Biodiversity Day is a blooming success in St. Nathy’s

On Thursday 16th May the Green schools committee hosted a ‚ÄúBiodiversity Action Day‚ÄĚ as the final step in achieving our @antaisce @GreenSchoolsIre green flag. The event began with a panel discussion, expertly led by Caroline O’ Doherty, Environmental Correspondent for The Irish Independent @codohertynews.¬† The audience comprising of the green schools committee, student council, Leaving Certificate Applied class and senior Geography classes were treated to a lively discussion and debate on all things biodiversity by our invited guests representing a myriad of environmental organisations from around the country.¬† In the afternoon students engaged in a range of interactive workshops with our expert facilitators.

There was a hive of activity in the polytunnel as Anita Mc Nicholas, horticulturalist with our local @homelandretailstores34 expertly guided First Years to plant a variety of pollinator friendly flower seeds, such as nasturtiums and zinnias, in handmade pots created from recycled newspapers.

Kiri Spanowicz of @fifty_shades_greener, delivered an online biodiversity workshop entitled ‚ÄúTropical Coral Reef Biodiversity of Stuff that mostly doesn‚Äôt move‚ÄĚ to Fifth Year Biology in the school science lab. Students were surprised to learn that you don‚Äôt have to travel to Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef as we have our very own here deep in the waters off the coast of Ireland!

√Čanna Hyland and St. Nathy’s alumni Noreen Shryane of LAWPRO @WatersProgramme, investigated the biodiversity of our local river Lung with Second Year Geography students.¬† This workshop was so popular we repeated it for our Senior Agricultural Science class in the afternoon.¬†

Meanwhile Michael Bell of @naturelearn, arrived with an eclipse of moths and demonstrated to a Senior Cycle Physics class how to record biodiversity with @BioDataCentre.  He also came armed with a selection of skulls and skeletons found on walks around the west coast which excited the nature enthusiasts among us.

In the library artist @nollaigmolloy of @Creative_placesballaghaderreen, explored the local hedgerows through the medium of clay.  Parents and students from the EROC Centre were invited to explore the local hedgerows through this hands-on workshop by choosing a selection of leaves and flowers (gathered from local hedgerows) and imprinting them on a clay tile. Language was no barrier in this thoroughly inspiring workshop.

We were also lucky to have Dr. Anna King of @Contemplative_art_4health, working with @Creative_placesballaghaderreen, delivering a thought-provoking workshop with Third year Art students entitled ‚ÄúCultivating hope and compassion during an environmental crisis‚ÄĚ.

Anna explored why hope is a crucial motivator for co-creating change in the face of an environmental crisis. She highlighted that there is an urgent need to address young people‚Äôs loss of hope, and explored the difference between sustainable and non-sustainable emotions, as well as the demotivating effects of eco-anxiety. Anna highlighted that contemplative practices need to be urgently implemented into school programmes to help alleviate eco-anxiety (and stress), and demonstrated the profound link between art and health through a reading of Emily Dickinson‚Äôs poem ‚ÄúHope‚ÄĚ is the thing with feathers. For more details on Anna‚Äôs workshop, see: https://www.annaking.ie/workshops/stnathyscollege

Outside on the playing pitches, Ivana Connor of @leavenotraceireland, oversaw Transition Year students compete to see who knew how quickly (or slowly?) waste decomposes in nature. There was plenty of lively debating about how long it takes an apple core to decompose!! (longer than you think!)

Rob Nelson from @LEAFIreland and @GreenSchoolsIre, investigated the local woodland surrounding the school identifying native species like hawthorn, willow and Scots Pine. LCA students were full of questions about the hedgerow and Rob with his fountain of knowledge had all the answers!

Our very own gardening enthusiast Bill√≠ Mc Ghee delivered an engaging workshop entitled ‚ÄėGardening for Nature‚Äô to his 1st year classes in the afternoon imparting his vast array of knowledge on wildflower gardening.

Throughout the day members of our green schools committee liaised with Ms. Reidy to run a competition where students vied for the title of the quickest person to sort waste into the correct categories.

The green schools committee wish to thank Management, teachers, students, canteen staff and our invited guests who came together to make our action day such a success. We also wish to thank local organisations @BallaghaderreenTidyTowns, councilors Sajjad Hussain and @ClrLiamCallaghan and Jonathan Jones from @roscommoncoco for attending the event. We are grateful to Dr. Anna King and Nollaig Molloy from Creative Places Ballaghaderreen for helping us to capture the day in pictures and documenting it so eloquently on their blog.  (https://www.instagram.com/p/C7Tz0ajMbzW/?igsh=ZjJ0dDI3Z2dtYmRk) Credit also to Caroline O’Doherty for her comprehensive report on our biodiversity action day in a full one page spread in the Irish Independent on Wednesday 22nd May. (independent.ie/irish-news/hope-is-more-sustainable-than-anger-lessons-from-a-green-school-marking-national-biodiversity-week)

It‚Äôs heartwarming to see such enthusiasm and commitment showed by all who attended the event and contributed in some way to ensuring we continue to drive the message of caring for our environment in these unprecedented times of climate change and to ensure it’s at the forefront of our conversations for generations to come.

Karen Munnelly (Green schools Co-Ordinator)

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