In the 1980’s, there were five junior field naturalist clubs operating in South Australia. They functioned individually and had limited contact with each other. The Bellevue Heights club originally started as an off-shoot of the Belair club (with which Prof Mike Tyler and others were involved) when this group became too large. However, over time, each of the groups closed down.Rona Sakko, a parent whose children attended the Bellevue Heights Primary School at the time, held discussions with other parents in an effort to gauge interest in the formation of a nature club for children. With encouragement from a committed group of parents, she gathered together a small steering group to look at the feasibility of re-establishing the Bellevue Heights club. The group made arrangements with the local Bellevue Heights Primary School to hold meetings in the school hall, and the school has continued to offer the use of their premises free of charge. After embarking on a publicity campaign, the first meeting of the reformed group was held in September 1983 – and we were inundated with over 80 children and 30 parents. Hans Mincham was the first guest speaker and his topic was “Insects”.
To this day our club has continued its success. Our hundreds of speakers over the years have included Prof David Paton, Daryl Kraehenbuehl, John Ling, Terry Reardon, Russell Baudinette, John Hunwick, Hal Crouch, Adam Lockett, Mark Hutchinson, Andy Austin, Roger Seymour … the list goes forever on. Typical field trips have been to Punyelroo Caves at Swan Reach, Minton Farm Native Animal and Bird Refuge, Hallett Cove geology, marine biology, bird walks, conservation parks, mangroves and so much more. Our club was one of the first groups to tour what at the time was called the Zoo Agistment Area, later to be named Monarto Zoo. We also had a memorable tour of Warrawong Sanctuary with founder John Wamsley.
Our club has been sponsoring a Murray Tortoise at the Adelaide Zoo almost since the inception of our club. The Field Naturalists Society of SA has been very supportive, particularly when 5 junior clubs were active. They produced a regular magazine for the junior clubs called “Megalomania” and introduced ERIC (Environment Rests in Education) the Echidna as the juniors’ mascot.
Our club celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009 with a special field trip at Belair National Park plus the donation of an outdoor bench seat (with an engraved plaque) to the Bellevue Heights Primary School. We were also delighted to be presented with a microscope by the Field Naturalists Society.
In 2009 our Club became incorporated as the Bellevue Heights Junior Field Naturalists Club Inc.
As now we were the only Junior Field Naturalist club in the state 2010 saw the name change to Junior Field Naturalists SA Inc.
Our first Fungi Foray with the Adelaide Fungal Studies group happened in 2011, and it was a huge success. We also announced the appointment of our Patron, Prof Chris Daniels.