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From Little Things Big Things Grow

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Over 3 days in October, all 145 children from Singleton Heights Pre-School were invited to visit Glencore’s Ravensworth Open Cut ‘Hillcrest’ offset area to plant seedlings as part of a biodiversity project.

The Hillscrest offset area encompasses 1500 hectares and is one of four Ravensworth offset areas. All four are protected into perpetuity and the aim is to create more sustainable habitats for the species living in the area. The southern half of the Hillcrest area was once a farming property and careful work is being done to select appropriate vegetation to restore the area ecologically, such as the planting of the endangered species the Central Hunter Grey Box Ironbark Woodland.

Ravensworth Open Cut Environmental & Community Officer Kieran Stephenson-Banks explained how seeds are collected from site and then carefully selected and given to the preschool. Once they have grown into seedlings the children are then invited to Hillcrest to plant them, allowing them to learn firsthand about the plant life cycle.

“It’s a project we are really of proud of,” said Kieran. “Not only does it give us the opportunity to engage with the community, but it provides a positive experience for the children and helps their understanding of biodiversity and the environment.”

Neisha Dean is the Director of Singleton Heights Pre-School and said they were thankful to have such a meaningful and valuable partnership with Glencore which began in 2015 when Glencore first supplied a greenhouse, trays, soil and seeds to the school. Since then, Ravensworth Open Cut continues to supply soil and pots, and of course the all important seeds.

“With the help of their Educators, the children plant the seeds and water them daily. Once the seedlings reach a height of 10cm, they are then purchased by the mine for $1 each. The money raised from the project goes towards resources, in particular, for their outdoor environment,” said Neisha.

“This is our second visit to Hillcrest where the children were able to plant the seedlings they helped to grow, and we are very excited to be back. Through this hands-on experience the children are able to extend upon learning about the community, sustainability, and the environment, in a local and meaningful context,” said Neisha.

At the end of the planting session, we asked the children what they had learnt from the experience. Here’s our favourite answers.
1)       What is the project about? Planting seeds (Airley)
2)       How big will the trees grow? Until they touch the clouds (Emma)
3)       Why is it important to grow trees? For the animals (Miah)

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