18 February 2019
A group of Animal Ecology students from USC’s Fraser Coast campus are the faces of the future when it comes to caring for the region’s outstanding natural environment.
They have formed Fraser Coast Intrepid Landcare Group, part of a new national movement to connect young people with their local communities and protect the environment.
The students are rallying the community to help stop the flow of plastics and other rubbish into the region’s ocean and waterways by joining in a clean-up at Torquay Beach this Sunday 24 February.
The event is being coordinated by Hervey Bay’s Jessica Sellke, who is in the second year of a combined Animal Ecology/Tourism, Leisure and Event Management degree.
“Our aim is to not only rid the beach of harmful plastics and rubbish but to also contribute to research by analysing what we find and adding it to a national database on marine debris,” Jessica said.
Using an app developed by the Taronga Blue Foundation, the students will automatically record GPS data, add photos and scan the barcode on rubbish so it can be tracked back to its source.
The 23-year-old said she helped to establish Fraser Coast Intrepid Landcare after becoming inspired during her university studies to get more involved with conservation projects and volunteering.
“The response has been fantastic,” Jessica said.
“Everyone has pitched in to plan and promote our events and we're all incredibly excited to run conservation and environmental initiatives around the Fraser Coast region.
“We want to encourage more young people to think about environmental issues in our region and find out how they can go about tackling them.”
It is the second beach clean-up Fraser Coast Intrepid Landcare has organised and more are planned.
USC Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Kathy Townsend said she was proud of the students for taking such a positive, proactive approach to protecting the environment.
“As a Lecturer in Animal Ecology, it is my job to educate the students on the wide range of impacts that humans are having on our natural environment,” she said.
“I find it truly inspiring that these Fraser Coast students have taken this message on board and, instead of throwing their hands up in surrender, they have asked ‘what can we do to make a difference?’”
Volunteers for the Beach Clean-up are asked to meet at Nielsen's Park, Torquay from 3pm - 6pm and bring their own gloves, water and sun protection and wear enclosed shoes.
For more information visit Fraser Coast Intrepid Landcare’s Facebook page.
— Clare McKay