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Unearthing our volunteer gems

Published 21 Dec 2015 

Volunteers mending a fence.Volunteers from right across the country make Bush Heritage Australia’s work possible. Photos Beatrice Bentley and Leanne Hales.

There’s no doubt that Bush Heritage volunteers are some of the best in the business. They roll up their sleeves to  pull weeds. They battle aching muscles  and clammy heat to plant seedlings.  And they spend hours pouring over documents to help with our research.

So it made perfect sense to tap into their knowledge and expertise with the establishment of our very first Volunteer Advisory Committee.

Led by National Volunteer Coordinator Michelle Stook, the idea was to create pathways for deepening volunteer engagement that aligns with our strategic goals and helps to create further awareness about Bush Heritage in the community.

Siam weed hunters at Yourka Station. Photo Leanne Hales.Siam weed hunters at Yourka Station. Photo Leanne Hales.

“The calibre of people who volunteer for Bush Heritage is unlike anything  I’ve ever seen,” Michelle says. “They’re highly skilled, tremendously enthusiastic, and so passionate about what we do.”

“These people have such an enormous amount of skill that I wanted a way to formalise the knowledge and  guidance that is continually offered to me. By providing the opportunity  for volunteers to formally provide input into the volunteer program, and assist in the development of volunteer-related policies and procedures, we’re better supporting them and our staff.”

The aim, Michelle says, is simple.

“It’s about expansion. We have a really defined set of strategic goals to engage, inspire and empower more people to support and become involved in our conservation work. The more volunteers and volunteer opportunities we can develop and implement throughout the organisation, the better it is for  meeting our strategic goals.”

Volunteers planting trees at Scotsdale Reserve, NSW.Volunteers planting trees at Scotsdale Reserve, NSW.

Expressions of interest are now open to Bush Heritage volunteers across Australia. During November applications will be assessed and four people will be chosen  to join the committee. Members will be asked to commit for two years, with meetings every two months.

Bush Heritage has around 600 volunteers – a figure that Michelle is keen on growing over the coming years.

Volunteers are our best advocates. They are filled with so much passion and pride with all they do.

“Volunteers are our best advocates. They are filled with so much passion and pride with all they do. We want to highlight that our volunteers play a central and crucial role in delivering on our conservation goals and that their skills and experience are a mandatory part of developing our successful program further.”