Our need to value and protect our natural environment has long been taught at St Peter’s College. In fact, in 2018 Biology is one of the most popular studies for Saints boys, especially in Year 11. The School’s Biology courses ,from Years 7 to 12, are the foundation for not only Environmental Studies at University but also for Medicine and Health Studies.
Saints’ high priority for valuing the natural environment was brought to the fore in mid June this year when an important seminar, convened by Nature Foundation SA, was held in the Big School Room and then adjourned to the School’s Biology Laboratory. The Convenor was Dr Baden Teague, an old scholar, who is the leader of NFSA’s ambassador-group.
The Headmaster, Mr Tim Browning, welcomed the Seminar with his own apt remarks about our own era being named the Anthroprocene, the human-caused epoch. Every child needs to be aware of this epoch and to learn how to make decisions throughout their lives which reduce adverse human impacts on the environment.
When introducing this Seminar Dr Teague noted that back in 1981 when NFSA begun, three of the four Founders were Saints old scholars (Dr Mark Bonnin, Mr Warren Bonython and Mr David Cleland) and the fourth (Dr Barbara Hardy who remains today an NFSA Patron) was married to Saints Old Scholar, Mr Tom Hardy, the wine maker from McLaren Vale.
From its beginnings 37 years ago NFSA, an environmental charity, has grown to own about twenty SA land holdings regarded as crucial for a variety of biosphere clusters in which plants and animals had previously been endangered. The two biggest landholdings are Witchelina near Maree and Hiltaba in the Gawler Ranges. The other landholdings also are vital for the sustaining of birds, lizards, frogs and other SA wildlife.
The Seminar on 14 June 2018 was addressed by Professor Chris Daniels, the professor of biology at the University of SA. In April this year the SA Minister for the Environment appointed Prof Daniels to be the Director of Cleland Wildlife Park, one of the most famous of its kind anywhere in Australia. Cleland Wildlife Park is set in the forested foothills just under Mount Lofty. Prof Daniels’ address described the Adelaide region (of which Cleland is the epicentre) as one of Australia’s 14 ‘hotspots’ for distinctive plant and animal life. This Adelaide region is surrounded by the sea plus deserts which isolate this special region from WA, from the East Coast and from northern Australia. Accordingly it is imperative that we know, come to value, and hence come to preserve and learn from our unique Adelaide environment.
The Seminar’s second speaker was James Smith, a postgraduate student of Prof Daniels’ who last year published the first comprehensive handbook for all the thousands of animal varieties that live in our Adelaide region and, in fact, in our own backyards. A copy of this book Wildlife Adelaide was donated by NFSA to the Saints Senior Library to mark this occasion. Readers will find it easy to use in identifying all the animals about us that swim, fly, jump or crawl. Most of them are insects, beetles, worms, ants, spiders; some are molluscs, fish or frogs; others are reptiles or birds; and the largest (including some rare ones) are mammals.
The Seminar’s final speakers (in the Biology Laboratory) were Saints schoolmasters, Mr Karl Grice and Mr Chris Smyth, who admirably outlined the Years 7 to 12 Biology curriculum at Saints, including both the IB and SACE senior subjects.
The visitors were all very impressed at the process of learning through high-level team projects and at the “University–level” details involved in our Years 11 and 12 study of biology. The visitors were also very approving that St Peter’s College has in place its own sophisticated “Environment Policy” and that Saints boys are much encouraged to place a high value on the natural environment.
Dr Baden Teague, BA, BSc, PhD
Old scholar and NFSA Ambassador