The Craigieburn Environmental Centre

The Craigieburn Environmental Centre (located in the Craigieburn Forest Park) approached Ara to conduct some research into how teachers were using the centre and what benefits they were gaining. Kim Johnston took on the challenge of working with the environmental center noting that "my motivation for this research was not only driven by the Centre's inquisitiveness, but also from my personal interest as a BSOE student and my intention to become an OE teacher. I saw this as a great opportunity to understand more about the structure and practice of OE and how to integrate a stronger environmental focus into my own work."

Kim interviewed teachers who use the center as well as members of the Craigieburn Environmental Trust. A key finding was that all teachers wanted to include more environmental education in order to develop a deeper understanding of sustainability issues. As schools became more familiar with the area their attachment to it grew and they began to see it as their 'backyard'. Many of the regular users had also introduced action-orientated environmental projects, like pulling pines and possum trapping, which Kim identified as "an excellent way to encourage students to take an interest in the environment and open up opportunities to discuss some of the more pressing global issues we're facing on a social and economic level". However, the teachers also commented that limited time, logistics, and current assessment standards made it difficult to implement some of their ideas to integrate an environmental focus into their programmes.

As a partnership it was successful, Kim made contacts in the OE sector and has had some offers of work. Meanwhile, the Craigieburn Environmental Trust gained a deeper understanding about what was happening on a range of their programmes and can hopefully help schools and teachers build a stronger sense of place and environmental connection to the area, by encouraging more project work.