This week’s podcast was with Penny and Kylie from Tangalooma EcoMarines. Penny and Kylie have boundless enthusiasm for Moreton Bay, and their vision for a local community motivated to celebrate and protect Moreton Bay is being adopted by young people all across Southeast Queensland.
Listen to the episode:
EcoMarines has seen huge growth in the last five years, and there are many reasons I could suggest for that – the energy and willingness of the kids who get involved is the first and most important!
Equally effective though, is the combination of experience and knowledge that EcoMarines hopes to provide for the Ambassadors:
- Evidence-based information. Increasing “environmental literacy” in kids can spark long-term environmentally-aware behaviour.
- Positive experiences of nature. Children who participate in nature-based experiences are more likely to be environmental stewards as adults.
- Action- and efficacy-based. No matter how strongly we feel about an issue, if we feel that nothing we do will make a difference, we’ll do nothing! “Action-competence” education programs work because they teach children to imagine a desired outcome, reason out how it can be achieved, develop a plan of action, and implement the plan. Knowing that each steps toward the vision are meaningful gives young people confidence and motivation.
- Changing social norms (expectations) for these young people, related to how they interact with Moreton Bay. The relationship between social norms and how we act is a complex one, but very generally, we are more likely to act in a certain way if we know others act that way. Kylie and Penny’s aim to make it “cool to care” could be seen as a desire to evolve social norms – a long-term and ambitious goal, but one that really gets to the heart of building a sense of environmental stewardship in our Moreton Bay community.
There’s something else that EcoMarines is doing, and I think its super important. EcoMarines is contributing to young Southeast Queenslanders’ sense-of-place. Sense of place is a kind of vague term but there’s a substantial amount of research (and quite a lot of planning dollars) tied up in it. It’s a term that attempts to capture the way people feel connected to, and strengthened by, the place we live and the people around us. Holding a strong, positive sense of place has been connected to increased belonging and well-being, and it’s fostered when people have familiarity with, understanding of, and engagement with, other people in an area.
A sense of place can’t be attained in a lecture or by reading a book or pamphlet. Those things help, but a sense of place really comes from an accumulation of experiences and knowledge that occurs over time, because it is informed by our relationships. What Penny and Kylie are doing through EcoMarines is building positive, place-based experience into these young people’s lives. They become invested in Moreton Bay because they are having positive experiences of both their own power and their relationships with others here, in this place.