Pint sized environmentalists

A new early childhood program in Queensland is giving children a chance to make a difference in local conservation, helping to empower a generation and make real change for the future. Journalist Fiona Stutz looks at the educational benefits of teaching kindergarten aged children about the environment.

Tangalooma EcoMarines is a Brisbane based not for profit organisation that takes local action to clean up the waterways and to protect and preserve marine life and wildlife through a range of activities and initiatives. This conservation movement to save the marine life of Moreton Bay also helps communities fight pollution and learn about changes they can make in their everyday lives.

However, environmental preservation and action is not just restricted to adults. The organisation has developed the Tangalooma EcoMarines Early Childhood Program to help younger people become pint sized environmental superheroes.

The new program can be run in any early childhood centre or facilities, such as kindergartens and day care centres, and is free to join and participate.

Starting young

Tangalooma EcoMarines Director Penny Limbach said the number one aim of the early childhood program was to educate younger children on the importance of looking after our local marine wildlife.

“It is so important to educate children from a young age. If they are encouraged to learn about our local environment and learn how to protect it, it will make a difference in years to come. And after all, they are the future custodians of this land,” Penny said.

She said she was concerned that environment conservation did not factor into people’s lives as much as it used to.

“I think that somehow it’s skipped a generation, caring about litter, and I guess science is really proving how marine debris is having an effect on our wildlife.

“It is easy to make small changes that can have a big difference. Everyone can make a few small changes in their lives, which will result in a better environmental footprint.”

Reflecting on sustainability

The National Quality Standard (NQS) encourages educators to reflect on sustainability and what it means in an early childhood setting. Standard 3.3 of the NQS invites services to take an active role in promoting sustainable practices in the immediate service environment and beyond, as well as fostering children’s respect and care for the environment.

The Standard also aims to support children to develop positive attitudes and values by engaging in learning experiences that link people, plants, animals and the environment and by watching adults around them model sustainable practices.

I think that somehow it’s skipped a generation, caring about litter, and I guess science is really proving how marine debris is having an effect on our wildlife.

Spreading the word

Tangalooma EcoMarines has already developed a successful primary school program before deciding to turn its attention to early childhood.

“We want to encourage our early childhood centres to spread the word about the program to include parents.”

When a centre signs up to the program, they receive all resources and support they need to help them educate the children about marine conservation in a fun and engaging way to involve them in protecting waterways and wildlife.

Already 151 early learning centres have signed up for the program, to begin this year.

“The program is a free online kit and includes environmental challenges for the centres to do. Challenges include wrapper free Wednesday, recycling activities and more.”

Currently the program includes:

  • a certificate template for educators to fill in for kids to become a Tangalooma EcoMarine
  • a video message from Tangalooma EcoMarine Ambassadors Tangalooma Eco Ranger and the Dolphin mascot
  • games and colouring in activities, and
  • recycling activities.

The early childhood program also aims to educate about the local area and how Moreton Bay is home to approximately 600 dolphins, 700 dugongs, 2000 loggerhead turtles, more than 10,000 green sea turtles and many other marine wildlife.

Early learning centres that want to introduce the program can visit for more information.

The Tangalooma Education Resource Library is available for free online for teachers and students at

For additional information on Standard 3.3 of the NQS, refer to the Guide to the National Quality Standard available from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority website