Environmental Co-ordinator / Indigenous Education Resource Officer, Tatachilla Lutheran College
Author: Sofie Amos
Ever since I can remember, mum has been educating herself about the environment, and acting on the things she learned. We used to tease mum for recycling everything! At a time when most families barely had a recycling bin, we had a chook scraps bucket, a worm food bucket, a compost bucket, a cardboard and paper recycling bin, a metal recycling bin, a plastics recycling bin, a milk carton recycling bin, and an old plastic milk bottle to collect bottle lids in.
Weekends were spent in the garden at our place and much of mum and dad’s time was spent working on developing a ‘sustainable’ home and looking after the heritage-listed remnant bushland that was attached to the house block. Mum rescued native wildlife, and it wasn't uncommon for us to have joeys, possums, or native birds sharing our home.
Her passion for living sustainably, her ethos of embracing education in conservation and her belief that environmental education is fundamental to the future of our world, led her to her work at Tatachilla Lutheran College, where she is generally known as Ranger D. Mum has played an important role in the establishment of the EcoClassroom; a unique education facility, modelled on pre-European colonisation ecosystems and landscapes. The EcoClassroom is an award winning, outdoor Learning Centre where the students, local and wider community learn about the environment, sustainability and conservation through engaging, hands-on and interactive activities. Officially opened in 2000, the EcoClassroom has become a sanctuary for many species of resident and migratory native animals, including the critically endangered Brush-tailed Bettong.
Mum also specialises in the traditional use of plants by the First Australians and, working with the Aboriginal community, has consulted on a number of native garden designs. She has immersed herself in Australia's cultural and environmental heritage and volunteered many hours in sustainable, cultural and conservation related projects. She recently took part in a Simpson Desert camel trek, assisting in fauna and flora surveys and the sighting and recording of Aboriginal artefacts.
Mum's enormous depth of knowledge and passion for the environment has enthused me to study Biodiversity and Conservation at Flinders University. She is an incredible role model. Her will to achieve and work hard is inspiring. I often come across mum's old students from Tatachilla Lutheran College and they speak incredibly fondly of her, and tell me that her patience and passion for the environment is the reason that they are studying conservation and environmental perspectives.
I am incredibly thankful that my children have mum as a role model and, for the time she spends teaching them about sustainability and the environment. One of their favourite things to do is to be "nature trackers" with Oma Lola, where they explore in the heritage scrub block, and she teaches them about all of the things that they find. Mum's knowledge in these areas is incredible, but her dedication to conservation, the environment, and Australia's heritage, and her willingness to share this knowledge and passion is what makes her such an inspiration to so many people.