Turtles in Schools
Through our Turtles in Schools program, we are working together with teachers and students across Australia creating and fostering an educational culture that develops skills and values that nurtures environmental awareness through connecting children with nature and turtles.
Our Turtles in Schools program builds a connection with local wildlife and wetlands by bringing freshwater turtles into the classroom.
We are currently in the trial phase of the program. Our goal is to make this program available to all Stage 3 primary school classrooms in 2024. In the meantime, we have provided a list of resources and activity suggestions for teachers that can be implemented right away.
By participating in this program, teachers and students also have the opportunity to gain accredited skills that they can develop as a portfolio and facilitate entry into environmental programs at either a University or TAFE.
Read more below and contact us if you would like to get involved.
Why Turtles ?
What is happening to them
In Australia, turtle species have declined up to 91 % over the last 40 years. Attacks from invasive predators, road mortality, habitat destruction, water quality degradation and drought, are the primary factors contributing to this decline.
Role of turtles in the ecosystem
Turtles are the vacuums of the river and are vital for maintaining water quality. They also provide a unique chance for people to interact with wildlife in their natural habitats.
Everybody has a story about helping a turtle cross the road safely and kids absolutely love them. Most importantly, they occur in most urban lakes and wetlands, allowing anyone to connect with them in their local habitat.
Role of this program
The Turtles in the Schools program harnesses this fondness for turtles and our ability to connect with them in their local wetlands. Over time, the program aims to to create a collective of well informed and conservation-driven kids throughout Australia with a range of animal husbandry and environmental skill sets to drive change in their local areas.
How Does It Work?
The pilot program of the Turtles in the Schools program is currently working with Stage 3 classrooms in a select number of schools. Schools will host turtles in their classrooms and enter into a program where both the teachers and students develop accredited skill sets - that they could develop into a digital portfolio (eg. digital certificates from leading training and education institutions).
The digital portfolio can aid entry into environmental, animal and conservation based training and education programs at leading Universities and TAFE.
The students will interact with the turtles in the classroom, and record valuable scientific information such as growth rates and behavioural observations. In addition, each school will connect with their local wetland located within walking distance further enhancing experiential learning.
The species of turtle in each classroom reflects the local assemblages of turtles that can be found in their local wetlands. The 1 Million Turtles citizen science program also provides a range of tools to use.
We aim for this program to be available for any Stage 3 classroom (planned roll-out in 2023-2024).
Finding joy in the natural world is essential to nurturing eco-friendly beliefs and attitudes, and it is never too early to start taking action.
As students develop their knowledge and skills, they will begin observing and identifying environmental issues present in their local areas. Our approach is to provide them with knowledge and skills that empowers them to take action.
Schools participating in the Turtles in Schools program are also integrated into the 1 Million Turtles Citizen Science program - which provides the tools and resources for supporting community conservation.
In addition to knowledge and skills, students will also get the experience of working directly with Local Councils and Wetland Managers driving direct conservation actions. But even more importantly, students lead knowledge transfer to families and local communities through learning the techniques of promoting community actions.
For a great example of a young conservationist in action, watch the video below. This is Charlotte from PLC Sydney and her entry submission to Sleek Geeks, Science Eureka Prize.
Our Partner Program
Terrapins in the Classroom
We are partnering with the Terrapins in the Classroom in the USA. This program has been in operation for more than a decade and have released hundreds of terrapins.
The combination of scientific application, hands-on involvement, and emotional attachment to the terrapins creates an unprecedented opportunity to inspire a meaningful connection with the Chesapeake Bay and its inhabitants.
While Stage 1 of our Turtles in the Schools program is not directly release turtles raised in the classroom, we are working with some schools to create "headstarting" release programs in Stage 2.
The Pilot Program
We are working with a number of schools to pilot the Turtles in Schools program and aim for a full roll-out to schools across Australia in 2023 - 2024. The pilot officially kicked-off in August 2022 (watch video).
If you would like to be a part of the program, please contact us to express your interest. By doing this, you will be notified once we are ready to roll-out the program.
In the meantime, please check out our Teachers Resources page for a variety of activities and materials about the different ways you can get started in turtle conservation right away (page coming soon).