Conservation education is key to securing the future of Australia’s wildlife

By Helen Crisp, Regional Ecologist, Chalali Holness, Conservation and Ecology Intern and Sophie Winter, Social Media Manager

Conservation education aims to enable complex ecological issues to be widely understood and to inspire care for natural resources, which means that through education we can help improve the environment. Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) invests in the long-term protection of Australian wildlife and habitats by educating and inspiring future conservationists, ecologists and environmental scientists.

This investment is demonstrated in two parts. The first being the AWC’s annual internship program, which offers promising graduates the opportunity to gain valuable experience in conservation ecology. The second is AWC’s School Education Program, where guided tours and overnight excursions give elementary and graduate school children insight into the remarkable and ecologically significant environments of AWC’s sanctuaries and partnership areas. .

Education also involves communication. Every story shared by the AWC – and that you share with your friends and networks – connects to a larger vision: to see a world where Australian biodiversity is valued and effectively conserved by an engaged community.

Brad Leue/AWC
AWC Regional Ecologist Helen Crisp with a group of students at Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary in South Australia.

Internship program to train future ecologists

AWC offers a unique conservation and ecology internship program with the goal of introducing talented graduate scientists to a variety of plants and animals, sharing practical field skills and animal handling techniques, and developing their understanding of current and challenging conservation issues.

The program was launched in 2008 with funding from generous AWC supporter Ross Knowles. It has steadily expanded and evolved over the past 15 years – growing from just one intern per year to 21 outstanding graduates in 2023.

Chalali Holness has been an intern with AWC’s Southeast team since May 2022, with involvement in projects on Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary, Mallee Cliffs National Park and the Pilliga Partnership Area, where AWC works in collaboration with the NSW government.

“It has always been my dream to pursue a career that will benefit my people and work closely with Indigenous practices and cultures. As a First Nations person, I always want to keep my country at the forefront of my mind no matter what I do. It was a heartwarming experience to see science and operations teams across the industry using Indigenous names for native wildlife and incorporating all the Indigenous practices they learned.

If this area is your passion, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is an ideal organization to work for. It is clear that each member of the team is passionate about their work and wants to devote their energy and faith to creating a supportive and thriving environment for native animals and plants and their workers, volunteers and supporters.

Each team member will go above and beyond to leave a lasting positive impression and ensure everyone develops and implements the appropriate retention models.

Vicki Stokes/AWC
AWC intern Chalali Holness inspects a stripe-faced Dunnart.

Nature immersion camps inspire and educate school-aged students

When you think back to your childhood, are there any particular moments of wonder that stand out in your memory? A joyous walk in the bush with family or friends? Did your first encounter with an animal make you want to know more?

Early experiences like these provide a connection to the natural world and a desire to protect it.

AWC staff are passionate about bringing young people out into nature, experiencing Australia’s unforgettable environments and learning the importance of protecting our ecosystems.

Karakamia, Paruna and Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuaries in Western Australia offer one-day and multi-day school education programs, with conservationist-led experiences tailored to the needs of each group. The Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kimberley hosts annual school visits. Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary in the Wet Tropics of Queensland also sporadically hosts school trips and outdoor education programs. Mount Zero-Taravale and Bowra Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland’s Mulga Lands bioregion host university tours.

Students from Carey Baptist Grammar School participate in outdoor education at Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary. Oli Aylen/AWC
Students from Carey Baptist Grammar School participate in outdoor education at Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary.

Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary in the Murraylands region of South Australia has a long-standing education program. AWC staff have developed activities and projects closely linked to the South Australian curriculum.

AWC South Central Regional Ecologist Helen Crisp is based in Yookamurra and leads both the regional science program and the dedicated wildlife education program in Yookamurra.

“Over the years we have had thousands of students through the wild gates of Yookamurra. The activities we carry out focus on science and raising awareness of Australian biodiversity – students have the opportunity to go out into the field, collect and analyze their own data and discuss the results with their peers, teachers and AWC staff.

School groups can visit the sanctuary for a day or stay overnight for a unique and exciting school camp experience, with AWC staff providing education and activities on endangered species and scientific conservation methods.

In an effort to deliver science-based outcomes, we have developed a series of guided projects that encourage students to experience and understand the complex interactions that make up our unique Mallee ecosystem.

Over the next few years, the AWC plans to work to increase our external engagement, particularly through education, to share the value of Australia’s unique biodiversity and inspire a passion to protect it. and restore it.

Read and download the full issue of Wildlife Matters here.

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors. See in full here.

Leave a Comment