The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week is 'GIVE A LITTLE, CHANGE A LOT' but, to be honest, I’m finding it difficult to apply this theme to the Bush Heritage conservation community. Put simply, Bush Heritage Volunteers don’t just give a little, they give A LOT.
Last year our volunteers contributed close to 40,000 hours of their time to support our work across the country and across the breadth of our organisation. From digging pitfalls to data entry, volunteers are a significant, vital and valued part of Bush Heritage Australia.
The second aspect of the theme is much easier to relate. The changes brought about with the support of volunteers are irrefutable. Just ask Phil Palmer, manager of Scottsdale Reserve, about the impressive and ongoing transformation of the degraded grasslands and grassy woodlands that's taking place with the help of an army of volunteers dedicated to weed control, rabbit control, plant propagation and revegetation.
Or Paul Hales, up at Yourka, who has been leading volunteer surveys and treatment of siam weed (some call it “boot camp”) for the last six years to successfully reduce the infestation by over 90% in a priority area of the Upper Herbert Catchment.
But not all changes can be measured as easily as the number of trees planted or weeds removed. Volunteering also creates changes in people, those who are volunteering and those who are touched by their willingness and generosity. Volunteers returning from placements on our arid, western reserves often tell me that the experience changed their lives. The awesome vastness of the landscapes and the resilience of the people that live and work there inspires them and permanently shifts their outlook on life. The staff in these locations often tell me how moved they are to have some helping hands when the challenges of remote area living or environmental work can feel isolating and overwhelming.
The Bush Heritage volunteer program is a powerful tool for connecting like-minded people and the benefits often extend well beyond just getting a job done together.
This week on the Bushie Blog we’ll be featuring stories from volunteers and messages of thanks from staff all around the country.
Volunteers are an integral part of our work at Bush Heritage Australia and this week we’d especially like to say “Thank you volunteers” for all of those 'little' things you do that have made and continue to make positive and lasting changes to the landscapes that we manage, the type of organisation that we are and, in many cases, our lives as people, all connected by a love of the environment and a commitment to conservation.
Happy National Volunteer Week!