By Emma Prior
Four Yarrawonga College P-12 students have organised a tree planting project in Chinaman’s Island as part of their VCAL school project.
Will Giltrap, Jiy Battye, Darea Battye and Darcy Perez were the main year 11 and 12 students who organised and took part in the project with the help from some year 7 and 8 students.
Last year the students cleaned up a cemetery in the local area but this year they tried to do something more Yarrawonga based.
The Year 11 and 12 VCAL group aptly named “Tree Police” by Will has been working on the project since the start of term, digging holes, preparing bark and getting the area cleaned up and prepared.
When asked what had to be done for the project, the students said it was a community-based project that is required to have an impact on the community.
“The project is about environmental awareness and doing something for the community. Planting trees creates oxygen for the community and provides wildlife with more shelter and new homes,” Jiy said.
“It teaches the kids like the year 7s and 8s about conservation and looking after the community,” added Will.
Will is deeply interested in conservation and this type of task was the perfect project for him to do for his VCAL assignment.
The trees planted were donated by the Australian Nature Farm and Forestry, thanks to Will, as he had been working with them as part of his work placement.
One of the aims of the project was to send a message to everyone that we need to look after the environment.
Another aim was that only trees native to the area were to be planted.
The students have worked on the project every Friday between 9am and 11am and are now in the final stages of the project.
By the end of term the group will have planted all the trees donated as well as put up small guards around the plants to keep possums out and not allowing them to eat the newly-planted trees.
Members of the Eastern Foreshore Committee and Landcare group have also been at Chinaman’s Island every Friday to help out the students.
The younger students who helped out were part of the year 7 and 8 leadership group but weren’t too keen at the beginning to get down and dirty.
“The year 7s and 8s didn’t really want to start to begin with, they didn’t want to get their hands dirty,” Jiy said.
“Once we showed them how to do it they were good, they’re pretty into it now.”
The year 8 students had fun planting trees and said getting out of two hours of maths was even better.
The organising senior students also hope to work with prep students in the near future to do some colouring-ins of the tree project.
“We’re just trying to get kids involved in the community,” Jiy said.
Next term the group hope to get a tree that is dead to start with then allow students to put green fingerprints on the trunk with their names underneath to make it a living tree again.
Bruce McKean from the Chinaman’s Island group was the lead helper of the additional groups that lended a hand in the project and said it was great to see kids involved and doing something of worth to the community.
“It’s great that it is a student initiative and they are out and about in nature helping the community,” Bruce said.
“We’re only here to assist where we can, Will is the main player of the project along with Darrea, Jiy and Darcy and its fantastic that we can help them where they need us.”