Handy kids make homes for possums

Letitia BusniakMidwest Times
Teacher Chris Atkinson de Garis, Jethro Clarke, 9, Lila Bowlder, 9, Adele Atkinson de Garis, 8, and Fauna for the Future founder Darren Darch hold possum boxes students made in class.
Camera IconTeacher Chris Atkinson de Garis, Jethro Clarke, 9, Lila Bowlder, 9, Adele Atkinson de Garis, 8, and Fauna for the Future founder Darren Darch hold possum boxes students made in class.

A handful of local possums will soon be moving into new homes thanks to the design and technology skills of students at Leaning Tree Community School.

Students spent last term building possum boxes to gift to Fauna for the Future founder Darren Darch, who plans to place the finished products in the trees around the Chapman River Reserve.

Mr Darch said the school had been in contact to source ideas on how to help native wildlife.

“The students had been learning about native animals and how they build their own shelters to survive — it got them wondering if there was anything they could do to help our native critters,” he said.

“I suggested possum boxes because there is an issue of feral bees taking over the nesting hollows the possums would naturally inhabit, leaving them vulnerable and with no place to hide in the daylight.

“If they’re not used by the possums, then they could be used by one of our many bird species.

“Either way, I spoke to the kids about the importance of their project and they designed and constructed the possum boxes to be put up in the nature reserves where they’re most needed.”

Mr Darch will monitor the boxes to ensure they’re not also taken over by feral bees.

The project is expected to provide future educational opportunities for the students, with teacher Chris Atkinson de Garis hoping to eventually take the students on an excursion to see the installed possum boxes.

“Mr Darch is also hoping to install cameras in to the boxes and then eventually send the students footage of the possums,” he said.

“Once it’s all settled I hope to be able to take the students out to see their finished product.”

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