Kicking off the 2022 National Landcare Conference, the NextGen Landcare Youth Forum provided a space for young people around Australia to come together and explore ways they can channel their passion and concern for the future of our planet into meaningful action.
Hosted by Costa Georgiadis and the team at Intrepid Landcare, the three sessions of the NextGen Landcare Youth Forum saw a range of inspiring young leaders and school students share their stories, tips, and experiences, moving on to then discuss the many diverse ways our young leaders, communities and schools can get involved and look after the environment, in their own way.
Designed for senior primary school students, high school students and youth groups aged 18 or under, NextGen Landcare Youth participants gained access to practical tools, resources, knowledge and support from people who could help make their ideas happen.
Online attendees were also guided through a Do stuff that matters journal throughout the forum, a resource that has been specifically designed to support young people to turn their ideas into action, and to connect with their community for support.
Opened by Junior Landcare Ambassador and all-round legend Costa Georgiadis, Part 1 offered an introduction to the NextGen Landcare Youth Forum and why young people are such an important part of the future of landcare and the Australian environment. The forum was also opened with a screening of A Message from Bob Hawke – produced by Monster Children and Hawkes Brewing Co.
Megan Lee gave an overview of Landcare and Intrepid Landcare and how to engage with the forum, and Annette Cavanagh introduced our first amazing speakers for the day.
Young First Nations leaders, Joshua Gilbert and Dhani Gilbert both lead the forum in the session ‘Young people connected with and caring for Country’ by sharing their unique pathways, insights and stories about what it meant to them to be caring for Country and left the audience with some inspiring thoughts to take forward.
Hosted by Chris Johnson, online attendees then heard from a diversity of young people from across Australia who were doing incredible things for the environment.
Presenters included: Elliot Connor, Spencer Hitchen, Patrick Twigg, Christmas Island District High School (Ayu Shahrin), Jayden Gunn, Gabrielle Stacey, Brentwood Secondary College Green Team (Brendan Davies, Arvind Indukuri, Katie Lim, Anais Ooi, Saadana Seyon, Nikhil Susarla). Read their full bios below.
Hosted by Beth Hamilton, online attendees were guided through the Do stuff that matters journal: turn your ideas into action for the environment and were invited to engage in some discussions about what matters most to them and some brainstorming of some project ideas they could explore moving forward.
Annette Cavanagh offered a summary and some next steps to keep the process in motion and Costa Georgiadis gave an epic summary of the day.
Do stuff that matters journal – turn your ideas into action for the environment
The Do stuff that matters journal – turn your ideas into action for the environment is a resource that has been designed by young people to support more young people to turn their ideas into action for the environment. It can be used as a stand alone resource to work through your passions and ideas, or it can accompany the NextGen Landcare Youth Forum recordings or your very own mini-forum or brainstorming session.
Engaging with the NextGen Landcare Youth Forum Recordings
If you missed the forum, you can catch up by watching the recordings linked above.
You can also use the recordings as part of your own mini-forum where you could gather a group of friends or youth group, your class, or more students across your school, to sit and work through the recordings as though you are participating in the forum.
If you are a teacher or a community facilitator who would like to host a youth gathering, also feel invited to use the recordings and journal as a resource to guide a session with young people in your community.
You could also invite inspiring young people in your community who are already leading change to give live presentations, and come and share their stories with more young people to help build connections and support.
Whatever you do, make it your own, have fun and share with us what comes out of your sessions! Share your ideas, your events and the impacts of your projects any time. We’d love to share your stories.
Tag us on the socials
Support for your projects and ideas
Join us on Landcarer in the Youth Engagement section to find resources, tips and ideas.
To get help with your project ideas, share your questions and projects in the thread.
Resources to get your projects going
Intrepid Landcare has designed a range of resources to help young people to design and deliver their on-ground projects. We also have resources for communities wishing to support young people too. You can explore them here:
Landcare Australia has a number of resources available as part of their Junior Landcare Program and Landcare Youth Program to help young people to design projects as well. Explore them here:
Meet the speakers
Joshua Gilbert is a young Worimi man, who is a well known climate and environmental advocate, having bridged the climate change and agricultural discussion to lead one of the first, proactive, international climate change motions.
He has been named Australian Geographic’s Young Conservationist of the Year, shot a documentary with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, was a Young Australian of the Year Finalist and shares his Aboriginal wisdom with audiences, such as his TEDxCanberra presentation.
His work on Traditional Native Foods has helped shaped the industry and provides farmers and Traditional Landholders with opportunities for the future.
Joshua is the current Indigenous Co-Chair of Reconciliation NSW and on the Boards of KU Children’s Services and the Aboriginal Housing Office. He is also the ambassador for Bridging the Gap Foundation and Young Farmers Connect. In 2021, Josh was announced as the Nature Conservancy Council’s Rising Star.
“The bringing together of the next generation of environmental advocates provides a powerful connection for the betterment of our society. Together, sharing yarns of joint hope, despite the fears, these youth have the power to learn, empathise and create change across their local communities. “
Dhani Gilbert is a proud Kalari (Lachlan River) Wiradjuri young woman, a community educator, and a university student passionate about achieving just and sustainable outcomes for First Nations Peoples, Country, community, and young people. Dhani has grown up involved in community action and Caring for Country practices inclusive of seed harvesting, cultural burning, weed eradication work, native vegetation restoration, and student-led First Nations plant use projects. These experiences have greatly shaped Dhani’s engagement with her studies, work, and future aspirations. She is now studying for a double degree at Australian National University focussing on science communication, ecology, resource management, and biodiversity conservation as well as a bachelor of arts at Charles Darwin University centered around languages and linguistics. Dhani also has a Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture, and Heritage. Dhani will share her experience working with community and the environment as well as delving into the power of collective action and how we can identify and overcome the barriers that prevent us from achieving a more just and sustainable future for all.
“The NextGen Landcare Forum is an exciting opportunity to connect with young people who are creating change in their communities. I’m looking forward to being a part of community discussions that highlight the important role young people play in creating long-lasting positive change, and having the opportunity to listen to and learn from other young people’s experiences.”
Elliot Connor is the founder and CEO of Human Nature Projects, a podcaster and TED speaker, UN consultant, wildlife rescuer and filmmaker, author, screenwriter and journalist. Having travelled to all four corners of the world and generally made an oyster of it, he now shares his love of wildlife through storytelling and mentors the next generation of conservationists as a member of CoalitionWILD’s steering committee.
Elliot will be sharing the ABCs of transformative storytelling which allowed him to scale his own charity across over one hundred countries, inspiring thousands of others to action. In the words of Sir David Attenborough: “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” Storytelling allows us to deliver these experiences vicariously, to turn heads and change minds, growing a greener future one tale at a time.
“In Australia we have one of the world’s largest deforestation fronts, a coral reef worth billions of dollars that is in peril, and the world’s fastest extinction rates of the past 400 years. But we also have thousands of youth advocates and naturalists prepared to stand up and make a difference. The NextGen Landcare Youth Forum is here to support the next generation to be formidable eco-warriors by sharing stories and strategies towards a cleaner, greener Earth. I can’t wait!”
Spencer Hitchen is a young conservationist at 11 years old standing up for the rights of nature and future generations. He is a runner up in the Les Hall Young Conservation Award 2022, runner up 2019 and finalist 2020 in the Holmes Junior Art Prize for Realistic Australia Bird Art, runner up in the World Kangaroo Day Photo Competition and many more!
He is a recipient of the Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots Mini Grants 2022 and has 64,700+ signatures to stop the destruction of 5.8 hectares of remnant habitat at Sunrise Beach on Gubbi Gubbi land, Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Spencer loves photography and uses his photographs to teach people about the natural world and how we need to protect it for our survival on this planet. Spencer loves nature and has wanted to protect it from a very young age.
Spencer is a member of many environment groups in his local community. In his presentation Spencer hopes to empower and inspire more youth to stand up for their future and their local environment.
“I’m really looking forward to sharing my journey with other kids like me so that they will feel empowered to stand up for what they love. I want to encourage them like I have been encouraged to believe in themselves and know that they can make a difference. I also want them to know I’m here to help and support them in any way I can.”
Patrick Twigg is a passionate young 12 year old farmer, composter and nature-lover! Instigating three projects at home including his very own native paddock, composting system and worm farm, he is sharing his story with the hopes of inspiring more young people to take simple, easy steps towards living a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable life.
Patrick will share his journey into looking after the planet from school National Tree Day plantings, to learning about native birds and what he could from the likes of Gardening Australia and other online forums, and then taking this knowledge home and doing something with it. Since setting up his own composting system and worm farm, he has now learnt what this does to different soil types and how the whole system is important when creating and looking after habitat for wildlife, as well as producing food.
“This project has impacted my family and I in many ways. We live on a farm and now try and plant more native trees that will encourage birds. Our family are now very conscious of the food waste we create and how we can assist the environment in reducing landfill and we are planting more vegetables to be more self sufficient. My projects have not only helped the health and wellbeing for my family but once fully established will give wildlife more homes.”
Christmas Island District High School. On Christmas Island each year a group of Year 9 and 10 students hit the beach to protect Christmas Island’s unique environment and wildlife. One of the biggest threats is marine debris! Greta Beach, an important turtle nesting beach on the island, is one of the beaches most heavily impacted by tonnes of marine debris from March – November. This also affects the quality of the beach for young people to enjoy because it is so polluted.
Hear about how these students are spreading the word about the impacts of waste on the environment, and what they are doing to protect wildlife and look after the places they love, so that all generations can benefit from a healthy environment.
Jayden Gunn is a young freelance wildlife photographer and passionate conservationist that specialises in Australian birdlife and vertebrate pest animal management on Wiradjuri land, Cowra, New South Wales.
He is a dedicated environmental educator and enjoys spending the majority of his time introducing people to Australia’s unique wildlife through digital storytelling paired with the photographs he captures. Jayden possesses a comprehensive knowledge of avicultural husbandry and devotes much of his spare time rehabilitating sick and/or injured birdlife and also breeding endangered Australian avian species.
Jayden has been chasing his dream to work in conservation since he was a kid, utilising Landcare as a pathway to acquire industry experience, knowledge and networks to make his dream a reality. Jayden now works for BirdLife Australia and has been an active member of Intrepid Landcare since the beginning of 2019. Jayden will share how following your passion can lead to the most incredible opportunities (and that you can make a difference along the way).
“I am really looking forward to young people hearing from so many inspiring speakers! There are many pathways to getting involved in looking after the environment, and as someone who has explored some of them I know just how rewarding it can be!”
Gabrielle Stacey is a Conservationist, Botanist and Landcare Coordinator in Muloobinba, Newcastle, New South Wales. She works as a Project Officer for the Hunter Region Landcare Network, facilitating conservation events and engaging with community to raise awareness of and participation in Landcare. In addition to her work with the Hunter Region Landcare Network, she is the Coordinator of Fern Creek Landcare – the most youthful and fastest-growing group in the area, and she is a Coordinating Member of Hunter Intrepid Landcare.
Through intergenerational partnerships, collaboration, digital presence and marketing, Gabrielle has greatly increased youth participation in Landcare across her various projects. She believes that “volunteers should leave feeling appreciated, fulfilled and ‘richer’ than when they arrived” and by connecting passionate individuals and experts with volunteers, she has fostered passions and empowered others to follow her lead in environmental conservation.
Gabrielle received the Young Landcare Leadership Award in the Hunter Region 2021, presented at the 2022 NSW State Landcare/Local Land Services Conference about ‘Marketing Landcare to Younger People’ and will be a presenter at this year’s National Landcare Conference. Gabrielle will discuss her journey into Landcare, uncovering new passions and skills and finding her niche in the industry.
“Landcare needs the innovation, curiosity and energy of young people to survive the anthropocene. My connection with nature has been so important for healing my mental health and wellbeing, but it has been through Landcare that I have discovered my passion and purpose, discovering ways to give back to Country in a meaningful way. I am so excited for young people to discover this as well.”
Brentwood Secondary College, located in Glen Waverley, Victoria, is a five-star ResourceSmart School catering to the educational needs of Years 7-12 students since 1969.
Brentwood’s ‘Towards Zer0 Bremissions’ project was awarded the Premier’s Sustainability Award in 2021 and the ResourceSmart School of the Year Award in 2022. The project is entirely student-driven by the Brentwood Green Team, and demonstrates a strong commitment to taking immediate action on climate change.
The Brentwood Green Team comprises of 30 students from Years 7 to 12. The team meets every Tuesday during lunch to discuss sustainability issues that concern the college, develop new projects and report progress on current projects. Over the past few years, Brentwood has not only focussed on improving infrastructure and reducing usage in electricity, water and waste but also worked on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Climate Change requires an immediate, collective effort. Brentwood’s Premier’s Sustainability Award-winning campaign ‘Towards Zero Bremissions’, has put Brentwood a step ahead of others by educating our community about the importance of immediate climate action.
The Green Team will share how young people can make a difference and that ‘change is possible’! Schools can also learn about how they can improve their sustainability practices and reduce their environmental footprint.
The NextGen Landcare Youth Forum would not have been what it was without the incredible support from Landcare Australia and Costa Georgiadis, and all of the young speakers who joined us to share their passion and journey into taking action for the environment.
We would also like to acknowledge the team of dedicated people who came together to design this forum and the journal so that more young people could access the opportunities and pathways that landcare provides.
Special thanks to Annette Cavanagh, Dhani Gilbert, Chris Johnson, Beth Hamilton, Jayden Gunn, Ian Parsons, Maddy Humfrys, Toby Davidson, Tania Viskovich, Megan Lee and Melissa Higgins.