St Mary’s greenthumbs help grow future for Kennedy Creek

Lake Macquarie City Council

St Mary's Year 10 student Jasper Groenendijk working on the creek rehab project.jpg

Teacher Katrina Piper remembers when Kennedy Creek running alongside St Mary’s Catholic College at Gateshead was little more than an unkempt and overgrown drain.

Fifteen years, 15,000 plants and countless hours of voluntary work by students and staff later, and the waterway sits at the heart of a lush and thriving ecosystem.

It’s also a living, breathing outdoor classroom, where students learn about everything from ecology to soil testing and water quality.

The creek’s rehabilitation is part of an ongoing school program and partnership with Lake Macquarie City Council, aiming to create a more sustainable campus and surrounds.

“It allows our students to get out and learn how to do ecology in an actual ecosystem,” Ms Piper said.

“We’ve also just started an environmental sustainability course looking at the environment, but also the bigger picture of ecology and climate change and what it will mean on a local level.”

The school’s broader sustainability push has included the introduction of energy efficient LED lights and fan timers, passive solar building design, construction of an organic vegetable garden, introduction of a recycling program and installation of an aquaponics garden.

Ms Piper said the school worked closely with Council and Landcare throughout its journey, with Landcare volunteers and Council staff visiting regularly to offer advice and guidance.

“I think everyone really benefits from this partnership,” she said.

“Our students are getting real-life working skills in a natural ecosystem, and we’re helping rehabilitate the area around the creek, which is on Council land.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser congratulated St Mary’s staff and students for their hard work and passion.

“Partnerships like these are a win-win for our community and the environment,” she said.

“We’re always keen to foster new links with schools and other organisations in Lake Mac to create a greener and more sustainable city.”

Entries are now open for the 2024 Lake Macquarie School Environment Awards, recognising innovative and inspiring sustainability projects happening at local schools.

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