EQUIPPED with gloves and gardening tools, St Mary's Catholic College Gateshead students have channelled their enthusiasm for the environment on National School Tree Planting Day.
Around 200 students and 40 teachers planted around 300 native plants - provided by Lake Macquarie Landcare - on the creek bank that adjoins the school oval, as the latest installment in a project spanning 15 years.
Principal Larry Keating said when he arrived in 2004 there was a polluted waterway where the creek now runs.
Year 10 coordinator Maryanne Murray said the project was about "hands-on environmental education".
"It's your backyard, you can make a difference," she said.
"They're creating natural habitat, they're improving the water quality in that creek that runs along there... we also believe this is one of the real programs that is great for their mental health.
"Many kids don't have backyards today, they don't have this opportunity to get out and use tools, wheel wheelbarrows, we're upskilling them with all of that."