Words by Jayden Gunn
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 2018 National Landcare Conference and Awards and to say the least I was blown away by the amount of passion and inspiration in attendance. The people I had the honour to meet, the lifelong friends I made, the stories shared and the lessons learnt really opened up my eyes, heart and mind. It was a week I’ll never forget and it was an absolute privilege to be able to attend. Shout out to Mid-Lachlan Landcare who funded my attendance as their Vertebrate Pest Animal Coordinator, which is a newly made position under the also new 2018 Vertebrate Pest Animal Management Plan. It was an honour to represent you!
In reflection, the conference inspired me to think about what community means to me? I personally see one part of the word in particular that sticks out, “unity”, which means to be united or joined.
This idea of “unity” helped me to lessen my anxious feelings when first walking into the Welcoming Reception that was packed full of strangers as that feeling was quickly overcome, as it was exactly as the name suggests, welcoming. It was amazing to see how well everyone came together to discuss their issues and ideas within their regions as well as share their experiences with each other as that is what Landcare is about. I noticed “unity” coming into play.
Throughout the conference I was also exposed to how Landcare is like a family unit in how we support each other but not just each other, but how we support people and wildlife, as well as the land in which we all reside and call home. We are carers of land, not only within the boundaries of Australia but further afield now that we’ve spread the Landcare ethos into other countries in need like Uganda and the Philippines to name just a few that were represented at the conference.
A wide variety of topics were raised for discussion during the conference, some were good news, some quite worrying and some moving forward into the future. I can see that we have plenty of problems yet to face but I feel confident that we as a “family unit” can conquer any challenge when we have “unity”.
Walking away from the conference was where I noticed the biggest impact it had on me. I had new kindle to the flame that is my passion and motivation along with a fine tuned sense of direction on what I need to do next in my region – Mid Lachlan, NSW (west of Dubbo).
The next step is not one of “how can we improve what we already do” but instead we have to find ways to inspire the next generation. I think we need to focus more on education and engage school groups in exciting youth engagement programs like animal conservation related activities and native plant workshops.
The conference got me thinking, the world’s youth are ready to be inspired but who is actually inspiring them?
As a young person passionate about environmental conservation I feel as though if I was approached by Landcare sooner I’d be more involved today. Imagine if we tackle this idea and take advantage of youth engagement with land carer’s inspiring the younger generation. I think the people of yesterday need to engage and inspire the people of today so that today’s youth are prepared to do the same for the people of tomorrow.
But this needs to happen at a bigger scale and at a much faster pace as we are already dealing with a dangerous rate of extinction with 41,415 plant and animals species world wide on IUCN red list. If we don’t step up our game soon we’ll be telling stories to our children of our incredible environment and personally, I’d rather than showing them.
Jayden is a talented wildlife photographer and wildlife advocate. You can connect with Jayden on his Facebook which is Jayden Gunn (Gunny) or his instagram – @gunnys_wildlife_photography.
If you are inspired by Jayden’s call to inspire the next generation, feel free to reach out to us and subscribe to our newsletter or download and share our tools for youth engagement. Or if you have an idea get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credits: Jayden Gunn, see more of his pics here.