnt about different animal species. Presentations then enabled the students to hear about sustainability activities implemented at other sites and reflect on how they may like to incorporate elements of them at their own school.

Activities included a nature walk led by Bridgewater Primary School through Heron Reserve, with opportunities to learn about native plant species. After lunch the students used different project planning tools and sustainability-themed resources to help them select and begin to prepare a sustainability inquiry at their site for the next term. Finally, they presented their ideas and the next steps they would take to the other students. We look forward to hearing how the different student-led activities have progressed at the final forum (held in term 3).


Welcome to Sturt Gorge Recreation Park virtual tour
Welcome to Sturt Gorge Recreation Park virtual tour

A virtual RoundMe tour for Sturt Gorge Recreation Park has been created as a resource for teachers to assist with outdoor learning. It can be used before and after visiting the park and is suitable for use by students in the classroom. The tour complements the ‘learning in nature’ at Sturt Gorge Recreation Park professional development (PD) session that was run for teachers. It contains a number of activity stops based around environmental and sustainability learning concepts tied to the curriculum, with each stop illustrating an educational asset of Sturt Gorge Recreation Park. The tour also contains information about plants, animals, learning ideas and links to additional educational resources.

Brownhill Creek Association

Students were involved in revegetating the park by preparing the area ready for planting seedlings
Students were involved in revegetating the park by preparing the area ready for planting seedlings

NRM Education has been a key partner with the Brownhill Creek Association as part of the education and revegetation subcommittee. This collaboration between local schools, government agencies and community has restored native vegetation and enhanced biodiversity in the iconic Brownhill Creek Recreation Park/Wirraparinga. In just a few hours, 190 students and 26 teachers, parents and helpers from local schools engaged in revegetating a stretch of Brownhill Creek, resulting in 2,300 seedlings being planted. This showcased the positive action that can be taken when working towards a shared goal. The event was also attended by the local Member of Parliament.

“NRM Education Officers attended all of the committee meetings and were central to the planning and organisation of the event. They also provided essential logistical support on the day, and their expertise and student mentoring skills were invaluable. The continued involvement of NRM Education Officers means that the long term aims and objectives for native revegetation, habitat restoration and environmental education in Brownhill Creek Recreation Park / Wirraparinga can be coordinated, facilitated and achieved.” Ron Bellchambers, BCA Community Liaison Officer