Caroline Gilmore, the Richmond Down Under marketing intern, writes:
On the North Queensland program our guides led us through different habitats and ecosystems, teaching us about the land they knew so much about. Their stories about the outback, Daintree Rainforest, and Great Barrier Reef were engaging and kept us informed as we made our way around the region.
Our classes used experiential learning, allowing us to travel the land and see first-hand the flora and fauna we were learning about. Working with the Center for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) we heard about the importance of the cassowary and the ways in which they are essential to protecting the rainforest and coastal ecosystems. Many people don’t know that cassowaries carry the seeds of trees and distribute them throughout the rainforest. If this did not happen many tree species would go extinct.
After our lecture on our way to a hike, we saw a cassowary, an independent and solitary bird, walking down a main highway completely unprotected from the passing cars. It was after this sighting that we were all able to better understand the challenges that we inflict on our natural ecosystems.
In a normal classroom setting, it is hard to make these real life connections, for instance I still don’t know how linear algebra relates to my day-to-day life. But seeing the cassowaries made me understand some of the challenges in modern day Australia and made me want to make a difference, and that is something you don’t often get in a classroom.