Meet the Sunnyside Ocean Defenders!

Nature of Scotland Youth and Education Award Winners Sunnyside Primary shared some of their highlights of what they have been up to since the award ceremony last year.

Meet the Sunnyside Ocean Defenders!

We have all seen the younger generation doing exciting and inspiring work leading the charge for nature. Over the last couple of years, children have hit the headlines for all the right reasons. At the Sunnyside Primary School of Conservation, also known as the Sunnyside Ocean Defenders, pupils engage with nature by designing campaigns aimed at protecting our natural environment. Since implementing their new curriculum in 2014, they’ve made amazing progress with their drive to reduce the use of single-use plastic under their very catchy slogan of “Nae Straw At Aw”.

Sunnyside have an impressive list of achievements and we were pleased to announce that they were the winners of the Youth and Education category at the 2019 Nature Scotland Awards.

sunnyside defenders posing by a sign at the conference

Sunnyside Ocean Defenders alumni group presenting to the 2050 Climate Group in Edinburgh

We caught up with them to find out what they’ve been up to since winning and they’ve certainly been busy! Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • After the Sunnyside Ocean Defenders found schools across Scotland were throwing away around 36,000 plastic straws from the milk programs, they became involved in the development and trial of a new paper straw Muller and Tetra Pak were creating. Once the scheme is rolled out across Scotland, all milk cartons will come with a paper, recyclable straw. Next on the agenda is to work with Glasgow City Council to collect and recycle the cartons themselves. The defenders have also worked with Scotland’s biggest ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne, to remove plastic straws from their network. 

  • Using the campaign slogan #PolyGone the Sunnyside Ocean Defenders are asking Glasgow City Council to remove glitter and polystyrene cups from their sites. 

  • Learners are supporting nature conservation in a very direct way by continuing to assist the investigation into the disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier, Thistle, who was named by the school. Born in Sutherland, Thistle’s tag hasn’t transmitted any data since October 2019. 

  • Sunnyside Ocean Defenders have been asked to attend a number of events, including presenting to the eco-schools in Dundee, where they’d been asked to talk by the Council. Unfortunately this event, and others, have not been able to take place during the Covid-19 crisis, but they are sure to be popular at events in the future!

  • The school was honoured to be invited to take part in Seattle’s whale conservation and education conference, SuperPod. 

  • The Ocean Defenders won a Climate Coalition Green Heart Hero Award!

pupils digging

Sunnyside planting a hedge to encourage wildlife into their playground with TCV Hogwatch project

As with the rest of the UK, Sunnyside Primary School has had to adapt to the unprecedented circumstances we now find ourselves in due to COVID-19. The children are still being set conservation work to complete at home and where possible are still out in nature, giving our environment a helping hand. Just by scrolling through their Twitter feed (@SunnysidePri) to see what they’ve been up to lately is incredibly heartening. 

Reading about all the great things Sunnyside Primary School get up to leaves me thinking of an old Greek proverb "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in". We all have our part to play in protecting our nature and we have a huge amount we can learn from children and young people dedicating amazing efforts to the environment. I’m really excited to see what they can achieve over the coming months.

posing with pictures drawn of birds

You can help us celebrate nature heroes by nominating them for this year's Nature of Scotland Awards. Find out more here: