The primary students stepped close and placed their hands on the timeworn Ngargee Tree. A reverent and focused hush fell. (If you have ever corralled two dozen 12-year-olds, you understand the degree of miracle.) ‘The bark swirls like Starry Night,’ one boy whispered.
Our award-winning teachers + our ‘classrooms’ = genuine magic. The EcoCentre's signature School Programs use local landscapes as laboratory and learning space. The 500-year-old Ngargee Tree is one of our more sacred sensory spaces, tended by volunteers and honouring heritage of Boon Wurrung gatherings there.
December brings a contemporary tradition of gatherings, some reflective and some not unlike a herd of 12-year-olds on excursion. Especially if your season is tricky, cultivate a moment with a tree of a non-Christmas stripe. Your senses – and something a bit more ancient - will reward you. 

Our Schools & Education team has had an exciting year, working with over 4,000 students to foster connections to nature through the head, hands and heart. New programs were developed with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) focus, along with a suite of marine-based programs.

Congratulations to the Education team for a stellar year: Karen, Belinda, Sharron, Deb, Reiko, Matt, Ben, Ella, Peter, Malcolm, Kate, Gio & Captain Trash.

Read our blog post highlighting the Education team's achievements: School Excursions: Showcasing our outdoor classroom activities.

Since July, we've been working with the EPA and Monash University on the Drain Detectives program. Students from Kilbreda College, Cheltenham Secondary College and Venturers have worked to collect and analyse water quality data in drainage pits across Bayside.

The students' analysis found that Mentone readings were healthy, but found interesting trends in other suburbs.

Thank you to Karen Jones for leading the EcoCentre's involvement with the Drain Detectives program, and to all participating students. Read Kilbreda College's report here.
Our four inaugural Multicultural Bay Ambassadors have joined the EcoCentre for the summer! We're excited to welcome Elissa Howard, Ranjith Venkatesan, Yashoda Pathak and Katy Yixue Li to the EcoCentre team.

They will be developing an event designed to allow different cultural groups to engage with positive environmental action towards our Bay, and helping the EcoCentre deliver more inclusive programs. We're thrilled to have you on board!

Multicultural Bay Ambassadors is funded by the Port Phillip Bay Fund. 

Our Alive Outside program is proof that learning can happen in an active, outdoor classroom. Designed for youth between the ages of 12 and 25 who live, work, and play in the City of Port Phillip, these free sessions engage young people in the natural world - and they come out learning a thing or two as well!

Registrations are now open:

• Pamper the Penguins: 4th Jan | 24th Jan
• Snorkelling: 10th Jan | 21st Jan
• Pre-historic St Kilda: 16th Jan
Alive Outside is provided in partnership with City of Port Phillip.

Cool & compelling

EcoCentre Holiday Closure
The EcoCentre will be fully closed from Saturday 22nd Dec, and will reopen on Monday 7th Jan. During this time, our compost bays will also be closed to the public.

We hope you have a great holiday season with your loved ones - remember to celebrate sustainably!
We're looking for volunteers over the summer to help with watering our garden. If you can help over the hot months ahead, fill in our expression of interest form - we'll be in touch!

Mark your diary

• Fri 7 Dec 5-8pm - EcoCentre summer celebration, at the EcoCentre. The annual gathering for all EcoCentre supporters, including members, volunteers, affiliates and staff. RSVP here.
• Sun 9 Dec 10am-1pm - Pedal to Produce Nunawading Farmers Market, hosted by MBTC. Leaving from Blackburn Station, followed by lunch at Jells Park. Registrations essential.
• Sun 9 Dec 2-5pm - St Kilda Repair Cafe, at the EcoCentre. Don't toss it - let our volunteer fixers make it as good as new. FREE.
• Fri 14 Dec 9:45am - 4pm - Partnerships and partnership-based grant writing workshop, hosted by EcoCentre founder Neil Blake and Executive Officer April Seymore, open for all community environment groups. FREE. Places limited, registrations essential.
• Fri 4 Jan 10am-12pm - Alive Outside: Pamper the Penguins. Exclusive opportunity to help the St Kilda penguins, open to all youth aged 12-25 who live, work, or play in the City of Port Phillip. FREE. Register here.
• Thurs 10 Jan 10am-12:30pm - Alive Outside: Snorkelling experience. Discover what creatures we have in our own backyard! Suitable for beginners, open to all youth aged 12-25 who live, work, or play in the City of Port Phillip. FREE. Register here.
• Sun 20 Jan 2-6pm - St Kilda Eco Fest. Free event hosted by City of Port Phillip and the EcoCentre, featuring live music, food, stalls, and workshops to allow you to be more sustainable.
• Fri 29 Mar 8:30am - Steps to Sustainability Conference. Save the date - this conference will showcase how teachers are using sustainability to support the Victorian Curriculum and how schools are implementing the ResourceSmart Schools program and United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Presenter registrations are now open
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