Face to Camera

This week all our Young Eco Champions and some of our Young Farming Champions came to the farm for another workshop


The superstar attendees

Once again we hired the stunning Glenn Murcutt  house on the farm and when the 43 degree heat hit we were certainly able to test out how well he had designed the ventilation. We were pretty impressed Glenn

Murcutt House Jamberoo

Wow you don’t see houses like this on your average dairy farm

Murcutt House

Victoria Taylor kicked off the weekend with a session for the team on writing scholarship applications and CV’s and job interview techniques. Our YEC’s and YFC all want to be in positions of influence sooner rather than later and we are determined to help them get there.

YEC_YFC W'shop Pres Jan 13

Heather for example has her eye on Tony Burke’s job and she is off to DAFF to help fast track this. Whilst I don’t think Tony Burke has anything to worry about just yet but a few years down the track I would be surprised if Heather makes her move


Heather (right) being interviewed by Tara

One of the highlights of the weekend was a number of sessions on working in front of the camera

– Camera techniques, skills and spills

– presenter techniques

– interviewee techniques

– unprepared speeches / responses

– writing your own script

– stuff you know – prepared speeches without sounding prepared

We were lucky enough to have our professional videographer Lance on hand to work with NIDA trained director Annie too provide practical applications in front of the camera


Lance checks the lighting

As you know one of the highlights of the Archibull Prize is visiting the schools and meeting the teachers and students. Over the past couple of years we have identified a number of superstar students and we invited two of them to the workshop to interview each of the YFC’s and YEC’s on camera.



Getting up close and personal with the baby calves

Just to you show the talent of the students and one of our team. Tara hams it up with a South Carolina drawl in this interview with Heather who amazingly managed not to crack up. Check it out and remember Tara is only 16 and what’s to be a burns specialist. I don’t know I can see her just maybe taking over from Carrie Bickmore one day

Such talent I so enjoyed my three days with these wonderful young people

The art of gentle persuasion

Thanks to Caring for Our Country funding we will be rolling out the Young Eco Champions program in 2013. As part of their roll the Young Eco Champions will go into schools with Young Farming Champions as part of the Archibull Prize in Southern NSW.

Each Young Eco Champion will also pair with a farmer and work on a Natural Resource Management (NRM) Project together.

Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt has already sunk her teeth into hers   

Megan starts her journey for you here …….


Not only is Megan a YEC she is also the National Young Landcarer of the Year


Educating landholders about the importance of our native vegetation is one thing, getting them to adopt sustainable management practices and applying this knowledge to the way they use the land is another.

Most landholders and farmers care for the land and the environment. They want the best outcomes for the natural environment as well as the best productivity outcomes for their land. Achieving both can sometimes be a challenge and often the environmental outcomes are secondary to productivity outcomes.

Megan and Marcus Clover Hill Project  (12)

At present, the landholder has attempted to control Lantana and Wild tobacco through slashing and then piling debris within the vegetation, hoping for it to mulch down.

Being involved in the Young Eco Champions (YEC) program, I am able to connect with landholders and other NRM professionals to work towards establishing the best management practices for landholders and their needs on their properties.

By developing practical and realistic plans in consultation with a range of stakeholders, we aim to work towards achieving the best outcomes for the environment as well as the landholder.

Here in the Illawarra, much of our vegetation has become fragmented and is isolated. Clearing activities over time from the early years of the Red Cedar loggers throughout the 1800’s and then for the agricultural industry,  high conservation value vegetation such as our Rainforest and Woodland, is now in many areas of our region, restricted to the escarpments and steep foothill areas which were in the past deemed unproductive due to their inaccessibility to farmers, or exists in small isolated patches across the landscape locked up on private property.


Cedar loggers cleared many of the trees in the Illawarra in the early 1800’s

Much of the remnants have become weed infested due to the disturbance and also due to bird drop and wind-blown seed from surrounding weed infested areas.

Our region boasts some of the best prime agricultural real estate in the country and I am really passionate about seeing this industry supported into the future and working together to get the best outcomes for the landscape and these landcarers – because really our farmers are the carers of the largest areas of land, and are the producers of our food for the future.  


The dairy industry is now the main agricultural industry and trees are very important for shelter

Fortunately many landholders in our region realise the value in preserving and attempting to rehabilitate natural areas. Benefits to water quality, and shelter for cattle are important issues to farmers, and eliminating threats of noxious, Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) and other environmental weeds from the landscape are also a concern. Sometimes they just sometimes need a little bit of assistance and guidance.

I recently visited my first property I will be working on as a YEC with an experienced Bush Regenerator in prime coastal Dairy country – Jamberoo NSW. Here the rainfall is high, soil fertility is good and the climate is great almost year round. This means perfect conditions for weeds to thrive!

Our project will be looking to rehabilitate two island remnants of rainforest vegetation which sits in open grazing paddock. Although the vegetation is isolated, it is important shelter for cattle, and will also provide refuge for native wildlife travelling through nearby intact rainforest corridors.

At present, the landholder has attempted to control Lantana and Wild tobacco through slashing and then piling debris within the vegetation, hoping for it to mulch down.

Megan and Marcus Clover Hill Project  (2)

Megan and Bush Regenerator Marcus review the site for Megan’s project

Unfortunately this is suppressing any natural regeneration from occurring and opening up the vegetation edges to further weed infestations due to the high level of disturbance. Secondary weeds such as Cape Ivy, Bidens and Mist Flower are also now present and add to the difficulty in managing the vegetation. Although there is a high level of degradation, there is some good stuff in there too!

Our bush regenerator has developed a strategy for rehabilitating the remnants and we will be working in partnership with Landcare Illawarra to source appropriate tubestock for planting projects once the weeds are removed and we can establish where any natural regeneration is occurring. I am excited to be able to have discussions with the landholder and negotiate some control techniques and behavioural changes that will still allow for productive use of the landscape, but not impact on the vegetation and bush regeneration that will be occurring on this site.

Watch this space for updates on our progress!  

Vote 1 Megan Rowlatt for People’s Choice Award


megan rowlatt


We love to skite about all the exciting young people we know and we are shouting Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt’s exceptional talents from the rooftops. Megan is one of 88 finalists in the National Landcare Awards to be announced in Sydney on 4th September, 2012. She has been nominated for a National Landcare Award for her outstanding achievements in recruiting young people to the Landcare movement by founding the Illawarra Youth Landcare group.


Join us in voting for her in the People’s Choice Award here


You don’t have to take our word for it you can see for yourself what a superstar she is here


and here


This is the blurb from here profile for the National Landcare Awards ……….

In 2009 Megan saw there was a need to engage more youth into Landcare activities in the area. With many Landcare and Bushcare groups having a much older membership and few recruitment efforts, she worked towards establishing a Landcare group exclusively for young people.

Much of Megan’s success comes from her constant efforts to attract attention to the group and keep volunteers engaged and learning about local Landcare issues. Many of the volunteers come into the group with no prior knowledge about natural area restoration, and Megan works alongside these volunteers to teach them the techniques and skills they need. If certain skills are beyond her knowledge or expertise, she engages other local experts in the community to teach the young volunteers about the issues of interest and sources projects which would provide a valuable opportunity for young inexperienced volunteers to increase their skills in Landcare activities.

Megan has also achieved great success in communicating and promoting the group through media and at events. Not only has she organised the group’s website and social media pages, but she has engaged a range of local and high-profile media to write stories about the group, and has worked with the young volunteers to create training DVDs which allow others who are interested in bush regeneration to develop some basic knowledge in weed removal techniques.

In order to retain existing volunteers and attract new ones, Megan has a number of exciting projects planned. Connections with adventure conservation groups such as Willow Warriors allow for weekend camping expeditions outside the region and a number of paddling projects have been planned for the warmer months. She is currently in the planning stages of a City Meets Country Landcare Expedition, which will see a team of city volunteers stay on an active farm and learn about how the farm works and the environmental issues the landholder has to deal with. She is also planning on creating a documentary with some volunteers from the group, which will delve into why young people are involved in Landcare in the Illawarra region and what some of the environmental issues facing the region are.

Megan is one of 88 finalists in the National Landcare Awards to be announced in Sydney on 4th September, 2012. Commencing in 1991, the Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and groups that make a valuable contribution to the land and coast where they live and work.