Media Releases 2018

Posted on 06/04/2018 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Making a difference by volunteering

The new Volunteer Program at Phillip Island Nature Parks seems to be striking a chord with a whole range of people for a whole range of reasons, but it’s not hard to spot a common theme that motivates many of these dedicated folk.

Elise is a Churchill Island garden volunteer as well as a visitor experience volunteer, and when asked recently why she gave of her time and joined the volunteer program, she was pretty quick to respond: “I have always volunteered in other organisations and have always found some sort of volunteering that can fit in with my life. I do it for lots of reasons. I like the activities and the social contact, but mainly I like to be part of something so that I can make a difference. That makes me feel motivated, satisfied and happy.”

This notion of making a difference appears to be a common motivator with many of the Nature Parks’ volunteers, and the new program is making it even easier for people to contribute and make a difference across a lot of different types of volunteering opportunities.

“The new Volunteer Program is excellent. It has so many opportunities and it is easy to find out what’s involved including the hours, what sort of work you will be doing such as physical, outdoors or interacting with visitors. With the new program, you can commit the hours you wish. It’s a bit like casual work where you can choose when you volunteer and plan when you have time off for holidays. It’s a well organized program offering a variety of great opportunities.

In a former life, Elise was a microbiologist in a brewery for 33 years, and it’s fair to say that she wouldn’t have had much call to learn about Hooded Plovers doing this line of work. After coming across a Hooded Plover volunteer while holidaying in Anglesea, Elise learnt all about the threats to this critically endangered bird, and what she could do to help.

“That volunteer really reached me, and I realised that I could make a difference too! The Hooded Plovers have so many threats, and spending a couple of hours on a beautiful beach is really not too hard. All they need is space to raise their babies. This is what we educate people on – giving the Hooded Plovers some space. I have learnt so much about the Hooded Plovers, and my partner Frank now volunteers with me and he is just as passionate.”

Elise recounted one of her favourite volunteer stories from when she was travelling in Turkey. “We visited a botanic gardens, and there were some volunteers there using rustic rakes. Even though none of them spoke English, I managed to ask them if I could use the rake. They laughed and I laughed, and even though it was only a couple of minutes, this enjoyable interaction just goes to show a couple of minutes can make a difference to someone’s experience.“

“At Churchill Island when I wear the costume and talk to people, this is the kind of thing that we do. Visitors often tell me I look pretty and want to take my photo. It’s different for people to see us dressed in early 1900s clothing, with long skirts and a blouse. This human interaction makes an experience better, whether you’re a local family visiting from Phillip Island, a visitor down for the weekend from Melbourne, or a traveller from overseas. I really feel like I’m making a difference to their experience.”


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Roland Pick – Communications Executive
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