Sustaining River Life is a management, sustainability and environmental education package. The goal is to assist students of any age in developing awareness, knowledge, skills and commitment to result in informed decisions, responsible behaviour and constructive action concerning waterways and the environment.

The guide is based on the premise that students and their educators have a vital interest in learning about river health. The primary audience is educators of kindergarten through to high school students. This does not limit the usefulness of Sustaining River Life to formal educational settings however. Volunteers work with young people in pre-school and after-school programs; representatives of private, conservation, industry and community groups providing programs for young people; and personnel involved in preparation for becoming future teachers, are all among those who can use the instructional resources of this program.

Sustaining River Life came about through collaboration between three Murray-Darling Basin river reach projects: the Namoi and Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach projects and the Macquarie RiverSmart initiative involving RiverSmart Australia and the Central West Catchment Management Authority. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority, through its Native Fish Strategy then supported the initiative to make it Basin-wide.

A conceptual outline was developed with input from educators and natural resource managers. Learning activities in a variety of subject and skill areas were written by classroom teachers and tested extensively by educators before being edited and assembled into final form.

Sustaining River Life is not a course of study. It aimed at developing a collection of good learning activities that can be used in both outdoor and classroom settings and tie into various content areas.

Sustaining River Life is concerned first and foremost with providing information as well as helping students evaluate choices and make responsible decisions. In short, Sustaining River Life is aimed at students learning how to think rather than what to think.

We would like to thank the dedicated and committed teachers, biologists, interested citizens, school administrators and other ecological enthusiasts who volunteered hours of time and effort to make Sustaining River Life possible.

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This curriculum and activity guide was prepared by Tanya Rucosky Noakes from ACT Waterwatch with input from a number of people, and most notably Luke Johnston. Dr Bill Phillips was the project leader, compiler and editor.