“EDUCATION is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
These words by Nelson Mandela, resonate strongly with Libby Edge and her organisation Eco Barge Clean Seas, established to engage the community of Airlie Beach to protect the marine life and aquatic environment of the Whitsunday islands and coast.
In fact, Ms Edge believes educating our children about looking after this precious resource is of the upmost importance if future generations are to become involved in preserving the beauty and conservation value of the Great Barrier Reef. It was this that led her to create the Eco Ambassador Program, an initiative designed to teach selected students how to protect the Whitsunday islands from the threats of marine debris.
The idea behind the program is for the ambassadors to go back to their peers and promote the mission and environmental message of Eco Barge within their schools.
On Saturday the very first ambassadors went out on the Eco Barge on a trip to Grimston Point, a local ‘hot spot’ for marine debris.
On board for the trip were Ben Ivers and Lily Arena from Cannonvale State School, Chloe Sullivan and Faith Sylvester from the Proserpine State High School and Grace Rule, Molly O’Connor, Quinn McKenzie and Katya Bandow from St Catherine’s Catholic College.
Coming back into Port of Airlie at the end of the trip, 14-year-old Katya Bandow said she had learned how important it was to collect the marine debris “because it can kill wildlife”. “I love living here and I want to keep it beautiful for generations to come,” she said.
Katya said bottles, thongs and pieces of plastic were the most common pieces of rubbish the crew came across.
The ambassadors then continued their training at Eco HQ that afternoon, where they learned about all of the Eco Barge programs and how to care for marine turtles at the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre.
Ms Edge said she was extremely excited to finally launch the Eco Ambassador program and she looked forward to working with the students and schools throughout the year to deliver all the objectives of this exciting project.