Amid the suburb’s new developments lies a green ‘island in the city of Thurgoona’, now recognised as the second most environmentally friendly college on the planet.
TAFE NSW National Environment Centre took out the prestigious silver award at a World Federation and Colleges and Polytechnics Awards of Excellence.
For head teacher Rob Fenton, having their 190-hectare patch of sustainability recognised on a global stage was amazing.
“It’s nice to be recognised,” he said.
“And it’s nice to be among that company as well.”
Judges for the award looked at the type of courses run, how campuses were managed and the environmental outcomes of the campus as well as its impact on the surrounding environment.
Mr Fenton said 30 years ago the ‘hidden gem’ Thurgoona campus had been designed with the native habitat in mind.
“When we develop the farm we also work with Parklands Albury Wodonga very closely and so the farm is sort of the centre of a network of creeklines and environmental lands that radiate through the area of Thurgoona, it’s all linked together,” he said.
“When we first started here there were 23 species of birds, we do a monthly bird survey as a biodiversity indicator, there’s now 87 and a number of endangered species.”
Mr Fenton said the campus worked on the principle of organics and sustainability, hoping to lead by example.
“There’s a whole lot of reasons it’s important the campus is green, but probably the most important one is it’s recognised around the world now that the way to get real change in the environment, to get real sustainable activity is to actually demonstrate through what you’re doing,” he said.
“You can make the biggest change by living your life and letting someone else see.
“It’s really important for us that we walk the walk because that enables us to demonstrate what can be done.”
As well as running courses covering organic farming, sustainability, permaculture, conservation and land management, the campus’ Green Gate Organic Farm produces lamb, free-range pork, chicken, eggs, olive oil, honey, vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, grain and even has its own flour mill.
The awards recognised the sustainable principles running throughout the campus which even has a system to compost human effluent into organic fertiliser.
Mr Fenton said the silver award was a credit to the visionaries who created the campus, the students and the people who run it everyday.
“This stuff doesn’t happen nine to five,” he said.
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