Westport Public School workshop targets threatened species

Be inspired: Artist Dale Leach helps Westport Public School children Chermeeka Fernando, Marianne Gona, Celine Amada, Fonu Fatai, Chakira Evans-Morgan and Rori Graham with their threatened species masks at a workshop at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.
Be inspired: Artist Dale Leach helps Westport Public School children Chermeeka Fernando, Marianne Gona, Celine Amada, Fonu Fatai, Chakira Evans-Morgan and Rori Graham with their threatened species masks at a workshop at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.

THREATENED wildlife species of Australia were highlighted at a workshop for Westport Public School students at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.

About 30 pupils from years 3 and 4 made masks of threatened coastal rainforest species including the koala.

They were inspired by Crusader Koala, the 3 metre high sculpture in situ at the centre as part of the Hello Koala Public Sculpture Trail.

Crusader features many of our threatened species and was designed and painted by Queensland artist Dale Leach who facilitated the student workshop.

The workshop was a pilot extension education program initiated by Sea Acres Rainforest Centre and National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Hello Koalas project manager, Linda Hall, said: "We have been overwhelmed with inquiries from a number of schools throughout the region since the opening of the trail".

"We plan to launch the Hello Koalas Education Program early in 2015, however, this workshop at Sea Acres has provided us with the perfect opportunity to launch a pilot program now and see where it takes us."

Leach said: "It's been great fun and very inspiring to work on the Hello Koalas project".

"The main idea behind Crusader Koala also fits with my continuing interest in protecting our natural environment and I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to pilot an education activity as working with children is a great investment in the future."

Centre manager Janet Cohen said Leach was very impressed with the quality of work and the enthusiasm of the children.

"Dale told me there were definitely some budding artists in the group," Ms Cohen said.

The children's artwork and their stories about Crusader will be on display at the Rainforest Centre throughout the summer holidays.

​paul.jobber@fairfaxmedia.com.au