November 19 - 25, 2017: Issue 338

Goodstart Cromer Joining Pittwater’s Pygmy Possum Project

Great news this week from Goodstart Cromer on their joining in the Pittwater Pygmy Possum Nesting Box project, with a nesting box to be installed this coming Monday.

The community driven Pygmy Possum Project attracted state funding to Pittwater in 2015. A mini grant of $1500, awarded by Greater Sydney Local Land Services, funded the purchase of 2 high quality wildlife cameras. 

These cameras support an ongoing monitoring program to establish data on the location, frequency and seasonal movements of the Eastern Pygmy Possum on the Western Shores of Pittwater. Other visitors to the nesting boxes, such as Feather-tailed Gliders and Antechinus, are also recorded.

The funding applicant, Rocky Point Bushcare, was backed by Pittwater Council, the Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA), and local state member Rob Stokes.  

Twenty-nine nesting boxes were purchased by residents and placed at the back of properties throughout Elvina Bay, Lovett Bay and Towlers Bay. The project team then visited the Strickland State Forest on the Central Coast to look at the nesting box program run by State Forest Ecology Supervisor and project mentor, Alf Britton, before commencing their pilot monitoring program back in Pittwater. 

Regular updates from Lesley Stevens, have shown the nesting boxes are being put to good use. The project has also given local students some inspiration to get involved in joining other ‘Citizen Scientists’ in providing an ongoing record of biodiversity throughout Australia.

Goodstart Cromer, who were announced as the 2017 recipients of the Goodstart State award for Sustanability Practice, and last week took out the National award in the same category, have been inspiring the little green thumbs they look after in a variety of ways.

"Around 12 months ago we started working on improving the way we embed sustainability across our centre programs and practice. Over this time we have worked with many people in the community including engaging in the bin trim program where we reduced our centre waste and improved opportunities for recycling." explains the Centres Director, Amanda Wilson

"Then  we built a garden in one of our yards with the help and guidance of the wonderful people at New Leaf nursery and other local community members, organisations and families. We have completely transformed our centre environments and the way we look at sustainability. 

"The children have specific jobs they complete every day to care for our centre plants, animals and the environment.

"The first five years is a critical time for learning, what the children learn in these years will span a lifetime; our children are learning ways to care for and conserve the natural world. 

"The garden provides many other opportunities for learning. Recently we placed a fertilized egg underneath our broody chicken. The children watched carefully counting down the days and crossing them off the calendar all the while researching baby chickens. Everyone was so excited when the egg hatched into a small chick and then caring for the baby provided an opportunity to practice care and empathy. 

"We have two new and exciting projects for 2018 one being the Pygmy Possum nesting box. Today the children drew pictures of the possums and talked about why we need to help them. As an advocate for the importance of learning in the early years, I am so happy and proud to see that the children are becoming civic scientists and conservation activists." Amanda said.

Last year a representative from APC Waste Consultants ran a workshop with the children about how to care for worm farms. The centre also worked with a local waste consultant this year to reduce centre waste.

As a result of their learnings from the centre, a number of families have now started sustainable projects of their own at home with the help of a local nursery ‘New Leaf’ which has been assisting the centre with its initiatives.

Seems 'Goodstart' is a practice, not just a name for this great Cromer Early Learning Centre, that's spreading into our local community.

Visit Lesley Stevens' report this Issue - Pygmy Possums in Their Sights (2017)

Pittwater's Pygmy Possum Project - Previously

An Eastern Pygmy Possum