Volunteering - from 19 to 90!

You can help protect the environment at any age. Meet volunteers Jack and Eric.

Jack Nesbitt wearing sunglasses and a backpack with mountain in background

'Don’t be afraid to give it a go!' - Jack

Jack Nesbitt (just turned 20) signed on to volunteer with Saving our Species (SoS) after travelling around Australia for a year. Now studying a course in Dog Behaviour and Training at Sydney TAFE, Jack found the opportunity to work as a volunteer on SoS’s endangered coastal emu population survey project in the state’s Mid-North Coast.

'The aim was to use conservation detection dogs to detect the presence of coastal emus in the landscape and to determine probable nesting habitat,' Jack told SoS News.

'My role was to act as a field assistant taking photographs and notes and searching for signs of the emus with the help of the detection dogs.

Penny the detection dog'We found possible juvenile emu signs – scats and foot prints – which was very exciting.'

Jack found his volunteering experience beneficial in many ways. For instance, he got into the field and saw real conservation work done as well as accessing some areas that would not be available otherwise.

'Being able to work with detection dogs in the field really helped me identify a profession I would like to pursue and helped me choose my direction of study,' he said.

The experience also aligned with his overall interests, which include outdoor activities, exploring practical scientific methods and working with animals in training and research.

'I would say to other young people – take up any volunteering opportunity,' Jack said.

'It is very rewarding and a lot could be learned from it. Don’t be afraid to give it a go!'

Eric Hurn with a Tasmanian Blue Gum'I’ve planted quite a few trees in my time!' - Eric

When SoS News first contacted Eric Hurn (aged 90), he was out gathering wood at a friend’s property. He phoned back.

A friend of SoS and member of the Roslyn Landcare Group, Eric was 10 years old in 1937 when he planted a Tasmanian Blue Gum (Provenance bicostata) in the school yard at Crookwell Public School on Arbour Day.

Eric turned 90 (in July 2017) and the tree and he still stand proudly together.

'I guess we were very lucky to have a teacher then who valued Arbour Day,' he said. At the time, he was one of around 30 pupils.

Eric told SoS News he’s had a good life, growing up on the land on properties both at Roslyn and Laggan near Crookwell. He lives in town now and volunteers with the primary school on Tree Day (the new name for Arbour Day) each year to help the children plant trees.

Eric Hurn talks to a group of school studentsOver the past seven years, under Eric’s keen tutelage, the Crookwell primary children have planted around 300 to 370 trees in the local area.

'It often seems they do it in 20 minutes,' Eric laughed, 'they’re so keen!'

Eric said that his life around trees has not only made him aware of their benefits to the environment but also their value to the landowner.

'They encourage better returns on a property,' Eric said.

Anna Murphy: Eric is an interesting man because he grew up in the (Crookwell/Goulburn) area and has seen the dramatic loss of flora and fauna over time. As an antidote, he’s planted quite a few trees in his time!

The next edition of SoS News will feature more on volunteering with Saving our Species.

Want to know more about volunteering?

Meanwhile, if you are interested in volunteering on threatened species projects with SoS or National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), please email our mailbox at savingourspecies@environment.nsw.gov.au or visit our Help save our threatened species webpage or the NPWS Volunteering opportunities webpage.

Photo credits (top to bottom): Jack Nesbitt; Jason O'Brien; Fairfax; Fairfax