Queensland students repel pest invaders in national science competition

Queensland school students have shown a knack for tackling invasive pest species winning a host of major awards in a national science competition.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said more than 130 students from 13 Queensland schools were presented with awards today at the 2019 Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Hermitage Research Facility Schools Plant Science Competition’s Awards Day and Agricultural Science Expo at Warwick.

“This year’s competition theme, ‘Pest Invaders’, focused on introduced and invasive pest species and their impact on our native environment and agricultural production,” Mr Furner said.

“This competition attracted significant national interest with more than 3600 students, from years prep to 12, representing 145 schools from across Australia submitting 255 high-quality science and art entries.

“Queensland school students have performed outstandingly well to shine in this year’s competition.

“All winners deserve congratulations particularly, Senior Science Award winner Kate McGilvrary from Toowoomba’s Centenary Heights State School, Junior Science Achievement Award winner Michelle Springolo from Toowoomba’s Groves Christian college of Distance Education and Outstanding Achievement Award winners Yasmine and Liam Brockurst from Brisbane’s St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School.”

Mr Furner said the entries reflected the great interest amongst schools to learn about introduced and invasive pests.

“Invasive plants and animals have significant economic, environmental and social impacts on Queenslanders, particularly those who work in our agriculture sector,” Mr Furner said.

“The high quality of the entries reflects the students’ understanding of the effects invasive pests can have on Australian agriculture and the threat they pose to global food security.    

“That understanding was also evidenced by the hand-drawn posters young artists designed for the competition’s Art in AgRiculTure section to educate their peers on how to help stop the spread of invasive pests.”

Mr Furner said the Hermitage Research Facility Schools Plant Science Competition promoted rewarding and exciting careers in science and agriculture.

“The quality of entries in this year’s competition is a positive sign that the future of science and agriculture is in good hands,” Mr Furner said.

“Competitions such as this can inspire young people to pursue a career with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries which works closely with local governments, communities and other stakeholders to minimise the impacts of invasive pest species.

“I commend all who participated in the competition and those who supported it, including major sponsors the Plant Biosecurity Science Foundation, QuestaGame, the Grains Research and Development Corporation and associate sponsor the University of Queensland.”

The following Queensland schools won major science and art prizes:

  • Centenary Heights State High School
  • Glasshouse Christian College
  • Kilcoy State High School
  • Nambour Christian College
  • Groves Christian College of Distance Education
  • Faith Christian School of Distance Education
  • Trinity Bay State High School
  • St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
  • White Homeschool
  • St Stephen’s Catholic Primary School
  • Biddeston State School
  • Pilton State School
  • Cecil Plains State School
  • Freestone State School
  • Kurwongbah State School
  • Maryvale State School
  • Edge Hill State School
  • Monogorilby State School
  • Chancellor State College
  • Clifton State High School
  • Wallis Homeschool
  • Gilhooly Homeschool
  • Young Homeschool

Details of all winners can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website, daf.qld.gov.au/hermitage-competition , or by calling 13 25 23.


Media contact:           Ron Goodman             0427 781 920

Photos for download: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/p549bmvuqiidv6e/AABw9FoCGYEXDMZYAN0lhtL4a?dl=0

Suggested captions for photos. Please credit Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

190807_HRF SPSC_01 – Groves Christian College of Distance Education Year 9 student Michelle Springolo’s award winning Invasive Pest artwork

190807_HRF SPSC_02 – St Stephen’s Catholic Primary School Year 4 student Katelyn Moore prize winning cane toad busting artwork

190807_HRF SPSC_03 – A selection of artwork entries in the 2019 ‘Pest Invaders’ competition

190807_HRF SPSC_04 – A Pilton State School student takes a closer look at pest insects under a microscope

190807_HRF SPSC_05 – Junior Science Achievement Award Winner, Groves Christian College of Distance Education Year 9 student Michelle Springolo, gets up close and personal with a Cactoblastis grub