Dear volunteer: It all starts by understanding that something needs to be done. Something could be a bit better and you want to do something about it. Whether it’s a bare patch of land, a heap of weeds, an eroded bank or dune. In thousands of different ways over thousands of different places, thousands of people end up caring for this country each and every year.
It starts by putting your hand up to go on the committee, by turning up to the local busy bee, an hour two at the community nursery.
You meet like minded people doing the same thing, smiles are infectious, good stories are shared, cuppas, home made cakes and biscuits after a wet and wild winter planting under a steamy tarp.
Racking your brains out over a grant at 4.45pm after twelve hours straight on the thing and it’s due in fifteen minutes. And then you get the call you got it!
Without realising it you know a thing or two now about the place, and a few more people from there. And that feels kinda nice. The local traditional owners and some of the stories you wouldn’t read on a sign, how and where that plant grows and that you can eat it (even if it does taste like snot) and if you put it in your garden birds will come.
Some decide to dedicate a fair proportion of their lives to it, without any form of remuneration, year after year after year. But there’s definitely forms of reward that money will never buy; visiting that sand dune you covered in brush with new mates and neighbours and seeing it covered in flowering natives. Sitting under that eucalypt you planted next to thousands of it’s cousins that weren’t there 15 years ago. Finding a birds nest in it. Showing your kids.
Sometimes it goes a bit too far and we find ourselves burnt to bits. The pressure’s of coordinating, financial management, reports, OHS, meetings, emails, this event, another request that you can’t say no to. “I just wanted to plant a few trees for goodness sake”. But after a good break and a lesson to keep your hand in your pockets and when to say no a bit more you’re back. That’s not good enough though, no volunteer should end up like that and we all need to stop this from happening.
All in all, the country wouldn’t be the same without you, the culture wouldn’t be the same without you. And it’s all for the better.
On behalf of the Western Australian Landcare Network, thank you for all that you do.
Please feel free to share some stories and photos!