Here, Dr Bram Mason, former CEO of Eucalypt Australia, explores the drivers behind this project and the benefits of partnering with a like-minded professional organisation.
Children are the future custodians of the environment.
“Nurturing their interests and building capacity to understand and question empowers generations for years to come. So how can a small trust meet its objects of promoting eucalypts and build the capacity of children across Australia to become future environmental custodians?
“Eucalypt Australia, the operating business of the Bjarne K Dahl Trust, is dedicated to promoting eucalypt knowledge through conservation, education and research projects. After wrestling with various primary school education concepts for many years, the board of the Dahl Trust decided to take a more pragmatic approach to supporting education.
Sowing the seeds
“In 2014 the Australian Academy of Science was approached by the Trust to prepare a funding proposal through the Academy’s education arm – Primary Connections. The proposal was to develop a curriculum package that could be used throughout Australia to teach ecological science and life cycles – using eucalypts as the common theme through the package. After receiving a proposal that met the scope, a grant of $15,000 was provided and twelve months later Among the Gum Trees was being trialled in primary schools.
“During 2015 more than one thousand copies of the curriculum were purchased by primary schools around Australia. Learning from feedback, Primary Connections thought there was more scope to distribute the package and make it easier for teachers and students to use. So in late 2015, a further $15,000 was granted to create eucalypt identification cards and distribute 100 copies of Among the Gum Trees to New South Wales primary schools within low socio-economic zones. In October 2016, a further $15,000 was provided for an additional 150 copies to be supplied free of charge to Victorian primary schools in low socio-economic zones.
Partnering with a professional organisation that has similar objects to us, as well as experience and reputation in the area were the main reasons for success.
Dr Bram Mason, former CEO of Eucalypt Australia
More funding with more maturity
“A final piece of the puzzle was identified during 2016 based on teacher feedback of Among the Gum Trees – a proper science workbook on eucalypts would be of enormous benefit to both the students and the teachers. A funding package valued at $70,000 was developed with Primary Connections as the workbook author, plus a distribution package of four copies for every single primary school in Australia. This final package was announced in late 2017.
“Over three years Primary Connections were funded $115,000 to prepare the full suite of Among the Gum Trees resources – the curriculum, the science workbook and the eucalypt identification cards. 250 free copies of the curriculum package were distributed to primary schools in low socioeconomic areas with all 7767 primary schools in Australia receiving four copies each of the eucalypt science workbook, a total of 31,068 copies.
Impact case study: Gum tree education for school kids.
“Partnering with a professional organisation that has similar objects to us, as well as experience and reputation in the area were the main reasons for success. Success has and is being measured in the take up of the package by primary schools.
“We believe the investment of $115,000 was a fantastic value for money project that will contribute to primary school STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and literacy education for many years to come.”
For more information contact Linda Baird, CEO on 0438 245 353.
Meet more members
Purves Environmental Fund
The Ian Potter Foundation