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Interactive environmental education program Williams Wildlife Warriors named finalist in Tidy Towns awards

Isabel VieiraNarrogin Observer
Xavier Stewart, Cruze Haddrick, Jett Haddrick and Jobe Duff with faces painted learning about local Noongar culture.
Camera IconXavier Stewart, Cruze Haddrick, Jett Haddrick and Jobe Duff with faces painted learning about local Noongar culture. Credit: Williams Wildlife Warriors/supplied/supplied

An after-school environmental education program running out of a small southern Wheatbelt town has earned Statewide recognition as a finalist in the Keep Australia Beautiful Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities Awards.

The Williams Wildlife Warriors is an interactive and practical environmental education program hosted by the Williams Community Resource Centre.

The community-led program is a finalist in the environmental education award category.

More than 80 children, out of Williams Primary School’s student population of 122, have been involved in the program since its inception in September last year.

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Williams Wildlife Warriors learning about endangered birds
Camera IconWilliams Wildlife Warriors learning about endangered birds Credit: Williams Wildlife Warriors/supplied

Project co-ordinator Gemma Haddrick said during the sessions the children learned about their local environment, flora, fauna, habitats and connection to country.

“We believe these sessions give kids practical life experience and increase their knowledge of the environment and how to protect our environment on a local scale,” she said.

“It also teaches kids that what we do on a local scale affects the bigger picture, and the kids are able to do something small like plant trees that will actually have a huge impact.

“The kids have definitely extended their knowledge of the environment they live in and are learning about why our area is special.”

Williams Wildlife Warriors and Peel Harvey Catchment Council members learning about river systems
Camera IconWilliams Wildlife Warriors and Peel Harvey Catchment Council members learning about river systems Credit: Williams Wildlife Warriors/supplied

Ms Haddrick said the program was a chance for children to learn about the environment outside of the classroom.

“The kids have their feet on the ground, they’ve got their hands in the dirt or the water, and they get to pick weeds, plant trees and clean up the river bed,” she said.

“They are very much hands-on and they are getting all of their senses activated because they can hear, smell and feel everything around them.”

The program has received funding from several organisations, including the Peel Harvey Catchment Group and Newmont Boddington. Organisers are on the lookout for new sponsors to help keep the sessions running.

“Some of the experts we’ve had are environmental scientists from Newmont Boddington, representatives from Peel Harvey Catchment Council, local Noongar elders and a beekeeper,” Ms Haddrick said.

“Some of the activities we have done include tree planting by the river, we’ve looked at the waterways and hosted river clean-ups, and we’ve learnt about local endangered flora and fauna.

“We’ve also had tours with Red Ochre Dreaming and cultural sharing day with the Abraham family at Dryandra.”

Williams Wildlife Warriors taking part in a river clean up
Camera IconWilliams Wildlife Warriors taking part in a river clean up Credit: Williams Wildlife Warriors/supplied

Ms Haddrick said the program also provided an after-school activity that was not sport or technology-based.

“We have some homeschooled kids that attend so they can have some interaction with kids they might not normally have, which has been really great for them,” she said.

“It’s also very intergenerational.

“We’ve got grandparents who come along, parents, mums and dads.”

She said it was “massive” for the children and volunteers to be recognised as finalists in the Tidy Towns Awards.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Perth on November 25.

“It’s really fantastic and we’re so excited for the kids to know that the effort and enthusiasm that they have put in has been seen and heard in places bigger than just Williams,” she said.

“This lets them know that the impact that they have, no matter how small here, can be quite huge and far-reaching.”

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