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5 minutes with Stephen from ROSA

5 minutes with Stephen from ROSA

Would you agree that it feels like times have changed and children don’t spend the entire day outside anymore, exploring nature and the natural environment? Fortunately, this isn’t exactly true. With four Schools including seven outdoor campuses, the Residential Outdoor Schools Association (ROSA) is creating endless opportunities for children to explore and reap the rewards of the outdoors. ROSA’s vision sounds simple: “All state school students participate in quality, education-based residential outdoor programs” – and yet there is something very special in that: the curriculum delivers programs linked to the Victorian curriculum utilizing the outdoors as the classroom – mountains, sea, rivers, creeks, alpine environment, bushland! Let me ask you: When was the last time you enjoyed learning in the outdoors? 

In alignment with the goal to “protect what we have as residential outdoor education and shape the future of residential experiential education”, ROSA supports Greenfleet’s native revegetation projects by offsetting its carbon emissions. The organisation truly recognises its responsibility to ensure that future generations know and understand the importance of a healthy environment and the impact of our carbon footprint. 

We recently sat down with ROSA’s Principal Liaison Officer, Stephen McMurtrie, to learn more about the schools, values and programs. 

Can you tell me about ROSA and your values and mission?

ROSA is a network of four State Government schools delivering high quality and affordable outdoor programs to students across Victoria – from special needs, primary and secondary students. Our vision is that all state school students participate in quality, education-based residential outdoor programs. We aim to achieve this through:

• Advocacy
• Sharing of knowledge and resources
• Guiding policy and direction
• Research and impact

Can you tell us more about your connection with the environment and why it’s important?

There is now a substantial body of evidence which tends to demonstrate a positive association between learning which takes place in the natural environment and delivery of a diverse range of learning processes and outcomes. ROSA programs focus on reconnecting students with the environment through exposure to outdoor education and environmental sciences.

Has ROSA got any environmental goals that they’d like to achieve? If yes, how and by when?

ROSA delivers programs to approx. 15,000 students each year. Given that most programs are in the outdoors, one of our goals is to have a positive impact on all participants, so that they return to their home with a little more environmental knowledge and appreciation which may lead to small actions within their home community.

We are thrilled to be working with ROSA; can you tell me why ROSA chose to offset their emissions with Greenfleet?

For students to become more involved in the outdoors, we need to provide structured and evidence based programs through the Education System. This could be achieved by developing strategic partnerships with delivery agencies and organisations with congruent goals and targets.

An important component of a school’s curriculum is to teach students to respect and care for the environment. Our association with Greenfleet opens a conversation with students about effective strategies in reducing the carbon footprint.

Are there any other green initiatives that your organisation is working on? 

Each school delivers a variety of initiatives. Some of these include:

• Working with Sustainability Victoria to become 5-star sustainable schools – eg Bogong Campus and Somers Campus are 5 star schools
• “Pasture to Plate” programs Many of our campuses involve students in green gardens, animals and composting.
• photocopy/printer paper is 100% recycled.
• Sustainable school purchasing policy
• Tree planting days with visiting schools
• Solar hot water and heating systems
• Replacing fluorescent light fittings with 3w LED fittings

What would be your top tip to get people and children more involved in the outdoors and aware of the importance of protecting our planet?

Outdoor learning is a form of experiential education that focuses on guided, integrated learning in outdoor natural environments. It is intrinsically cross-curricular, in that it utilizes a natural environment to impart personal and social knowledge, physical skills, and subject-specific knowledge across the full curriculum.

Everyone at Greenfleet is excited about seeing a growing network of supporters that live and practice environmental commitment above and beyond ticking CSR boxes! Thank you to Stephen and the entire ROSA team for pursuing and achieving the wonderful vision of providing outdoor education for more than 15,000 students every year. This impactful work will have a long-lasting influence on each student. Thanks to supporters like ROSA, Greenfleet will be able to continue its work and have a long-term impact on Australia’s ecosystems. Our shared values and the goal to create a holistically sustainable future is what makes working together so powerful. We look forward to seeing the next generation of environmental leaders born from programs such as the ones offered by ROSA.