The objectives of the Trust include the provision of education that is grounded in science. QTFN looks for opportunities to provide positive educational experiences that enhance community involvement and engagement in conservation. The Trust has a growing number of programs that work with universities and school students in QTFN properties.
Avoid Island is a central part of the QTFN education program. The island acts as a living classroom for both university students completing field, and for high school students as an introduction into sea turtle biology and conservation science. The program provides students with the opportunity to assist in important scientific research, whilst working alongside leading scientist in the field. Dr Nancy Fitzsimmons and Dr Col Limpus are heavily involved in the program and provide students with an invaluable source of knowledge.
The island provides students the opportunity to observe ‘best case scenario’ conservation. The unique protection of the island from coastal development, light pollution and lack of predators makes it an invaluable learning experience.
Students are able to observe the natural nesting processes of the flatback sea turtle nataor depressus, measure clutch sizes and monitor hatchling success rates. As well as providing an enriching education experience for students, the work conducted at Avoid Island collects critical data about the nesting habits of the threatened flatback sea turtle.
Koala Crossing is a growing part of QTFN’s education program through collaboration with Peak Crossing State School. Our first planting and education day was held in September 2014, where 50 students from years 5 and 6 spent the morning planting koala food and habitat trees.
The students learned about the importance of studying koala ecology and movement within the Mt Flinders area through a koala tracking exercise. A number of koalas at Koala Crossing have been fitted with vhf radio collars as part of the UQ Wildlife Ecology Group survey into the Koala population of Flinders Peak.
They were also able to observe koala scat detection dogs in action. Olivia Woosnam from OWAD environment demonstrated how using dogs in conservation can be a valuable way of obtaining scientific data.
Case study - QTFN and Wonder of Science secondary school trip December 2016
In December 2016, high school students from Cairns, Roma, Gordonvale and Mackay had the trip of a lifetime when they travelled to QTFN’s Avoid Island for a hands-on experience in sea turtle biology.
The students spent three days on the island learning from world-renowned sea turtle expert Dr Nancy FitzSimmons and collecting data for QTFN’s annual nesting and hatchling surveys. The 10 students worked all through the nights to ensure that information was collected for every turtle that nested on the beach. By the end of the trip QTFN waived off some very sleepy but happy students, brimming with stories and enthusiasm for how they can volunteer in next year’s survey.
The trip was part of a partnership between QTFN and the University of Queensland’s Wonder of Science program, which aims to build passion and enthusiasm for science and technology in young Queenslanders, and was supported by the Queensland's Government's Everyone's Environment grants program.
To read more about this trip - visit the Wonder of Science website on the link below: