Above Members of the Mornington Peninsula Intrepid Landcare Group at a working bee at Devilbend Reservoir in March 2022.
It is no secret that Landcare volunteers traditionally come from an older demographic of landowners and retirees. Involving more young people in Landcare is vital for many reasons, including the longevity of the Landcare movement.
Younger volunteers bring energy and enthusiasm as well as a high level of concern about the environment – and they want to be part of the solution.
The Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network (MPLN) recognises that involving young people in Landcare will help its member groups to achieve their environmental goals now and into the future and is committed to including them in its many projects.
Partnerships are critical
This has mainly been achieved through active partnerships with local youth groups, scouts and guides, and primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions. MPLN works with schools on biolink, planting days, weed control in reserves and State parks, and fauna monitoring programs. We make sure the activities are age and skill appropriate and that they complement the curriculum.
Exposing younger students to the natural environment can offer a sense of purpose and hope in the face of environmental challenge and crises. Witnessing the sheer delight of a child seeing a kangaroo in the bush for the very first time is wonderful.
Older students can make a real contribution to Landcare projects. In May this year, a group of year 8 students from Balcombe Grammar cleared more than 500 square metres of sallow wattle from Arthurs Seat State Park in just one hour.
According to Mark Fancett, President of the Sheepwash Creek Catchment Landcare Group, their interest was reflected in the many questions that were asked.
“It was great to see the enthusiasm of the students. With Landcare dominated by older participants it was pleasing to see the passion in the next generation,” Mark said.
MPLN also works with TAFE students to provide them with opportunities to develop real world skills that align with training outcomes while building networks to assist them in their goal of working in the environmental sector.
Certificates of participation recognise effort
It is important that young volunteers are valued and recognised for their efforts. MPLN issues each young participant with a certificate of participation, thanking them for their contribution to their local environment.
When working with young people it is essential that they are safe, and that the legal obligations of maintaining Child Safe Standards are met. As a bare minimum MPLN requires that all Landcare supervisors at youth events hold current Working with Children Checks and that photo consent has been obtained prior to any media releases.
Intrepid Landcare group fills a gap
In 2021, with a small amount of seed funding for insurance purposes and Landcare facilitator support, we formed a new Intrepid Landcare Group for people between 20 and 30 years of age from the Mornington Peninsula.
The group’s founder, Amy Henson, grew up on the peninsula.
“We spent countless summers hiking through national parks, surfing at our clean beaches, and mimicking the calls of our colourful bird life. We live in paradise, and we want to help protect that. Volunteers and community are the backbone of environmental protection, so we want to help support the next generation of environmental warriors,” Amy said.
Mornington Peninsula Intrepid Landcare Group has also launched a series of educational workshops in partnership with Parks Victoria. The Coolart Conversations series has helped increase community knowledge of environmental issues while simultaneously reconnecting people with nature.
The group is working on a funding application to support a next generation project to up skill its members through a series of practical bushland training sessions. If successful, the participants will work alongside an experienced bushland restoration specialist to learn plant identification, sensitive weed control techniques, and nest box ethics and monitoring.
Chantal Morton is Landcare Facilitator at MPLN. Her position is funded through the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Mornington Peninsula Intrepid Landcare Group go to www.mplandcare.org.au