ECO GUARDIANS: Kin Kora State School Year 5 students Jaya Cawthorne, Bailee Thompson, Melia Sorrensen and Morgan Allen.
ECO GUARDIANS: Kin Kora State School Year 5 students Jaya Cawthorne, Bailee Thompson, Melia Sorrensen and Morgan Allen. Noor Gillani

Program gives kids tools to mould their environmental future

THIS Year's Future Leaders Eco Challenge is giving the region's children tools to protect the reef.

The annual event is held at various reef catchment areas as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef Guardian Schools program.

Yesterday's event at Canoe Point was attended by about 80 children in Year 5-8 from nine schools across the region.

Reef Guardian Schools project officer Bonnie Boyce said the day focussed on "hands-on activities to protect the reef”.

"They're going to learn about reducing the sources of litter in their school grounds and also within their community,” Ms Boyce said.

"They're going to learn about zoning and what activities they're allowed to do within those zones and who can do that and they're also going to do some re-vegetation to conserve the dunes here.

"They really find interesting things like ... how plastic breaks up, it doesn't break down, it breaks up into micro-plastics.

"And they're sad by what they find on the beach.”

Ms Boyce said the program was aimed at moulding younger generations into environmentally responsible adults.

"They're our future leaders and if we can start young and start changing behaviours and the actions they take throughout life, then we're hoping they'll take that into the future,” she said.

Gladstone Region Councillor Desley O'Grady has attended the eco challenge on behalf of council for the past three years.

"Our conservation staff come along and do some re-veging with the kids and also teach them how to look after the beach and collect marine debris,” Cr O'Grady said.

She said larger conservation efforts in the region would not be possible without volunteers.

"Some of our people even go out to the islands and re-veg on the island on their holidays so it's just fantastic to see that,” Cr O'Grady said.

"They actually close Lady Musgrave Island for three months a year just so they can do a re-veg and an upgrade...”