15 Aug 2019
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Waste not, want not

Waste is being turned into dollars as Mercedes College Junior School students learn how to think like entrepreneurs.

“We realised we had a problem with the amount of organic waste the Junior school was producing with our healthy fruit breaks,” student Beatrix says.

“We investigated ways we could reduce this and decided to put this organic waste into worm farms and make worm juice, which is an environmentally friendly garden fertiliser we are selling to the community.”

This process prevents up to 7kg of food waste being thrown away every day. The “worm juice”, which has the same qualities as commercially-sold liquid seaweed fertiliser, is being sold in recycled glass jars for $2.

The project is an example of how Entrepreneurial Education promotes motivation, fulfilment and enjoyment of learning. A key to its success is that the program is largely driven by students. They get support and advice from teachers Melissa Buske and Tracey Cramond, along with education support officers Anne Watson and Nadia Berezansky. Mercedes College is one of eight Catholic schools putting this type of education into action. Students work in teams alongside their teachers trying to provide solutions to problems that exist around them in their local community. At the same time, they are looking to add value to society through dealing with these problems.

The result is they are discovering how to think and learn like an entrepreneur, constructing their own social enterprises on topics they are passionate about.

“We established a group called the Green Gurus to make worm juice,” student Eleanor says. “We have also planted vegetables in our kitchen garden that we have sold to the community. Some of the vegetables we have sold are bok choy, spinach, cherry tomatoes and herbs like coriander.”

As money from sales came rolling in, the students had to decide what to do with it.

“The money we are raising is being used to sustain the business and 51 per cent of the profits are being donated to the Australian Conservation Fund,” student Grace says.

The program at Mercedes College is expanding. “We plan on running workshops for the community to teach them how to make their own worm farms,” student Molly says.

These far-ranging projects are a long way from traditional education that concentrates on teaching students a set of knowledge that adults think they need to know.

Now it’s more about guiding young people to understand themselves as learners, to not only develop knowledge, but to be inquirers who create new knowledge. A large part of this revolves around acquiring the ability to become innovative and entrepreneurial, part of an important set of creative life skills today’s students are formulating at an early age.

Entrepreneurial Education strategies help make this generation of students able to develop the entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and attitudes relevant to the evolving global economy. In this case, the Mercedes College Junior School students have incorporated waste management and sustainability into their business plan.

They have big plans to grow their project. “We have met with experts to help us think of other ideas that we might be able to include in our garden design and also what other ways we could use to promote the idea of living sustainably,” student Imali says.


Source: 2019/20 South Australian Catholic Schools, Advertiser Feature (Fourth Edition)
Words: Hamish Cooper
Photography: Russell Millard

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