Marshmead: Walking the talk through a 30 year vision of sustainability. Learning in the Outdoors – beyond 2020, Program Design on Sustainability

Mr Tim Shovelton1, Mrs Marion Martin1, Mr Tom Davis1
1Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne and Mallacoota, Australia


In 1989 MLC, Marshmead was sought, bought and built with the vision of sustainability underpinning its existence. Over the past 30 years the commitment to the vision of the Marshmead program has seen the program become more relevant and authentic in its existence. The core of the Marshmead program focuses on sustainable persons, sustainable communities and sustainable environments. During their eight weeks stay, students immerse themselves into the active curriculum putting this theory into practice, building their knowledge, skills and understanding to enact change and challenge lifestyle behaviours when they depart Marshmead and return home.

We would like to share our journey from the educational to the operational as well as the potential of the program and offer practical guidance and examples as to how the topic of sustainability could be developed and implemented into a range of educational settings.

• What do we consider sustainability to mean for our students?
• How and why do we connect students to place
• How do we create a meaningful, experiential curriculum that addresses the topics within sustainability and promotes change and action through student learning?
• How do we empower students to be positive environmental changemakers and not succumb to Climate Change anxiety?
• Why is Marshmead highly regarded by past, current and future students as well as families and staff?

Marion Martin has worked and taught in residential education for over 15 years, including Timbertop, Caulfield Grammar and the School for Student Leadership. She is currently Director of MLC Marshmead, a school focusing on Sustainability of self, community and environment. In this role she has responsibility for the staff team, the 70 Year 9 students that reside at Marshmead for eight weeks and the innovative, unique program. As well as being a mother of two beautiful daughters, she enjoys trail running, camping and skiing, and is currently learning to care for two bee hives.

Tom Davis has been working and adventuring in the outdoor industry for many years. He has been guiding students on sea kayak journeys since 2009, was an instructor with the Victorian Sea Kayak Club and is an Australian Canoeing Sea Kayak Instructor. He was a freelance Outdoor Educator for 8 years, working with many Victorian Secondary Schools. Tom is also a NOLS Instructor and has led month-long sea kayak and hiking courses in the south Island of New Zealand and the Kimberley in Western Australia. Tom holds a Batchelor of Arts Degree, a Graduate Diploma of Outdoor and Environmental Studies and a Masters of Applied Learning and Teaching. Before coming to MLC he was Program Coordinator at UC Camping on the Mornington Peninsula. He is currently a homegroup teacher and Expedition Coordinator at MLC Marshmead. Among his favourite personal adventures have been high altitude trekking in Ladakh in North India, the Annapurna and Khumbu regions of Nepal, and a sea kayak crossing of Bass Strait in 2012.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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