I have known Trish and Wally Franklin for a number of years in my capacity of Teacher in charge of the Kingscliff High Enviro Club. The Club is quite strong, with an active membership of several hundred students and community members. Over the past few years we have fenced 2 kms of dune area on the beach in front of Kingscliff, restored 9 hectares of littoral rainforest adjacent to the school, developed a rainforest walking track, urged Mrs. Ros Kelly into initiating the national Waterwise program and introduced the idea of building a solar powered classroom in all new schools in Australia to the present minister for the Environment, Sen. John Faulkner.
During this time the Enviro Club has been actively involved in whale watching and giving support to whale conservation groups. Members of the Club monitored Humpback numbers with Paul Hodda and the Australian Whale Conservation Society at Byron Bay in July, wrote a protest submission with over 300 signatures to the Prime Minister of Japan during the last IWC Conference, spent a number of days tracking 'Willy', the Brydes Whale in the Manning River at Taree with Trevor Long on 'Seaworld 1', and took part in whale conservation protests at Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise. But, our most important work was done in collaboration with Trish and Wally Franklin and 'The Oceania Project'.
Groups of students have taken part in The Oceania Project by joining Trish and Wally on 'Our Svanen' in Hervey Bay during the last two whalewatching seasons. For six days at sea the students studied Humpback Whale behaviour. They gained experience in navigation, water quality testing, collection of Chlorophyll samples for the University of Queensland, recorded whale songs with a hydrophone and helped with the day to day running of the ship. In the words of Nicky Hatfield, Year 8:
"We witnessed and experienced the living rhythms of the sea, the joy of dolphins and whales in harmony with nature, and at the same time learned about these magnificent creatures and their environment. It was the experience of a lifetime".
The experience of a lifetime. Trish and Wally present an educational program that enthuses students to want to learn for themselves. Each individual who has been mentally touched by the lessons from The Oceania Project has returned to school with more self assurance and a greater thirst for knowledge. The type of character building education that matures and prepares them for life.
One of our members. Sheridan Parker-Orr represented our Enviro Club and Australia at the United Nations Global Youth Forum in Boulder, Colorado in 1993. At that conference the youth of the world wrote a declaration that ended with these words:
"The energy of youth is the only truly renewable resource. We are using this power and will not be limited by a lack of recognition. However, we do not want you to stand aside and watch our progress - rather join us and put our greatest resource to full use.
There is no divisions between generations in The Oceania Project. Whether in idle chat or collecting scientific data...everthing is done in partnership. Trish and Wally both have the 'charm' that allows them to gain instant rapport as educators. They are natural teachers.
I commend the work of Trish and Wally Franklin to you; and on behalf of all of the students in our Enviro Club who have had the opportunity to take part in The Oceania Project youth Program I recommend that the reader join a future project and experience the thrill and wonder with these wonderful creatures.