Connecting people to science and nature for 40 years
VFFF’s newest partner in the Caring for the Environment focus area, Earthwatch Australia, celebrated 40 years of impact at a wonderful evening at the State Library of Victoria in March.
Earthwatch Australia’s mission is to empower people to save the natural world and their CEO, Fiona Sutton- Wilson, used the event to highlight how her team is delivering on this mission through their range of programs. Bringing people, science and nature together to create transformational experiences and build long term positive behaviour change towards the environment is at the heart of Earthwatch Australia’s work.
VFFF Director Suzanne Cridge attended the celebration and having spent a lifetime working in education, Earthwatch Australia’s education programs and their impact on students and teachers alike, particularly resonated.
Chair of Earthwatch Australia, Mathew Nelson, EY’s Global Leader for Climate Change and Sustainability Services and EY's Oceania Chief Sustainability Officer, also spoke at the event, encouraging all attendees to raise awareness of Earthwatch Australia’s work to enable the organisation to continue to grow their impact. Mathew highlighted the success of one program, the Bush Blitz nature discovery program, which is centred around expeditions on conservation areas. This program has discovered more than 1,800 new species of plants and animals in the last decade, adding thousands of new species records to what is already known and demonstrating the power of citizen science activities.
At the event Earthwatch Australia also took the opportunity to announce that through the support of the VFFF, they will be adding a new initiative to their program suite, Agents of Change for the Environment (ACE): Young Leaders and Sustainability Program. This new program will fill a gap in what is available to young people in terms of both community-based environmental science activities and environmental leadership development. Initially the program will be piloted in three locations across regional NSW and Queensland, supporting participants to not only build their skills, knowledge and networks, but also elevating their voice in local environmental issues and if they choose to, better understand potential vocational based career opportunities in the environment space.
With Australia now committed to a nature positive future, it is more important than ever that young people understand the growing opportunities to participate in the transition and have the skills, knowledge, confidence and voice to do so. It will be exciting to watch this program expand over the course of this three-year grant and beyond.
Congratulations Earthwatch Australia on this 40 year milestone – your work is worth celebrating.