RETIRING PRINCIPAL: Dr David Kopelke is retiring after teaching for 41 years at the Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre.
RETIRING PRINCIPAL: Dr David Kopelke is retiring after teaching for 41 years at the Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre. Mike Richards GLA161118RETR

Principal's retirement after 41 years of teaching

GENERATIONS of students have learned about the importance of looking after the environment thanks to the hard work of retiring principal Dr David Kopelke.

Dr Kopelke helped get the Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre started in 1977 when it had just one building and Malpas St was a dirt road.

Now it is a state-of-the-art learning centre with students attending from all over Central Queensland and around the state.

When the centre first opened it had four earth closets (toilets) because Boyne Island wasn't sewered at the time.

Now it has a wide range of buildings and opportunities for students to learn about looking after the environment.

Originally teaching in Monto during 1975-76, Dr Kopelke came across the opportunity for the centre by chance.

"The Education Department opened up a number of field education centres and one opened in Monto and I applied to go to it," Dr Kopelke said. The department then combined the Monto and Boyne Island centres.

Over time the Monto one grew smaller while the Boyne Island one grew larger and Dr Kolpelke permanently moved to its current location.

Dr Kopelke said the biggest impact he had on students who went through the centre was the lasting impression of how important the environment is to them. "I meet many people who came through here as students and they always share with me the fond memories of their time here," Dr Kopelke said.

"It's very humbling how they will tell you of their 12 years of schooling, coming here was one of the highlights of it."

While Dr Kopelke is retiring from teaching, he will not be putting his feet up and taking it easy with still more environmental awareness work to be done. "I'm going to play an active role in citizen science roles with the Gladstone harbour, air quality and issues with the Great Barrier Reef," Dr Kopelke said.