Students in year three and four at Tacking Point Primary School had the opportunity to learn about ecology and weed control on February 8, when members of the Port Macquarie-Hastings Weed Team came to class.
As part of the class’ ongoing environmental education program students had the chance to learn about the vital work the council’s weed team are doing in the natural spring at the edge of their school.
This includes the release of Salvinia weevils, a special biological control for Salvinia Molesta, which is a worldwide recognised aquatic weed that is present in spring behind Tacking Point Primary School.
Thor Aaso, Port Macquarie-Hastings council’s natural resources manager said the exercise was all about educating and inspiring the next generation to care about the environment.
“Today we are doing two things, first we are putting in a biological control for the salvinia which is an invasive weed in this spring but we are also using the opportunity to educate some of the students at Tacking Point Primary about invasive weeds and what they are doing to the local flora,” Mr Aaso said.
“Projects like this are really important, salvinia is an extremely invasive weed, for example council has spent the better part of five years trying to eradicate it from Maria River and that was just one infestation, so it can have a huge environmental and economic impact on our natural waterways.”
Mr Aaso also said the weed team taught the students about the biological control weevil, how to set up a quadrant, how to establish the weevil in the infested area and talked about ongoing monitoring of the site.
Extension class teacher Sally Norman said that the students had been keen to continue with the ecological project they started last year.
“This project was started last year class has been working closely with Ben White who is the invasive weed officer at council and it is a great opportunity for the students to learn STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects using real world examples,” Mrs Norman said.
“What we have been learning about in science is the life cycle of the weevils and the salvinia, for technology last year we used a drone to survey the area and see what is happening in the local environment and for maths we came and measured the depth of the spring and the area and perimeter of the spring.”
The students were able to talk to the weed team and ask questions about what was happening in the local environment and feel the Salvinia weevils before they were released into the spring.