THE Upper Hunter has netted itself a keen environmentalist in Ellie Gillett, the progressive new Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) project officer.
Ms Gillett, 22, is also the proud president of Hunter Intrepid Landcare, an organisation she describes as a “roaming Landcare group for the youth of the Hunter region” that assists various environmental groups and initiatives.
Some of her aims as CVA project officer are to start to change people’s attitudes towards conservation and the perception of volunteering, and to try to prove how volunteering with CVA is a rewarding outdoor experience.
“Just because we’re surrounded by mines doesn’t mean we can’t do small things to help change the environment,” Ms Gillett said.
“I want to encourage young people to respect the environment, get outdoors and off their phones.”
A simple initiative along that line of thought is Saturday’s free pallet garden demonstration.
Ms Gillett will show people how to reuse and upcycle waste materials, pallet garden design and construction as well as see propagation, planting and maintenance.
The session will take place from 9am at the Muswellbrook Sustainability Hub, next to the Girl Guides Hall on Wilkinson Avenue, one of her many outdoor offices where she spends a lot of time with Muswellbrook Community Gardeners and Landcare groups.
Ms Gillett started work in August, taking over from John “Jack” Kensey.
She works closely with Hunter Region Landcare network coordinator Nicholas Alexander, collaborating on environmental projects, and also works with council’s sustainability team, as well as Landcare groups including Muscle Creek and McCullys Gap.
“There’s potential to achieve a lot of different things around here and I’m trying to do things differently,” she said.
Ms Gillett was born in Parkes but grew up on a horse property near Clarence Town in the Lower Hunter.
Asked what sparked her interest in the environment she said if she ever complained of being bored, her father would send her off with a hessian bag to pick fire weed out of the paddocks until she wasn’t bored anymore.
She has completed a Bachelor of Sustainability, dealing with environmental governance and regulation, and hopes to get into policy someday.
“I’d like to have a go at changing environmental policy, I really want to make a difference, share my opinion and listen to the community and share their voice too,” she said.
Ms Gillett has been busy collecting and planting native seeds and her next few projects include planting native trees, shrubs and grasses in local parks next autumn, as well as tree planting for dam rehabilitation.
At The Hub, the community garden group has created and planted out wicking beds as a drought tolerance experiment, while other groups plan to set up bush tucker gardens.
“The Hub is about getting people involved and engaged, I’d love to see more groups involved and also to expand the nursery.”