Introducing some of our wonderful volunteers!

‘Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time; they just have the heart’ (Elizabeth Andrew).

What is the true value of  volunteering? It can be measured in time or money, but it is much more than that. Volunteers build, strengthen and restore their communities and their environments. We would like to introduce you to four of our amazingly dedicated, and highly skilled volunteers who have contributed in a big way to our organisation’s projects. These are just some of the volunteering stories at Nature Glenelg Trust.

Gordon Page

Gordon looking out at Mount Burr Swamp through the windows he installed

I started with NGT in 2014, sandbagging at Long Swamp – I thought it sounded like a good project.

I got involved with NGT because I like the environment, I like being out in the bush and helping other people out. The work NGT was doing was something different, a little bit of a challenge. Something that I’ve never done before.

I volunteer at a few other places besides NGT. I’ve been involved in Landcare since 1987 and started the Wattle Hill Creek Landcare group in 2005; I’ve also been involved in volunteer work on the Great South West Walk for 18 years now; I coordinate the coffee van for the Portland Bay Rotary Club and this year is my 30th year as a volunteer at the Finke Desert Races. Apart from all of this, I do a few odd jobs for pensioners around the area, mainly neighbours.

I was awarded Citizen of the Year at the Australia Day awards in Portland this year for my voluntary work.

The thing I enjoy most about volunteering with NGT is seeing natural things that were downgraded improved back to what they were, for example Long Swamp and Walker Swamp. I like just going out seeing the environmental things put back how they were originally.

I’m most proud of the work I’ve done at Long Swamp, Mount Burr Swamp and Walker Swamp. Working with steel – that’s something I don’t normally do. Carpentry is my forte, that’s what I like. I’ve done fencing and built a lot of stuff at NGT properties, including the toilets and ramp at Mount Burr Swamp.

I just help out where I can. There’s a lot more to be done – I haven’t finished here yet.

You can also listen to our Senior Ecologist Bryan Haywood’s interview with Gordon. Make sure to turn the volume up!

 

Sue Black 

Sue at a Kurrawonga Working Bee

I started volunteering with Nature Glenelg Trust a couple of years ago, heaving sand bags around a drain at Mount Burr Swamp. The swamp was close to our home at Glencoe where we’d planted lots of shelterbelts and enjoyed seeing the changes as the trees grew. We were running out of tree planting space, so it was great being able to transfer to planting at the swamp.

Now that we have moved into Mount Gambier, getting out into the bush is really important, especially combined with doing something useful. A benefit of town life is that I have more time for activities away from home. A small farm can be very time consuming.

I’m a regular at Kurrawonga working bees and open days. Having been friends with Bill and Kate Moore (previous Kurrawonga owners) for years, I enjoy having the opportunity to be at Kurrawonga and to help maintain the bush the Moores cherished. I find fighting the Coast Wattle rewarding – a good mix of solid work for an instant outcome. And I’m looking forward to more nest box installation. Yay for the sugar glider families!

I like the practical, hands-on approach of NGT. I like being outside messing about on a variety of tasks with a diverse team of people (and there has been some very good catering!). As I am an old(er) person, the other volunteers and NGT staff are great company, representing a range of ages, interests and skills. I am avoiding golf, bridge and garden club, the haunts of women of my vintage.

Outside of volunteering with NGT, I keep busy as a swimming instructor, member of Birdlife South East, Trees for Life tree grower, member of Millicent Field Naturalists, and I bake a decent chocolate cake.

John Hargreaves

John surveying along a local coastline

Hi. I’m John and I’ve been an NGT volunteer ever since NGT took over coordinating the Orange-bellied Parrot surveys for Birdlife Australia in south-west Victoria as part of the OBP Recovery Programme.

My main volunteer focus is maintaining a watch for OBPs (Neophema chrysogaster) from April to September, mostly by following up sighting reports and monitoring their close relative the Blue-winged Parrot (Neophema chrysostoma) through suitable habitat; saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal scrub. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, so I’ve built up some handy local knowledge. This season I’m due to help with habitat assessment and seed gathering.

I also keep busy with other volunteer commitments. All year round I monitor Hooded Plovers (Thinornis cucullatus) and manage nesting territories during the breeding season on beaches popular for recreational activities. I also survey for other shorebirds, waders and wetland birds when I get the chance.

I’m a Killarney Coastcare Inc. committee member and help plan and plant revegetation in the local dunes. I’ve written a guide to locating remnant native vegetation in the district, Nature Reserves of Warrnambool and District, a revised edition of which was recently published. I’m active in my local Rosebrook Community Garden, where I sit on the committee and do a little tutoring in organic vegetable gardening.

My work background is embarrassingly varied, but some particularly useful skills were picked up conducting archaeological fieldwork, working in adolescent health research, photography and writing.

All I care about now is working with and for native creatures on the coast and in swamps. I’m gathering data for scientific analysis and doing everything I can to understand and preserve our precious natural heritage, to help redress the terrible havoc my species is wreaking on our shared environment. Volunteering with NGT provides me with a means and opportunity to realise my prime directive.

Kimberley Height

Kimberley in the Namibian desert

I started volunteering with Nature Glenelg Trust in January 2019 after returning to Mount Gambier in 2018 – I’d just finished over a year of working in Sweden and travelling in Europe. I was interested in volunteering with NGT because I was looking for something productive to do with my time while I am job searching and NGT seemed perfect! I have a background in a range of environmental fields, including environmental science, botany, geography, climate change, energy efficiency and waste management, and NGT has been a great place to increase my skills in volunteer management and community engagement, and get more experience in natural resource management issues.

Apart from helping the environment and volunteering at NGT, I have a lot of other interests and activities that keep me busy. Travel is one of my greatest passions – I’ve lived and studied or worked in Sweden, Czech Republic, Malawi and Tanzania, I speak Swedish and some Swahili, and have travelled to 35 countries. I also volunteer at the Migrant Resource Centre, where I get to practice my not-so-great Swahili with some of our Congolese refugees.

As the Volunteer Coordinator at NGT, I mainly work to establish a system to manage volunteers, communicate with volunteers, promote our volunteer activities and identify opportunities for volunteer involvement. There’s so many great conservation activities that volunteers can get involved with at NGT, but getting everything in place for this to happen has been a lot of work! I’m looking forward to seeing how the volunteer program grows – I’m especially looking forward to our National Volunteer Week events at the end of May!

I’ve loved volunteering with Nature Glenelg Trust. It gives me something useful to do with my time, it helps out NGT, I get to spend time with all the great people who work here, it’s given me new contacts and opportunities, and I’m learning a lot of new things.

I’d encourage anyone who has a bit of spare time and an interest in volunteering to help the environment to get in contact with (me!) to see what they can get involved in.

Kimberley Height
Kimberley Height
volunteer@natureglenelg.org.au