Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Project Platypus is drawing to an end for 2011 with students coming together at the Zoo for an expo to share their knowledge and learnings with each other and the community. Over the past eight months approximately 450 students from 15 schools around the region have participated in Project Platypus, gaining an understanding about the habitat requirements for the species, threats to the Platypus and river health issues.“During the program the students have participated in field days, learning about water quality, habitat surveys, fishing responsibly as well as continuing to work on their project during school hours through curriculum based subjects,” said Kristy Robberts, Senior Education Officer.“The students have become advocates for the species helping to raise awareness in the community and change attitudes and behaviours towards the local environment,” said Kristy.“The Expo provides the students with the opportunity to share their knowledge and projects with other school students as well as the local community.”“Project Platypus has far exceeded our expectations with students of different ages all really engaging in the program and learning the importance of protecting the environment.”“It has been great to see the students enthusiasm, ideas and concepts to communicate their message to the community and the Expo provides them with the opportunity to share these ideas,” said Kristy.As part of Project Platypus the Dubbo Middle Years (MY) Inc encouraged 200 students from 8 Public Schools to demonstrate the learning available in the public school system in Dubbo and to assist students in their transition from primary to high school.“The project has been extremely beneficial for primary school students allowing them to work with high school mentors and assist them with their path to high school,” said Middle Years Project Manager, Danielle Sparrow.“The students have found Project Platypus to be a rewarding experience enjoying both the social and academic aspects of the program,” said Danielle. Project Platypus is a community conservation education project that aims to support Platypus populations that live in the NSW’s Western region. The project helps to raise awareness in the community and empowers students to become advocates for a local species by allowing them to become custodians of change in attitudes and behaviours of family and friends towards the local environment. This not only helps the Platypus, but promotes the protection of the entire Macquarie River system.Project Platypus is a Taronga Western Plains Zoo initiative in partnership with Central West Catchment Authority, River Smart, Department of Primary Industries, Dubbo City Council and Dubbo Bushcare Group.