On the 9th of September, Lachie Farrington and I were fortunate to attend the Portland and District Environmental Workshop, as part of the ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ program.
A key aim of the program is to inspire future environmental leaders, and it was great to meet so many attentive and eager young students.
Lachie ran two small workshops based around the Freshwater Burrowing Crayfish (Engaeus spp.) of our local area, and the students learnt about what they are, where they are found, and why they are important in our local environments.
The students were able to recreate their learnings through physical sculptures, getting busy with some playdough to build some crayfish, their burrows, and their distinctive above-ground mud chimneys. The students were prompted to think about the important features of burrowing crays, such as their chelae (prominent front claws), why they choose to live in damp soils and why they might be threatened.
A really impressive fact I learnt about these small crustaceans is the importance of their role in the aeration and subsequent trapping of carbon within our soils. In a time where we face some serious issues with changing climates and rising carbon emissions, perhaps we should be looking closer at these discreet activities going on below our soil’s surface!
A big thanks to Ann Dickson and the St John’s Lutheran Primary School for inviting us on the day.