Duhallow students exemplars of the Green School initiative

A HEARTENING sign of hope is that so many young people are growing up with an appreciation of the natural world, hugely boosted by initiatives like Green Schools, writes Donal Hickey.

Unlike previous generations, the seed is being sown while they’re still in primary school and, maybe even becoming a lifelong passion.

Sometimes, the seed is planted outside the school room, with what’s happening in north-west Cork being a good example. IRD Duhallow’s bird of prey project (Raptorlife) is bringing communities together to manage uplands and rivers and giving endangered birds of prey, such as hen harrier and merlin, a chance of survival.

Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, in the heart of Duhallow, has an enviable record in the national Young Scientist competition, producing numerous winners in recent years. The IRD project, which also takes in schools in the area, has provided inspiration to the budding scientists and their teacher, Derry O’Donovan.

Jack Murphy and Michael Sheehan, 16-year-old transition year students at the school were among the top award winners, recently, and they got the idea for their hen-harrier project from visiting a local exhibition on wildlife in the area.

All of which highlights the importance of the raptor project in creating awareness among the young people and bringing public attention to the beleaguered hen harrier, especially. Duhallow children are encouraged to take an active part in recording wildlife in their localities.

Doing their fieldwork, Jack and Michael sometimes went out into the hen-harrier territory before dawn and after dusk to trap small mammals, which were then released. Their findings add to the information bank on the hen harrier and are useful to the people running Raptorlife.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency has teamed up with photographer and music video director Christian Tierney to launch a competition for secondary schools themed ‘The Story of Your Stuff’.

Students are invited to choose an everyday object such as a pen, mobile phone or a water bottle, and use a visual medium to illustrate its lifecycle, where it came from, how you use it and more importantly, where it’s going to end up.

A pen, for instance, could have started life in a tree in another continent, while a plastic water bottle might have been made from oil originating in the Middle East.

The competition is open to students up to and including 18. There’s a €500 prize for the winning entry and €500 plus a video workshop with Christian Tierney for the school. More info at www.thestoryofyourstuff.ie


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