Case studies

Here you will find case studies of successful environment clubs at:

  • Ballina High School
  • Bede Polding College, South Windsor
  • Burood Girls High School
Student team drives long-term garden project - Ballina High School

Ballina High School is located on the far north coast of New South Wales. With almost 500 students, the school emphasises the importance of environmental management across the curriculum and whole-school community. The Ballina High School Student Representative Council (SRC) Landcare Group started in 2005 and was originally a subcommittee of the SRC.

What was the action?

In 2005 the Ballina High School SRC Landcare Group was given a plot of unused land at Kingsford Smith Park, which they converted into a beautiful native garden.

How was action taken?

Over the past decade hundreds of students have contributed to the rejuvenation of the site at Kingsford Smith Park. The project has been almost entirely run by students, from initial design and creation to ongoing care and maintenance.

Students are responsible for organising planting, cleaning and maintenance days as well as consulting with the Ballina Shire Council Nursery about which species to plant according to habitat and purpose.

The students have planted more than 25 species of plants and more than 1000 trees and shrubs, while also clearing rubbish and weeds, watering plants and mulching the garden.

Last year the Landcare group celebrated the site’s 10-year anniversary with a tree-planting day and festival. Students organised the entire event, which included:

  • recruiting about 20 students to help on the day by making announcements at assembly and roll call as well as advertising in the school newsletter
  • contacting the Lions Club to provide a free sausage sizzle for guests
  • inviting key stakeholders to help them celebrate, including the Ballina Shire Council and Ballina Shire Council Nursery
  • contacting the local newspaper to write a story about their event.

In 2015 the group is planning to generate signage for the site so that people can learn about the native flora and fauna.

How were obstacles overcome?

One of the biggest challenges for the students was getting one day off per term to participate in projects. These were carefully planned by students who were responsible for:

  • getting permission from the school executive
  • consulting with teachers to make sure there were no major assessments on that day
  • obtaining permission from parents
  • consulting with stakeholders to ensure their availability to help on specific days.

Why did the action matter?

The grounds now provide habitat for local birds and animals and have also become a place where people can relax and picnic with friends and family.

The project empowered many hundreds of students to be a part of clean ups, tree planting and maintenance days. These same students now have increased pride in their community and the environment.

Act now

Get in touch with your Landcare NSW group to see how you can help your local community become a more beautiful place.

Visit Landcare's Website

More food garden teaching and learning resources

Inspirational garden created on tiny budget - Bede Polding College

Inspirational garden created on tiny budget

Bede Polding College is a co-educational Catholic high school located in South Windsor and has about 1200 students. The Eco Group was formed in 2006 and today has more than 50 members.

The Bede Polding Eco Group transformed a patch of unused school lawn into a low-budget garden using recycled resources.

The Bede Polding Eco Group transformed a patch of unused school lawn into a low-budget garden using recycled resources.What was the action?

Bede Polding Eco Group transformed a patch of unused school lawn into a low-budget garden using only recycled goods. With big dreams and a small budget, the group had to be thrifty and resourceful!

How was action taken?

The eco group relied on upcycling and community support to collect the materials needed to kick off their garden project including:

  • sourcing timber frames from the local plumbing shop to construct garden beds
  • using discarded pallets to make tomato stakes and compost bays
  • collecting straw from the local agricultural goods suppliers to use as mulch
  • persuading the school to convert left over food scraps into compost and worm wee
  • collecting old newspapers to use as weed mats.

They also came up with great ways to raise funds for soil and seed including:

  • holding second-hand markets to sell clothes, books and stationary
  • engaging the Technology and Applied Studies classes who donated left-over offcuts to sell as firewood
  • getting Year 12 students to build recycled garden beds to sell to teachers and other schools
  • selling fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden.

Several teachers helped germinate seeds and grow different varieties of plants, and one student set up a Facebook page so the group could discuss projects and talk about upcoming events.

How were obstacles overcome?

The main challenge was finding the time to do all the projects on their list. The school executive and staff were supportive from the start, and as small projects led to small successes the eco group became recognised as an effective way of teaching sustainability. This led to the school executive making further allowances in terms of time allocation.

The school principal was so impressed with the eco group that meetings are now incorporated into the school timetable!

Why did the action matter?

The garden is an excellent example of what a club can achieve with limited resources and a bit of creative thinking. Today the garden provides the school with fresh produce as well as providing a tool with which to educate students and teachers about recycling, biodiversity and team work.

Act now

Sustainable Gardening Australia has more information on building your own school garden

Small change, big environmental gain - Burwood Girls High School

Burwood Girls High School is an all-girls high school located in Croydon with almost 1500 students. The Burwood Girls Environment Committee was formed almost 15 years ago and has worked on various projects from school gardens to whole-of-school recycling programs.

What was the action?

The Burwood Girls Environment Committee persuaded their entire school community to bring reusable water bottles instead of buying packaged water from the school canteen or shops.

About 750 students now bring their own water bottles and the school has reduced packaged water consumption by almost 50 percent.

Burwood Girls Environment Committee was successful in getting whole school community to bring reusable water bottles instead of buying packaged water.

Burwood Girls Environment Committee was successful in getting whole school community to bring reusable water bottles instead of buying packaged water.How was action taken?

The environment committee started off with the small goal of fundraising $1000 to donate to an environmental program of their choice. By selling hot chocolate at lunch time, they raised almost $2000 in just a couple of months!

They then engaged the school captains and School Representative Council (SRC) to collect ideas from the student body. The results of a survey conducted by the SRC suggested students wanted a filtered water fountain for the school. The environment committee thought this would be a great way to encourage students to refill water bottles instead of buying them.

The environment committee researched different types of filtered water fountains and purchased one for $1800 using the money raised by the students.

How were obstacles overcome?

Once the water fountain was installed the environment committee faced the challenging task of convincing more than 1200 students and teachers to change their behaviour. 

Getting creative with their communication, the committee ran a video campaign which explained the importance of bringing your own water bottle to school and how it would benefit the environment. They played the video at assembly and made announcements during roll call.

Importantly, they lead by example and called on their friends to do the same!

Why did the action matter?

Packaged water has a devastating effect on the environment. For every ton of plastic from packaged water bottles more than 3 tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere; not to mention when littered they often end up in the sea, killing marine life that mistake it for food.

By reducing their consumption of plastic water bottles, Burwood Girls High School is doing their part to reduce the harmful effects of global warming and protecting vulnerable marine life.

Act now

More information about how to reduce your school’s use of bottled water