Landcarers shine at National Awards

Southampton Homestead’s Jeff Pow, winner of two National Landcare Awards.

September’s National Landcare Awards had many inspirational nominees in the nine awards categories. This year, Western Australia won an unprecedented five awards, and there was a double winner, with the Australian Government Innovation in Sustainable Farm Practices Award winner, Western Australia’s Southampton Homestead, also taking home the People’s Choice Award after receiving the most votes from the Australian public in the lead-up to the awards. Jeff Pow was overjoyed to accept both awards.

“It’s an affirmation that we’re on the right track. Regenerative farming is the next level. We’re rebooting degraded landscapes and producing food in the same breath. It’s an amazing way to restore the environment,” Jeff said. “I’m going to be handing this planet on, and I need to be able to say that I wasn’t happy with how things were being done and I drew a line in the sand I said that this is the way we should do it.”

Australian Government Individual Landcare Award winner Rhonda Williams.

Winner: Rhonda Williams, WA
Category: Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award

Rhonda and her husband Ross have managed a profitable and sustainable farming enterprise in Jerramungup, WA since 1976. Rhonda’s significant and positive influence on the community has led her to represent Landcare at a local and regional level across 12 Landcare based organisations and local government. “It means a lot to me to have won, and to the region that I come from,” Rhonda said. “To be able to contribute to the community is incredible. We have to look after our environment for our children and our grandchildren – while we’re on this earth, I believe it’s our responsibility.”

Australian Government Landcare Facilitator or Coordinator Award winner Jill Richardson.

Winner: Jill Richardson, WA
Category: Australian Government Landcare Facilitator or Coordinator Award

Jill Richardson has spent 25 years dedicated to furthering Landcare in Western Australia. Joining the Katanning Land Conservation District Committee since it’s foundation initially as a volunteer and then employee, Jill has led significant on-ground environmental works and behavioural change in sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation. Jill voluntarily lead a group to form the WA Landcare Network, achieving incorporated status in May 2014. Jill was thrilled and delighted to have won the National Landcare Award. “It’s huge! It’s recognition that community-based Landcare and people have a huge amount of value across Australia,” Jill said.

Australian Government Partnerships with Landcare Award winner Lake Macquarie Landcare with Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker.

Winner: Lake Macquarie Landcare, NSW

Category: Australian Government Partnerships with Landcare Award

Lake Macquarie Landcare is a community-based organisation, built on the successful working partnership between passionate, dedicated and hardworking local volunteers and the Lake Macquarie City Council. Formalised in 2012, Lake Macquarie Landcare has become the largest network of Landcare groups in New South Wales. Carmel Brown, chair of the Lake Macquarie Landcare Network, was delighted to have won.  “Landcare is based on volunteers, so to get recognised for volunteering is awesome. We only have one planet, and we care deeply,” she said. “It means so much to the Landcarers to have that back-up from council, to know there’s a team of experts there that can help us with the heavy stuff.”

Coastcare Award winner Coolum District Coast Care.

Winner: Coolum District Coast Care, QLD
Category: Coastcare Award

Since 2001, Coolum District Coast Care has consistently worked hard to galvanise public interest in caring for the coastal environment on the Maroochy North Shore of the Sunshine Coast and beyond. The group has evolved into a highly respected organisation that is still largely comprised of and run by volunteers, with a vast annual calendar of productive and creative activities and citizen science programs that effectively engage all ages. The group’s president, Leigh Warneminde, proudly accepted the award. “We live in a really beautiful place, and it has slowly been degrading and under pressure from the population,” Leigh said. “We want to retain the natural beauty so that future generations get to experience the same pleasures from nature that we do.”

Fairfax Media Landcare Community Group Award winner Blackwood Basin Group chairman Per Christensen.

Winner: Blackwood Basin Group, WA
Category: Fairfax Media Landcare Community Group Award

The Blackwood Basin Group has been coordinating community-managed Landcare projects across the Blackwood Catchment for over two decades. The group builds close partnerships with other community groups to undertake vital projects that rehabilitate and protect the area. This approach has allowed the group to develop long-term partnerships with industry, government bodies and the community. Chairman Per Christensen thought it was a “fantastic” win. “I’ve been involved in Landcare for over 50 years,” he said. “I think winning will energize everybody in the group, not that they aren’t already. I also hope it will lead us to get more funding to do more Landcare work, because it’s so important.”

Indigenous Land Corporation Indigenous Land Management Award winner Crocodile Islands Rangers. George Milaypuma and Gerard Morgan accepted the award.

Winner: Crocodile Islands Rangers, NT
Category: Indigenous Land Corporation Indigenous Land Management Award

The Crocodile Islands Rangers manage the land and sea country of the Crocodile Islands, off the north east coast of Arnhem Land. This includes approximately 40,000 hectares of land, 200 kilometres of coastline and 6,000 square kilometres of sea country within Castlereagh Bay, a site recognised as being of international conservation significance due to the large aggregations of migratory shorebirds, large seabird colonies and important marine turtle nesting beaches. Ranger Gerard Morgan accepted the award. “We’re a small community, we only have 1,000 people on the island,” he said. “We don’t own the land; the land owns us. We want kids to learn and look after the land like we did.”

Yates Junior Landcare Team Award winner Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre – Creative Catchment Kids.

Winner: Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre – Creative Catchment Kids, NSW
Category: Yates Junior Landcare Team Award

Over the past five years, the Creative Catchment Kids program in Burrumbuttock, NSW has grown to include 60 Murray and Riverina schools. Its mission is to engage the region’s students and schools to develop more resilient landscapes and communities through a change in attitude toward natural resource management. The program provides activities that encourage students to learn about the importance of farming, biosecurity, cultural education and pest management. Junior Landcarer Charlie Doig, 12, was proud and happy to have won. “It’s so good, I’m really happy because it will probably promote more people to go to Wirraminna Environmental Centre to learn more about the environment.”

Manpower Young Landcare Leader Award joint winners Ella Maesepp and Naomi Edwards.

Joint Winners: Naomi Edwards, QLD and Ella Maesepp, WA
Category: Manpower Young Landcare Leader Award

Two impressive women from opposite sides of the country took home the Young Landcare Leader prize.

The Gold Coast’s Naomi Edwards is an innovative environmental advocate and co-founder of the national youth Landcare program, Intrepid Landcare. She has facilitated over 500 Landcare activities and 300 school and community environmental education sessions, bringing her creativity to engage large numbers of people. Naomi says winning the award will enable her to take her work to another level. “It’s humbling. Landcare gives you the opportunity to be creative and protect the environment. As a creative person who loves the environment, Landcare gives me that outlet.”

Ella Maesepp has worked to deliver a host of Landcare projects by working with farmers, school children, Indigenous communities, government, and community volunteers. Ella has worked as a Landcare Officer in the Upper Blackwood area for 12 years, delivering millions of dollars’ worth of projects to protect biodiversity, manage salinity, increase agricultural sustainability and reduce individual carbon footprints. “I’m thrilled at the opportunity,” Ella said of being recognised for her work. “These awards open doors and give opportunities to have new conversations and try different things. Landcare has been a vehicle where I can be empowered as an individual to do something for the greater good.”

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