Ngukurr School part of prize-winning science team

The Ngukurr Wi Stadi bla Kantri (We Study the Country) Research Team has collected the 2017 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science, conferred by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The winning team — led by ecologist Dr Emilie Ens and Ngandi Elder Cherry Wulumirr Daniels — also comprises Yugul Mangi Rangers and Yangbala Mob (Working Together Rangers Young People’s Group) who partner Ngukurr School and Macquarie University.

The project focused on Ngukurr, in south-eastern Arnhem Land, developing greater knowledge of the area and identifying ways local people can improve its management.

The nine-year investigation uncovered a new species of mammal and populations of threatened species, preserved culturally important wetlands, and used eight local languages to record plants and animals.

Ngukurr School principal Lynda Pascoe said the partnership between the research team and the school began this year, and 25 students from years 9 to 12 joined the investigation.

“The students are excited about the project because it’s about the land of which they are custodians,” she said. “Conducting this research is the best way for children to learn about sustaining plants, animals and the environment.

“The students involved are studying Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management, and in this ongoing program they are being educated about environmental protection by Yugul Mangi Rangers, and each of the seven clan groups to which they belong.

“Our students have learned how to map statistics relating to plants and animals, and even add their information to a global species database.

“Dr Ens has encouraged three of our students to go to Macquarie University, where one is training to be a teacher, and the other two are studying science.

“Remarkably, Cherry Wulumirr Daniels began this project many years ago with just a wheelbarrow and a chainsaw.”

The award was presented at the Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday 30 August.

Ngukurr School