How local plants cope with dry seasons was the focus of Yaapeet Primary School’s 2018 National Science Week - a community, guided bush walk of the Yaapeet Bush Reserve, trebled the number of ‘learners’ at the small school to 25, ranging from pre-schoolers to octogenarians.
Guest speaker/guide, Rod Newnham, a past YPS parent and Wyperfeld Park Ranger, now based near Geelong, inspired locals and visitors from Cannum and Alice Springs.
In 1988, Mr Newnham led YPS children on a similar walk and collected plant specimens as a record.
These were found at the school in May and inspired this year’s walk to look for changes, and was funded by National Science Week with a grant from the federal government’s Inspiring Australia and the Royal Society of Australia.
Mr Newnham shared his knowledge of the local bush with the YPS children in the morning and the community in the afternoon, with all enjoying a barbecue lunch thanks to the YPS parents.
“Today we will look at what plants do to save moisture in dry times. Tread lightly and look for little things, surprising things, ” Mr Newnham told the group at the start.
During the walk, the YPS children each spoke about one of the plants they had studeid that morning.
In comparing 1988’s walk, Mr Newnham said 30 years ago the weather had been wet with more plant diversity and more in flower.
He said rabbits, drier years, competition from Bridal Creeper and a lack of fire would have contributed to the changes seen.