Leading the way in all things environmental

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20 June 2016Image 1 - St Louis de Montfort students enjoy being outside in their school grounds. Image 2 - Julie Wynne named co-Environmental Educator of the Year pictured with principal of St louis de Montfort, Tom Lindeman. Image 3 - St Louis de Montfort's garden to kitchen.

One year ago, Pope Francis inspired us when he called on everyone to unite to protect 'our common home.' As we celebrate the first anniversary of the encyclical Laudato Si' we recognise the outstanding achievements of one of our schools in the field of sustainability and environmental education. St Louis de Montfort’s School, Aspendale, is one of a small number of schools in Victoria to hold ResourceSmart School 5Star Sustainability Certification.

Earlier this month St Louis de Montfort’s received the Environmental School Award in the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) World Environment Day Awards. St Louis de Montfort’s won the award for their whole-school program, From Little Things, Big Things Grow. The school was also a finalist in the Environmental Education Award for their community program, Reaching Out. The UNAA recognises innovative and outstanding environmental programs and initiatives from across Australia and the important work of Australian environmental leaders through its pre-eminent national awards.

Last month Wellbeing and Sustainability leader at St Louis de Montfort’s, Julie Wynne, was named one of the joint Victorian Environmental Educators of the Year. Julie was acknowledged for her incredible drive, knowledge, passion and approach to sustainable education. She is known for taking her commitment to the environment well beyond the school grounds. ‘Julie’s can-do approach has made significant impacts in her school, community and the broader Victorian educational community,’ said the Environment Education Victoria judging panel. ‘Her work is outstanding.’

Sustainability is incorporated across the whole curriculum at St Louis de Montfort’s, including a range of creative sustainability initiatives and practices that provide opportunities for the school to engage the wider community in reducing their environmental impact.

The school’s sustainability education precinct was established in 2013 and is continually evolving. It includes vegetable gardens, a permaculture area, orchard, bush tucker garden, chicken and duck coop, observation wetland ponds, grey water recycling, aquaponics, rabbit hutch, bird aviary, sheoak woodland area, swales, recycled tyre and sleeper walls, recycled tyre amphitheatre, wood-fired pizza oven, a large kitchen built from recycled shipping containers and a reptile habitat.

The school has a hands-on learning Garden to Kitchen (G2K) program that provides for the school’s 420 students in a functioning sustainable environment. Students actively participate in leading the school’s sustainability behaviour change program through groups such as the Marine Ambassador Leaders and the Sustainability Leaders. The leadership groups are involved in actively engaging with other students and communities, and promoting their achievements.

Julie’s sustainable education message is also conveyed to the wider community through delivery of meetings, workshops and conferences on wellbeing and sustainability, such as the ‘Steps to Sustainability’ Conference held in June 2015 and March 2016 at the Catholic Leadership Centre.