Ms Nicole Henry
Melbourne Class facilitator
Growing up in regional and coastal Victoria, ignited an interest in the natural environment for Nicole. Encouraged by
her Biology teaching father, Nicole pursued her passion in Botany and Zoology and has worked as a Science educator
in both the Government and Independent school sectors for many years, developing expertise in Senior Biology. This
has seen her encouraging and nurturing young adults to view the Outdoors as a dynamic environment to be
explored, studied and appreciated. Nicole is excited to be involved in the Nature Stewards Initiative and believes
that no matter what our past experiences, we can all benefit from a greater understanding of our environment. The
family passion for the natural environment has continued with her own children studying Environmental Science and
Population Geography and Science at a tertiary level.
Mr Rustem Upton
Melton Class facilitator
Rustem grew up on a bush block in Melbourne’s outer north which helped instil a love and respect of, and an inquisitiveness in, Australia’s natural environments. His initial interest was in birds, receiving his first pair of binoculars on his tenth birthday. He has had a professional involvement in the environment industry for over 20 years, working as a bushland revegetator, ecologist and environmental educator. In 2016, Rustem completed a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Education, achieving First-class Honours for his research into the motivations of citizen science participants. Rustem has a keen professional and personal interest in how communities relate to the natural world, and is actively involved in a number of community environment groups, including Geelong Field Naturalist Club and Ocean Grove Coastcare.
Mr Greg Boldiston
Fungi photography, Mt Macedon
Born and raised in the forests and gardens of Mt Macedon, Greg trained horticulturist and plant collector, with a passion for natural science, the natural world and of course, fungi.
Greg will be presenting for the Melbourne program in 2019
Ms Yvonne Cabuang
Waterwatch, Melbourne Water
Yvonne works as a Waterwatch Coordinator for Melbourne Water managing the Waterbug Census and supporting water quality volunteers in the Maribyrnong and Werribee catchments. Waterwatch involves a number of citizen science programs that connect local communities with river health and sustainable water issues and gets them involved in monitoring in their local catchment.
Yvonne is passionate about connecting the community with local waterways and teaching hands-on skills in monitoring and caring for our wetlands, creeks and rivers. She has a degree in Environmental Science and completed an Honours project exploring waterbugs and their habitat in two Melbourne streams.
Yvonne will be presenting for the Melton program in 2019
Mr Max Campbell
President, The Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
President of The Field Naturalist Club of Victoria (4 years). Biologist and active field naturalist for over 50 years with a special interest in invertebrates and biodiversity. Max is strongly committed to the establishment of the Nature Stewards program.
Max will be presenting for both Melton & Melbourne programs in 2019
Dr Lawrie Conole – call me Lawrie
Coordinator City Environment & Sustainability, the City of Melton
I’ve been a bird nerd since the early years of high school in the 1970s. From then to now I’ve been involved in volunteer activities with organisations like BirdLife Australia, and somewhere along the way I finished a PhD on bird ecology. I’m best known for knowing about birds, but I’m also into bats and frogs, and know a bit about some native plants as well. At Melton it’s my responsibility to see that our natural areas are being looked after, and that residents have the chance to enjoy wildlife and native plants in their gardens and neighbourhoods, and in some of our conservation reserves.
Lawrie will be presenting for the Melton program in 2019
Ms Kirsty Costa
Learning Innovation Leader at Zoos Victoria
Hi! I’m Kirsty and I live in my element by mashing my passions – education and sustainability. I started out as a primary teacher, became an award-winning educator and now I’m the Learning Innovation Leader at Zoos Victoria. It’s such a cool job. I get to help our three awesome zoos ignite a love of learning about conservation in 140,000 young Victorians every year. Through my 20+ years working and volunteering in change projects, I’ve learnt a lot about how to build community participation and cultivate nature stewardship. I can’t wait to share some stories and hear yours too.
Kirsty will be presenting for the Melbourne program in 2019
Dr Jillian Garvey
Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University
I have been fortunate enough to be able to combine my lifelong interest in Australia’s unique fauna with archaeology. This has enabled me to pursue a research career focusing on zooarchaeology or the role of animals in Australian archaeology. I am particularly interested in how the First Australian’s interacted with animals, what species they chose to hunt and how they butchered and cooked them, as well as what secondary products they used such as fur skins and bone tools. I have been involved innumerous Australian archaeology and palaeontological (specifically focusing on extinct megafauna) research projects including bone assemblages from southwest Tasmania, Lake Mungo and Cuddie Springs in NSW, and in Lancefield in VIC. My current research focuses on human occupation and use of the landscape in the central Murray River Valley in northwest Victoria at Trust for Nature’s Neds Corner Station and the adjacent Murray-Sunset (Yanga Nowie) National Park, and in northwest and eastern Tasmania.
Jillian will be presenting for the Melton program in 2019
Mr Ben Kroker
Senior Land Management Officer City Design, Strategy & Environment, City of Melton
Ben has been working and volunteering in the outdoors all his life, including in defence, nature tourism, agriculture, outdoor education, catchment management, bushcare, and landcare.
He is passionate about helping people to develop a relationship with the land and landscape they inhabit, to understand their role in it, and build their capacity to take responsibility for managing it.
Ben will be presenting for the Melton program in 2019
Ms Ann McGregor
I have enjoyed watching birds since I was a youngster in the Dandenong Ranges, and this led to an interest in nature conservation. As an environmental planner I have worked at the University of Melbourne, in the Victorian Public Service and as a consultant. I have volunteered with environmental groups for over 40 years, particularly focused on the Merri Creek. Through volunteering I have learnt a lot, made many friends, and had the pleasure of seeing bushland protected, re-established and appreciated. After hearing about the US Master Naturalist programs, I was inspired (with strong support from my family) to introduce the model in Victoria as a means of connecting people more deeply with nature and encouraging them to enjoy the many benefits of environmental volunteering.
Ann will be presenting for Nature Stewards, Melton in 2019
Dr Bruce McGregor
President of the Victorian National Parks Association
Growing up in rural Western Victoria, near the Grampians/Gariwerd instilled a passion for the outdoors and nature. I loved geography, bush walking and playing Aussie Rules Football. My father introduced me to bird watching and growing native plants. I am an active research scientist with training in biology, land management, adult education and organisation leadership. For many years I have volunteered with environmental groups in environmental protection and restoration, waterway management, and outdoor recreation. This led to a Victorian Environmental Friends Network Best Friend Award in 2015. I currently volunteer with the Victorian National Parks Association, Trust for Nature and BirdLife Australia.
Bruce will be presenting for the Melbourne program in 2019
Dr Sapphire McMullan-Fisher
Ecologist, Royal Botanic Gardens
Sapphire is an ecologist who has special interest in the conservation of biodiversity, particularly the macrofungi and mosses. Sapphire has been actively involved with Fungimap* since 1999. She is also active with Australian scientific groups like the Education Subcommittee of the Australasian Mycological Society, the Ecological Society of Australia, Australian Bryophyte Workshops and community groups including many field naturalist clubs and Landcare groups.
Having lived in four states and travelled across Australia’s landscapes she has been involved in many of the fungal community groups over the years. She has worked with many of these groups to raise the profile of local fungi and the important roles fungi play in our environment. She is involved in Greening Australia’s Habitat Conservation and Management Course and the new Victorian Nature Stewards program. She particularly enjoys getting out into the bush to discover fungal treasures as often as she can.
Sapphire will be presenting for both the Melbourne & Melton programs in 2019
Ms Kathy Overton
Community Based Bushfire Management Officer Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP)
Kathy has many years’ experience as a Science teacher in NSW and Victorian schools, with particular interest in ecology and interpreting difficult scientific concepts. She has also had extensive experience in environmental and bushfire community and school education, working as an education officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, at DELWP, Sustainability Victoria, CFA and in her own consultancy business. In recent years, her work focus is working with communities to better understand bushfire risk and what it takes to better prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfires.
Kathy will be presenting for both the Melbourne & Melton programs in 2019
Ms Kirsten Parris
Associate Professor of Urban Ecology in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at The University of Melbourne
Kirsten Parris is an Associate Professor of Urban Ecology in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at The University of Melbourne, and the Leader of the NESP Hub for Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL).
She has a deep affinity with frogs, and research interests that span urban ecology, conservation biology, animal behaviour, field survey methods and ecological ethics. In 2016, Kirsten published Ecology of Urban Environments (Wiley Blackwell), a text book for upper-level undergraduate and Masters students that provides an accessible introduction to urban ecology, using existing ecological theory to identify generalities in the complexity of urban environments. Kirsten’s current research projects focus on the impacts of urban noise on acoustic communication in birds and frogs; the ecological costs and benefits of artificial wetlands in urban landscapes; community ecology in cities; and practical ways in which humans can better share the urban environment with other species. She also enjoys science communication including stand-up science comedy. You can read more about her research at kirstenparris.com.
Kirsten will be presenting for the Melbourne program in 2019
Mr Dean Stewart
Aboriginal Tours & Education, Melbourne
Dean Stewart is a proud and passionate Wemba Wemba-Wergaia Aboriginal man of Victoria with well over 20 years’ experience developing, co-ordinating and conducting Cultural tourism, education, environmental and interpretation programs.
Dean was the creator and coordinator of the highly successful ‘Aboriginal Heritage Walks’ while employed as Aboriginal Liaison for the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Cranbourne. He also assisted in initiating similar Aboriginal Cultural walks for the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. After his many years there he continued his passion as the Senior Manager of Cultural Education Programs for the Koorie Heritage Trust and Aboriginal Tourism Victoria.
In his earlier life Dean was a professional revegetation and conservation coordinator and he continues his deep connection of caring for country and our shared custodianship for the land through his Grasslands projects.
All fertile grounding, which he continues to weave into all his cultural tours and programs.
Dean’s Aboriginal Cultural programs provide deep and thought provoking experiences at many levels, and too innumerable people – today almost 15,000 Melbournians share in Dean’s cultural programs and knowledge, and connections every year. All share in a journey of immersive knowledge in our shared and rich history. His Aboriginal Cultural tours and program are insightful, challenging, and may even be inspiring!
Dean loves sharing his culture, and his connections, and in particular enjoys getting Melbournians to better understand “their own backyard”, and the rich and deep history of this special Place and People – striving to plant an indigenous seed of knowledge and connection for everyone for everyone; within the place that we now all call ‘Home’ – as the very newest custodians of this ancient land!
“I acknowledge the Kulin custodians, past and present, the Elders and Ancestral Spirits of
this special land upon which I live and work.”
Dean will be presenting for the Melbourne program in 2019
Mr Jim Szonyi
Education Services Park Ranger, City of Melbourne
Jim Szonyi has a background in environmental science and has worked for the past 15 years in the natural resource management sector as a park ranger, environmental educator and as a specialist dedicated to restoring and repairing Victoria’s native habitats. Jim joined the City of Melbourne in 2012 where he works to develop and deliver biodiversity education programs for schools and early learning centres with the goal of inspiring young people to become our future nature stewards.
Jim will be presenting for the Melbourne program in 2019