Student refugees get up close to Australian wildlife

The Wildlife Programs’ SA Koala Program Manager Robyn Molsher recently spent the day teaching refugee and newly-arrived students from the Adelaide Secondary School of English all about wild koalas. 

SA Koala Program Manager Robyn Molsher shows a student how to use binoculars to view koalas

Robyn worked with science teacher Steven Tiley to co-design their ‘Wild Koalas’ subject, which they developed with the aim of giving students a better understanding of how the Australian community views the environment and the uniqueness of Australian wildlife. 

‘We discussed the human health benefits of contact with nature and took the students to Belair National Park where we looked for koalas and other wildlife,’ Robyn said. ‘We also measured our mood state at the start and end of the field trip.’

The students, who were aged 12-16 years old, enjoyed the field trip and shared comments like, ‘I like this...I like being outdoors’ and ‘I love watching koalas eating’.

Some said they didn’t believe the videos that they had seen of koalas were real, so it was great to see them in real life.

‘It was a very rewarding experience, albeit challenging at times with many of the students not used to being in a school environment,’ Robyn said. 

‘I realised how much cultural differences can influence how we value the environment and it highlighted the need for us to help foster environmental stewardship in different cultural groups.’ 

Robyn’s engagement with the students was facilitated by Beacon Foundation’s Collaborative Classrooms Program. The program connects industry partners with marginalised schools in Adelaide and seeks to share knowledge, build capacity and bring curriculum to life while highlighting the diversity of career paths. 

Robyn and Adelaide Secondary School of English Science Teacher Steven Tiley with students at Belair National Park
Robyn delivering a lesson at the Adelaide Secondary School of English