What was found by one person in 30min at The Spit?

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I usually turn a few heads when driving my Classic 1962 Beetle with my crazy dog out the window on the way to the beach. Then when I get there she leaps out the door howling with excitement leaving me coughing in the dust. But I’m not too far behind her armed with one glove on my right hand, a bag in the other and a pick up stick before I hit the pavement and sand to clean up the beach. Yep, people look at me thinking… that’s a cool car, a crazy dog or beach goer or all the above. Sometimes I get the ‘community service’ look…

But tonight I got a few more show stoppers than usual and all for good and bad reasons. After my 30min beach blitz I laid out the trash I collected from along the seawall and beach at The Spit, Gold Coast’s most northern ocean beach on the mainland. While my crazy dog was still saying hello to every person and dog in the car park, I was busy doing my thing sorting the trash. Then one, two, three, four people and soon a small crowd gathered around looking on wondering what I was doing. Firstly they were stoked that I had collected a bag of trash while enjoying a stroll on the beach, though, secondly were disgusted on what was found! Along their beach where they also leisurely walk, fish, surf and swim.

Who would leave their dog’s poo in a plastic bag on the beach? Who leaves their stubbies and cans in the dunes? Why would balloons wash up on the beach? And how did a bucket handle get to the beach?

These were all good questions that I was happy to answer, even share Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative manual. I was able to show them how to ID the trash, then how to count what was collected and tally up the totals. But more importantly explain why I was collecting marine debris data and where it went, and its importance to enhance our understanding of marine debris impacts. In no time, being a veteran at counting trash I confirmed 99 items, separated the recycling to dispose of at home and binned the rest.

In one hour from door to door I had enjoyed a sunset, did my bit for the beach, entered the data online and my dog was happy and now tired (and got treats from the ‘cat’ lady). All it took was one hour out of my day. What can you do for your beach in 30mim or even an hour?

You can also be a Volunteer Ambassador for Responsible Runners, a Pulse up, Waste down initiative to reduce wastes ending up in waterways and the ocean. Connect with Responsible Runners to join a clean up or start your own.

Intrepid: o what a feeling

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Intrepid: o what a feeling of fearless, adventurous, daring, bold. 

In some sense that is what it takes to take the first step to volunteer, try something new, go beyond your comfort zone, to be intrepid.

And that is what is happening…

In March this year I had the privilege of co-leading a Landcare leadership retreat for students with Megan Rowlatt from Illawarra Intrepid Landcare. All it took to make it happen was to pick up the phone and call Megan, invite her along, find some from sponsorships and some new fresh-faced local youth – of course. It was held on the Gold Coast to encourage local youth to get involved in Landcare, connect them with those in the know-how and support local environmental action. It was pretty fresh, 12 new faces thinking I wonder what the weekend might unfold…

Fast forward 2 months and those very same youth are killing it, in a good way. They are killing their call to action to transform old ways of doing things into fresh, inviting and exciting ways. It’s not what was old is new and cool again, they have started with a bare canvas, dreams and visions to make a difference. And they certainly are… cause this is what they have been doing.

Established:

+ Responsible Divers: to inspire divers to clean up waterways and connect other dive and clean up groups.
+ Youth 4 Beaches: Briody Fahey founded Youth 4 Beaches last year and since the retreat she is going beyond her call to action to inspire other youth to care for beaches and oceans.
+ Rivermount College Mass River Restoration project: Inspired by Gold Coast’s Biggest Tree Planting Day… Elijah, Luke and Zoey has submitted a proposal to their school to support 2km of river restoration, two mass school planting days, open access to the river AND interpretative signage for their get to be named ‘river walk’.
+ Southport SHS: Val and Mac are implementing a school-scale 0-waste initiative to encourage students to compost their food scraps and recycle, while reduce the use of single-use plastics.

But, wait there is more!

AND… all while they launch Gold Coast Intrepid Landcare! There is no stopping the dream for this bunch of local youth. As Gold Coast Intrepid Landcare is about inspiring young, awesome, enthusiastic people to take care of Gold Coast’s environment while exploring the outdoors, having fun and making friends! By attending festivals, expos and supporting members of the local Landcare network they hope to recruit and connect local youth to the many amazing causes carving a sustainable future – for youth and the planet.

A big congratulations to the new group and especially Juliet Saltmarsh and Paula van Breda who are leading the way for the group.

But we are not stopping here. Megan and I have brainstormed an incredible future for the Intrepid Landcare brand. If you are keen for local youth to get involved in your community or classify yourself as youth and keen to get involved, give us a hoy!

 

Proudly supported by Landcare Australia, Neutrogena Naturals through the National Youth Engagement, Ambassador initiative.

Give Happy, Live Happy… it’s Volunteer Week

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So, it’s National Volunteer Week and I have been asked to share my two cents about volunteering. Being an obsessed and at times an over-committed volunteer this requests sits well with me. Yeah, that’s fine… I’ll write a blog in my sleep.

But I am inspired and for a million and one reasons! It’s National Volunteer Week! It can’t get any better than this, right?

Well it can. But before I share how it can get better – than right now – I must take a trip down memory lane to share my volunteer experiences.

My parents have always been giving people so it’s in my DNA to be give back too. I am finding it hard to remember the very first time I volunteered, but I imagine it would have been doing fundraising drives at school or church. This soon evolved to run refugee kids clubs at Zonta get togethers when I was a teenager. I had actually forgotten about this until a Zonta member recently reminded me on how she met me… as that was so long ago. Then while cruising through high school we all did the Salvo’s Red Shield Appeal and the 40hr famine – yay for Barley Sugars!

Then boom. There I was standing on a bare sand dune helping a small group, well two other people aged 60+ caring for the dunes at Federation Walk Coastal Reserve on the Gold Coast. I was in my first year of university studying environmental science and was shocked to find out that there was only three people (including me) caring for 93ha of coastal dunes – that day (there is an ongoing group but still). I remember thinking to myself, geez, if no body else volunteers out here we’ll be here forever.

And so, that was my pivotal volunteer moment. I shared my inspiring possibility of encouraging other students to come along and help the oldies do their thing, which in fact turned into my first volunteer project – as I somehow became the coordinator (and didn’t even know it).

Fast forward almost a decade and today I still volunteer. Thinking on top of my head I reckon I volunteer in part or full capacity for 8 organisations… and sit on about 6 Boards / Committees. And in between currently driving four new initiatives – can’t wait to share the new and shiny Gold Coast Intrepid Landcare initiative with you, next week!

I do work in between to cash up my bank account for a while and to pay my bills, but volunteering is more important and it has in many cases opened employment and now consultancy opportunities.

The best part about volunteering is being able to be creative, imagine endless possibilities and have passion and purpose for a cause that is close to your heart. Without getting to soapy, volunteering has connected me to a world filled with amazing people, inspiration and dreams.

So, can it really get better than this, right now? It can and it starts with you …. find a local cause that sits well with your values and volunteer as you never know where it might lead you. And if you already volunteer pick up another volunteer opportunity and go crazy!

If you are looking for an eco-volunteer adventure I’ll give Landcare Australia a plug since I’ve somehow become a Young National Ambassador for Landcare!