The O'Farrell Government has delivered on another election commitment, with the first group of students from Western Sydney heading to Taronga Western Plains Zoo for an evening Zoo Safari.
NSW Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, farewelled 55 students from Glenmore Park High school this morning as they boarded their CountryLink train to Dubbo to take part in the specially-developed conservation education program 'Endanger Ranger.'
A total of 3300 year 8 students will take part in the program that will introduce them to life skills including leadership, group work, citizenship and sustainable practice as well as key areas of the education curriculum.
Endanger Ranger includes elements of both African and Aboriginal culture. Students will encounter everything from Australian reptiles through to African Rhinoceros and apes during their overnight visit.
"This is very exciting for the NSW Government as we're fulfilling a promise to people in Western Sydney that local students will get access to conservation education opportunities.
"This sort of education experience focussing on wildlife encounters will galvanise these students to take action for conservation and represents a great investment in the future of wildlife and the environment," Ms Parker said.
Taronga is providing 15 video cameras to help the students capture information, so each student who takes part can develop a short conservation-focused film or presentation that they will share with primary school students in their local area.
This mentoring model has been successfully pioneered by Taronga Education Department focussing on local student communities supporting the conservation of wildlife including, Little Penguins on the Northern Beaches, Regent Honeyeaters at Capertee in NSW and Chiltern in Northern Victoria, Booroolong Frogs around Tumbarumba and Platypus in the Orana region around Dubbo.
Sixty schools in Western Sydney will participate in the program with 40 schools having visited Taronga Western Plains Zoo by June 30 2012 and the remaining 20 by the end of 2012.
Taronga's education programs already reach over 150,000 students at both Zoos.