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Fighting our feral future with kids at the helm

Kids Conference partnership
Eleven schools from across Australia and New Zealand will virtually join the 18th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference (AVPC), to add their ideas to the vision of achieving a feral free future. Image by Marika Maxwell.

Eleven schools from across Australia and New Zealand will join the 18th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference (AVPC), to add their ideas to the vision of achieving a feral free future.

In a first of its kind, the students are presenting a dedicated session within the AVPC program, alongside scientists and other experts in landcare management, policymaking, and community engagement.

Convenor of the Kids’ Conference, Stephen Spain said that this initiative brings together creativity, innovation and diversity through a series of wonderful presentations from primary through to secondary school students.

“Each student has an opportunity through the Kids’ Conference event to bring their big ideas to a forum which shares their talents, technological insights to engage both their peer and teachers.

“Supported by their teachers and facilitators, the Kids Conference aims to bring forward student voices to inform policy and encourage student-led learning approaches to grow new ways of looking at many of our challenges.

“We have the mantra of ‘students teaching teachers’, and this is a great opportunity for researchers and teachers to not just convey science to young people but to actively engage in co-learning through facilitated approaches,” Mr Spain said.

Associate Professor Richard Price from the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions has championed the direct engagement of schools by ensuring this partnership with the Kids’ Conference team.

“With the future in mind, our conference seeks to engage next-generation researchers, young thought influencers and future leaders in different ways.

“The Kids’ Conference initiative is a great way to facilitate a direct collaboration between the different generations, and our feral futures conference theme wanted to ensure we actively include the next generation in our discussions.

“The Kids Conference partnership was the perfect conduit for doing this,” A/Prof Price said.

The Kids Conference partnership is proudly supported by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment through its Environmental Biosecurity Project Fund, with the two New Zealand Schools sponsored by Kiri-ganai Research.

Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer Dr Robyn Cleland said the Kids’ Conference offers students a unique opportunity to develop key skills in science communication and systemic thinking, as well as exposure to leading experts working in wildlife, biodiversity and ecological modelling.

“We are delighted to be able to support the ability for school aged students to present their projects to all conference delegates today.

“By becoming part of the larger conversation in science and global challenges and participating in the debate on the challenges in controlling feral animals in Australia today, I have no doubt that these students will one day lead on finding solutions to the challenges of the future,” Dr Cleland said.

More information about the Kids’ Conference initiative can be found at https://kidsconference.online/

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