Nature Stewards is a brand new program for adults in Victoria, seeking to connect to their local environment, whilst learning to care for it in a number of different ways.
The first City of Melbourne session starts this evening at 6:00pm Thursday 21 February
The ten-week Nature Stewards pilot programs, running through the Cities of Melbourne and Melton, are now booked out, both with waitlists. Both programs offer indoor and local outdoor field sessions, together with specialist guest speakers and field presenters.
We’ve made the programs more accessible to a wider community by keeping course costs down. Our goal is to help foster more opportunities for people living in urban environments to:
- connect with nature,
- build environmental literacy,
- develop social connections,
- and stimulate environmental action via volunteering to care for the local environment
The Nature Stewards program has its roots in the popular 20-year Master Naturalist program from the USA. In Australia it has been developed by Outdoors Victoria, with help from the cream of a number of Environmental organisations in Victoria, including volunteer experts from the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, Victorian National Parks Association, Parks Victoria, local Indigenous communities, Friends of Groups, and the Cities of Melbourne and Melton. A wider support group including representatives from Universities, Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association, Landcare, and Environment Education Victoria have also been involved.
Nature Stewards is primarily funded by the Department of Environment Land Water Planning and is a vehicle for bringing part of the department’s plan for Victoria, Biodiversity 2037, to life amongst the community.
Through the recent City of Melbourne Nature Stewards application process, participants were keen to share their thoughts on the program with Dr Maddy Willcock, Nature Stewards Co-ordinator:
I want to get back to nature more, and even in the city. Therefore I am excited to be part of the program to facilitate this.”
“There are two main reasons for joining. 1) Since I am not originally from Australia, there is a lot I don’t know about the native species here. I would like to learn more these species and their environments. 2) Meeting like-minded people. It would be nice to engage with people who share my same interests.”
“I see this as a chance to take care and do something for our environment, and also develop scientific skills in approaching this aim by collaborating with others.”
“As a Steward I’d be able to help in a functional way, as well as to learn and broaden my opportunities for future employment and to network with likeminded people. I find the whole concept exciting..”
Andrew Knight, the CEO of Outdoors Victoria is energised by Nature Stewards. Wow what a program, built by the community for the community, with numerous positive outcomes for local residents and the local environment they live in. Great to see that Nature Stewards is attracting men and women of varying ages and backgrounds, as caring further for Victoria’s environment will take a whole-of-community effort.
Nature Stewards in the City of Melbourne was oversubscribed by 375% with many now on a waitlist.
Nature Stewards Program Co-ordinator, Dr Maddy Willcock reflected, “That with 250,000 residents and around a million visitors into the City of Melbourne each day, I’m proud to be part of this avant-garde program, Nature Stewards, for the benefit of the people of Victoria, and to assist with the community’s connection with and care of our environment.”
Andrew Knight, CEO Outdoors Victoria: 0437 452 456, firstname.lastname@example.org