Growing skills in the great outdoors

Students from Pakenham Education Centre Gippsland trekked around Cranbourne Botanical Gardens.

Pakenham Education Centre Gippsland (ECG) VCAL students had the opportunity to dig deep in a unique education experience at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens last week.

The students, aged 15 to 19 years, experienced a sustainable gardening session in the Australian garden.

Teacher, Kim Caldwell, said the excursion gave the students a great opportunity to move beyond their comfort zone and develop new skills.

“ECG College is an alternative school for students who need more support in the classroom and more opportunities to learn by doing,” Ms Caldwell said.

“Many of our students experience issues like anxiety and depression and find it hard to engage or stay focused in a traditional classroom.

“This session required our students to get physical outdoors, which is so grounding for them, while the one-off nature of the event inspired the students to really get involved in learning, so that they wouldn’t miss out on the experience.”

The students were split into groups and given the opportunity to design their own garden, learn about worm farms and plant a golden button native plant to take back to campus.

Throughout the day, the students developed bonds with one another that will support them through the school year.

Following the excursion, students will have the opportunity to design their own garden back at the campus.

Here, they will be able to plant the natives and, hopefully, start their own working farm.

According to Ms Caldwell, the excursion wouldn’t have been possible without a grant from Junior Landcare Environment and Biodiversity.

“For a number of our students and their families, the cost of an activity like this is just too high,” she said.

“However, the cost of not providing experiences like this is even higher.

“Research is showing that young people are getting too much screen-time, which is impacting their physical and mental health.”

The grant will see the students attend further excursions throughout the year, with the next outing taking the classroom to Healesville Sanctuary.

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