Bush Heritage at the Perth Science Festival

on 31 Aug 2016 

It's been a long wet winter here in Perth, but for two wonderful days the sun shone, encouraging more than 25,000 people to come celebrate science in the Perth Cultural Precinct. This was the 3rd Perth Science Festival and it was brilliant to be part of such an energetic and bustling event.

Bush Heritage had an interactive stall at the festival with a focus on getting youth interested and excited about conservation science. We promoted our Science Plan, the importance of ecology in effective conservation and land management, and we talked Stromatolites! It was brilliant and somewhat exhausting experience – it truly felt like we talked to every one of those 25,000 people!.

The Science Festival is aimed at youth and all stall holders have to have an interactive component. I set up a mini sandpad with some animal footprint moulds for kids to use. I used the sandpad as a way of talking about feral and native animals and why we want to know what animals occur on our reserves.

We also had a number of other 'tools' that ecologists use to find out what is living on reserves including a cage trap, an Elliott trap, a pitfall trap, a camera trap and an inspection camera. We helped the kids set the traps, talked about baits and what kind of animals we could catch in each trap.

Stromatolite expert Erica Suosaari (Bush Heritage Science Fellow) had some beautiful cross-sections of Stromatolites on display and some engaging posters to draw people in, plus she has the gift of the gab when it comes to science communication – she's a star!

We also had some great materials thanks to the Marketing team. Craig Allen has developed some sweet native fauna swap cards for children – these were a big hit and a great way to engage children in native animals, conservation and Bush Heritage.

It was an intense weekend, but I can truly say that both Erica and I were on a bit of a 'high' after having so many positive interactions with children and adults. A highlight for me was a little girl of about 8 years old who came back to see us throughout the day with different questions about Honey Possums. We would get out the field guide to mammals, look up the answer and off she would go, only to return an hour or so later with more intriguing questions. How seriously joyful to ignite an interest in wildlife and conservation in someone so young!