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Pakenham Gazette and Berwick Gazette; Star News Group

FOUR Beaconhills College students are heading overseas to promote their campaign to save Victoria’s endangered animal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum.

Emerald twins Ellie and Mollie Travica, Kallista’s Elly Robertson and Emma Falkenberg, of Berwick, were recently named grand champions in the 2009 Macquarie Bank Future Problem Solving competition.

They have now been invited to the US to compete on the international stage.

But Emma Falconberg couldn’t go, which led the girls to finding a new teammate. And now Berwick’s Luke McConnell is one of the girls.

Elly is thrilled to be flying the flag for the Leadbeater’s Possum in America.

She said that when the winners were announced, she was holding her breath the whole time. And she still can’t believe her luck.

As the finals were held in Queensland the girls went to Sea World to celebrate.

We all went down the slide in our school uniforms, she said.

This is not the first time the girls have proven themselves at the problem-solving competition.

Last year, they came third with their project called YES (Youth for East Timor Squad).

They raised more than $4000 and awareness of the plight of children living in war-torn parts of East Timor.

Elly said after coming so close to winning last year, the girls wanted to do even better this year.

We were more determined to do better this year, she said.

After the Black Saturday fires, their project became clear to save the Leadbeater’s Possum.

The fires destroyed more than half the endangered species habitat and fewer than 1000 of the animals remain.

Elly said it was vital to help rebuild the possums habitat.

The girls then joined together to from a new group called HELP (Helping the Endangered Leadbeater’s Possum).

In June, the Gazette, reported how the girls braved the weather conditions to take part in a tree-planting day at Yellingbo Reserve to boost the possums habitat.

They also sold wrist bands and called for donations to make boxes specifically designed for the animals.

HELP raised $11,500 for the cause, which meant more than 77 boxes could be made.

It now needs to raise more than $20,000 for the trip to America.

They will take centre stage with their possum project in June next year.

Anyone wanting to sponsor the group can log on to