Passing on the inspiration

Inspired by his attendance at the IEU’s Educating for Sustainability Conference in 2011, IEU North Coast Branch President Richard Ryan has transformed the green footprint of his school, St Francis Xavier Primary School, Ballina.

Since coming to the conference and being inspired by Costa the gardener and other presenters, Richard, who teaches Indonesian and PE, has introduced solar panels to the school, a veggie patch which is used by the canteen and for classroom activities and joined the Eco Schools program with a view to making his playground waste free.

He will present a workshop at the IEU’s forthcoming Environment Conference on 16 October in Sydney, Looking 2 Our Future.

“I’m just going to present a simple guide to the steps any school can take to become more sustainable,” Richard said.

“I’ll tell our story and talk about the mistakes we’ve made and are still making, so others can learn from that.”

Richard previously presented about his school’s transformation at a Lismore TeachMeet hosted by the IEU.

“I came to the conference originally because I was passionate about the environment. Schools can waste a lot of energy, water and paper so it became a personal mission of mine to make a difference.

‘I’m glad to be able to pass that on to others.”

Richard said his passion for the environment intersects with his passion for social justice and the union movement.

“I think caring for the environment means caring about social justice as well,” he said.

Looking 2 Our Future will focus on practical strategies for schools and early childhood centres in educating for sustainability in the context of escalating international debate and action on climate change,

The keynote speaker Dr Mark Diesendorf will talk bout transitioning Australia’s energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Professor Neil Ormerod will discuss the Papal Environment Encyclical and social justice and its impact on international climate policy, and surfer Tim Silverwood will talk about his personal decision to clean up plastics from his favourite surfing beaches and how that led to a path of scientific exploration and activism.

There will be a number of accompanying workshops, including Richard’s.