Using totemic species to engage students with Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge and biodiversity conservation

Date: 22, Oct, 2021
Author(s): Natasha Ward   Sarah Bekessy   Georgia Garrard  
Publisher: TSR Hub

This project developed and trialled the Totemic Species in Schools program at a pilot primary school in Melbourne, Victoria. The program engages young students with Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledges and biodiversity conservation by incorporating Indigenous sciences into the Western school curriculum. Students at Carlton North Primary School worked with Wurundjeri Traditional Owners to learn about and create habitats for the matted flax-lily, which is Endangered in Victoria. Through surveys of students, teachers and parents we found that knowledge of, connection to, and care for threatened species were effectively imparted through the program, along with knowledge about Traditional Owners. The program was shown to improve student engagement with nature and science, and this permeated through to parents and guardians, which is beneficial for improving biodiversity conservation engagement.