This year the Reception-Year One students at Parndana Campus, Kangaroo Island, will be known as the ‘Bandicoot Class’. Friends of Parks KI Western Districts have won a scholarship for the class to help with research into this elusive small marsupial.

New friends: Reception-Year One Bandicoot Class at KICE Parndana with members of Friends of Parks KI Western Districts. Photo: Supplied.

New friends: Reception-Year One Bandicoot Class at KICE Parndana with members of Friends of Parks KI Western Districts. Photo: Supplied.

This year the Reception-Year One students at Parndana will be known as the ‘Bandicoot Class’.

Friends of Parks KI Western Districts have won a scholarship for the class to help with research into this elusive small marsupial.

The location and habits of the threatened southern brown bandicoot on KI have long been of interest to the Friends of Parks members who for some years have been undertaking hair-tube and remote motion-sensor camera surveys in Flinders Chase National Park with the support of staff from Natural Resources KI.

Now this beautiful creature is attracting interest from a younger audience.

The ‘Tom Hands Inaugural Educational Scholarship for 2017’ was sponsored by Friends of Parks Inc. for regional schools to partner with a local Friends of Parks group in a project with educational and conservation aims. Friends of Parks is a South Australian umbrella organisation of over 100 volunteer groups dedicated to enhancing the conservation values and visitor experiences in our parks and reserves.

The scholarship is dedicated to the memory of two Friends of Parks members who contributed 50 years of service to the organisation.

Friends of Parks KI Western Districts members attended a recent school assembly hosted by the delightful Year Ones where it was proudly announced by one student, with only a slight exaggeration, that they had been granted, “2,500 million dollars”.

The grant will enable the school to purchase a motion sensor camera (or possibly one million cameras?) to complement the four already operated by the Friends group and others by Natural Resources KI.

As well as learning how to operate the camera and download the data onto a computer, the ‘Bandicoot Class’ will learn about bandicoots and other small KI mammals, produce art works and create a video diary as part of their report on the project.

The student activities fit in with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) learning focus in the school curriculum.

Dr Robyn Molsher from Natural Resources KI will work with the students teaching them about the sorts of environments where bandicoots live, the threats facing them such as feral cats, how to set up and operate the camera and what they can do to help bandicoots survive and thrive on KI.

Friends of Parks members will mentor them in being good citizen scientists, providing valuable and reliable environmental data to the professional scientists, while Flinders Chase park staff will host them on a school excursion into the park.

It promises to be an exciting and productive year for all Bandicoots!

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