As regional NSW continues to recover from devastating floods and the fires of 2019-2020, Inspiring Australia NSW will trial a pilot program with four NSW Regional Science Hubs to deliver community programs that build connections and raise awareness of threatened species and biodiversity issues.
Our place, our species will engage communities in the Far South Coast, Central West, Paterson Allyn Williams and Northern Rivers regions with the why and how of species preservation and the critical value of healthy ecosystems to planetary health and wellbeing.
With a particular focus on youth engagement, Our place, our species will aim to create increased awareness of biodiversity issues through cross-cultural and First Nations knowledge, art and science engagement. A key component will be fun and engaging activities for young people aged 12 to 24 presented during NSW school holiday periods in addition to general community events.
Each region will provide opportunities for young people to be mentored by scientists and/or artists and participate in governance and decision-making.
As a pilot project, Our place, our species will create a framework for developing collaborative engagement experiences that use science and art to inspire community members to help to secure the future of Australia’s precious threatened species.
The year-long initiative will be documented and shared as a demonstration model for best practice community and youth engagement with the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of species and habitat preservation, combining science and art as a means of engaging diverse communities with threatened species issues.
“The most effective way to engage community members with the critical need to preserve habitat to protect threatened species is to provide engaging and entertaining opportunities to learn about the plants and animals in their immediate community, and what they can do to help them survive,” said Inspiring Australia NSW Manager Jackie Randles.
“Our place, our species will involve local project teams working together with young people, scientists and Indigenous knowledge keepers to create unique opportunities for community members to explore local biodiversity through welcoming and memorable experiences.”
In addition to youth mentoring, professional development opportunities will be provided for program presenters through networking and training via webinars to provide skills and reflect on project challenges and outcomes.
Pilot projects will be documented by Inspiring Australia NSW, with case studies shared in a resource guide that can be offered to stakeholders including councils, universities and the placemaking sector.
“Our mission is to demonstrate how STEAM engagement can enhance threatened species projects and build skills and knowledge. We hope to inspire others to develop placemaking projects that encourage community members to get to know the wildlife, plants and ecology of their local places including through Indigenous Ecological Knowledge,” said Jackie.
Feature image by Jackie Randles shows participants in a bioblitz organised by Sapphire Coast Regional Science Hub and Sustainability Educators Network. Our place, our species will roll out throughout 2022.