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Horticulture students cultivate feast for koalas at Fleay's Wildlife Park

Motivated by a shared commitment to environmental advocacy and conservation, horticulture students from the Ashmore campus established a food plantation for resident koalas at Fleay’s Wildlife Park on the Gold Coast.

Armed with enthusiasm, gardening tools, and expert guidance, around 80 small trees of various Eucalypt species were planted in challenging terrain on the side of a hill, creating a sustainable future food source for the beloved marsupials.

Led by their teacher, Kim Hodgkisson, the class spent a day digging, preparing holes, planting trees, mulching, and ensuring proper watering -  all integral steps for the success of the plantation.

“The project not only offered practical experience but also enabled the students to contribute meaningfully to the local ecosystem while bringing joy to the resident koalas,” said Kim.

“As a teacher it is important to deliver a holistic learning experience and provide students with real world scenarios so that they feel confident and valued throughout their education journey with us.”

Kim said when she told the students about the project they were all eager to do a worthwhile project that benefited local wildlife and the environment.

Chloe Weekes, a Certificate III in Horticulture (AHC30722 | 114313B) student, said she was excited to apply her knowledge to a meaningful cause knowing her efforts would ensure a steady future food source for the koalas.

“I love that I’ll be able to come back in a few years’ time and see the trees we proudly planted knowing they are being put to good use as a sustainable food source for the Koalas,” said Chloe.

“Our teacher, Kim, armed us with all the skills we’d need to complete the project, and it’s one of the standout things I’ll remember about my time studying horticulture at TAFE Queensland," she said.

Meanwhile, Chloe highlighted the importance of being able to go off-campus to do a job for a real client.

“It was a great way to put into practice everything that we had learned so far in our course. Projects like these are invaluable for students. You can study and read as much as you can, but without hands-on experience, you can’t gauge how you’ll go in the real world,” said Chloe.

"I’m proud of the job we did as a team and as a class. We’re all really the ‘get in and get it done’ kind, and we pride ourselves on doing great work."

TAFE Queensland Gold Coast General Manager, Karen Dickinson, said the organisation is dedicated to fostering a learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, empowering students to make meaningful contributions to society.

"We believe in going beyond conventional learning and actively engaging in projects that contribute positively to the community," said Ms Dickinson.

"The collaboration between our horticulture students and Fleay’s Wildlife Park exemplifies our commitment to an exceptional student experience, embedding sustainability into our students everyday lives, and being socially responsible."