Students from both Eden Marine High School and Eden Public have enjoyed recent excursions swapping the classroom for a river cruise – complete with oyster tasting.
The tours were facilitated by the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre and funded by the Foundation For Rural and Regional Renewal.
While Eden Public School pupils explored the “Secret Life of Oysters”, their high school marine studies and food tech counterparts took part in the “Grow Your Own Oyster” initiative.
Oyster expert and guide for the outings was Brett Weingarth from Captain Sponges Magical Oyster Tours, Mr Weingarth also farms one of the Pambula River oyster leases.
Eden Marine High’s journey took the students up the Pambula River, into the main part of the lake where oyster farming is most concentrated, then down to where the river meets the sea.
Along the way Mr Weingarth showed the students the many Aboriginal middens on the lake shore, which were fascinating to the kids; it demonstrated oyster appreciation going back thousands of years.
[Students] enjoyed being able to dissect an oyster and learn more about what they are and how they work
Janet Borley, SCMDC
Stacey Muscat, an Indigenous teacher from EMHS was also on board and spoke to students about local Indigenous history and the invaluable role that mangroves play in our lake and river systems.
Marine studies teacher Jane Hornsby said the school welcomed collaborative partnerships with community organisations such as SCMDC and the Department of Primary Industries.
“Ultimately this leads to stronger community partnerships and a wider range of learning opportunities to engage our students.”
For the primary school pupils, the program – which was supported by Sapphire Coast Wilderness Oysters – gave them insight into the workings of a local aquaculture industry including cultivation methods, the entire farming process from oyster spat to market and the importance of monitoring and maintaining good water quality. As well as trip with Captain Sponge, the program also consisted of classroom activities learning about oyster biology.
Eden PS assistant principal Suzanne Lee said the pupils thoroughly enjoyed their Magical Oyster Tour.
“Not only did they learn about the life cycle of the oyster, the value of the industry in our region and the importance of keeping our waterways clean, but also the Indigenous history of the lake, rivers and surrounds. It was a very educational and fun day!”
Janet Borley from the SCMDC said the aim of both projects was to entice young locals to explore a new career path. “With this in mind, I am hoping that interested students will consider taking up a school-based aquaculture traineeship in the future.”