In this edition of ‘What Inspires Me’ we feature Maria Farriciello, Sustainability Lead at Featherbrook College.
Featherbrook College is one of 15 new Victorian Schools built with private sector partners across some of the State’s fastest growing metropolitan and regional communities. CERES is a sustainability partner in this project and is working with each school on the ResourceSmart Schools program over a 5-year project.
The school opened in 2017 and has achieved their Core and 1Star certification and are well on their way to achieving their Waste and 2Star certification.
1. How did you first get started with environmental education?
I first became involved in environmental education when I joined Featherbrook College in 2017. I have always been passionate about environmental issues such as global warming and pollution. As my own children have grown up and learnt about waste management and sustainability through their own education it dawned on me that environmental issues closer to home were things I could have a more immediate impact on and as a leader of the sustainability team at Featherbrook I am enjoying the opportunity of teaching children about the importance of keeping our environment clean.
2. What have been the biggest highlights of your journey so far?
I have enjoyed watching the students become more passionate about caring for our environment. It has been wonderful to see students taking pride in the cleanliness of our school grounds. The most amazing experience I have had so far has been taking a large group of students over to the local wetlands where we collected a vast amount of rubbish. As we were leaving the grounds we spotted a majestic pelican sitting on a log looking over the water and one of my students said, “This is why we do this, so these birds have a clean home!” I thought it was a poignant moment.
Students cleaning up local wetlands on Clean Up Australia day and the pelican seen on the day
3. How do you engage with people that are not buying into the sustainability message?
I have come to the conclusion that sustainability is an issue some people love to hate, however, it is the next generation we must get the message across to. I have learnt throughout my journey that children have a true desire to do something good and doing something good for the environment is very achievable for all. It only takes a small amount of effort to make a big difference. At Featherbrook we pride ourselves on ensuring we have a clean environment, and in fact, it is one of the cleanest schools I have worked in. I will continue to engage with my colleagues and the students of Featherbrook to do our part for the environment by making sure we keep ours looking great.
4. Can you share a school sustainability project or story that you’ve heard about that stood out for you?
I admire all schools that promote Nude Food Lunchboxes. Nude Food reduces landfill (plastic snap lock bags, chip packets), saves trees (brown paper bags), saves money and promotes healthy eating. We are a school that has only been established since 2017 and we are trying to establish a school wide Nude Food movement not just one day a week but moving towards every day. This is a project that involves community support and we are working towards encouraging parents and carers to accept the challenge through school reminders and school assembly presentations. The students going home and asking for Nude Food is the result we are looking for.
Students working with Wyndham City Council to clean up wetlands in Point Cook.
5. What is your favourite environmental education resource for schools?
I have been so appreciative of the local council and the team members that have assisted me in my sustainability journey. Our College students have been able to take part in amazing projects like Love Your Locals, Clean Up Australia Day and National Tree Planting Day just to name a few. My sustainability colleagues over the past 18 months have greatly supported me and I thank them for their help and guidance over the journey. The Victorian Curriculum Sustainability link has also been a great resource I have used to assist me in coming up with ideas on all things environmental.
6. If you could be a sustainability superhero, what name would you choose and what powers would you have to make the world more sustainable into the future?
I would be the Nude Food Ninja! I would have the power to ensure all lunchboxes contained only nude food and all school grounds were rubbish free!! I truly believe that Nude Food Lunchboxes at all schools would improve the state of our local environments enormously. Such a huge impact and benefit for the environment for little effort and little cost.
Thank you Maria for sharing your story.
Learn more about Featherbrook College by visiting their website.