What is WIL and why is it important to EcoNetwork?
By Alison Rogers, EcoNetwork committee member.
Update September 2023
EcoNetwork is excited to welcome Courtney Kelly who has joined EcoNetwork as part of the WIL program. Courtney will be working with the Friends of Tomaree National Park as well as supporting the executive committee with the community forum and Sustainable Living Festival. We look forward to updating you on her work experience journey but for now, over to Courtney to introduce herself:
‘I’m Courtney Kelly, a 22-year-old student, studying Environmental Science and Management at the University of Newcastle, with a major in Natural Hazards and Resources. Growing up in a small regional town instilled the beauty of the Australian landscape in me from a young age, providing me with a close connection to the environment and desire to find a career in conservation. I would love to be able to contribute to the growth of sustainable communities to safeguard our environment. I am full of excitement at the prospect of helping contribute to the diverse projects facilitated by EcoNetwork and its affiliates, as well as to learn about the various perspectives and approaches to environmental management. I am open to embrace a broad spectrum of opportunities to gain valuable experience in as many areas as I can. Alongside my passion for environmental science, I enjoy photography and creative pursuits. I am enthusiastic to undertake this placement and its opportunity to gain real world experience, while connecting me to a valuable network of like-minded individuals dedicated to the cause of environmental preservation.’
The University of Newcastle’s Work Integrated Learning Program (WIL) aims to give students real on-the-job experience. EcoNetwork has had positive experiences working with students from the University. In 2019 we collaborated with the School of Surveying where students were offered the opportunity to prepare maps of the Mambo-Wanda Wetlands as a final year project. The maps, produced by Brae Dare, are currently being used to lobby for the wetlands to be listed as a rare and unique ecosystem under the Ramsar Convention. In 2022, EcoNetwork also worked with students from the Marketing Research department and the Digital Marketing and Social Media departments. These students and their lecturers contributed their expertise by supporting the Sustainable Futures Festival and producing detailed results of the festival evaluation.
In January 2023, I re-initiated a discussion with the University of Newcastle regarding WIL. We then invited EcoNetwork affiliates to provide suitable project proposals for consideration that might benefit from student support. I summarised these available opportunities and presented them to the School of Environmental Science and Management. The presentation was also forwarded to the School of Development Studies and other relevant departments.
Opportunities presented included:
- researching the cumulative impact of sandmining and quarrying in Port Stephens in conjunction with TRRA (Tomaree Ratepayers & Residents Association) and VoWW (Voice of Wallalong/Woodville);
- continuing to pursue RAMSAR listing for Mambo-Wanda Wetlands;
- collaborating with the Pindimar/Bundabah Community Association on a range of initiatives;
- documenting traditional Aboriginal knowledge on Worimi country and
- investigating the feasibility of creating a sustainable neighbourhoods program in collaboration with the Hunter Region Branch of Renew.
EcoNetwork is always keen to seek out opportunities to work with young people. Some of the benefits may include energising our initiatives with dynamic, new, innovative and youthful ideas. It is also about accessing the latest research while supporting the next generation of people who are going to be advocating for the environment.
Stay tuned to EcoUpdate for more information about students who apply and the process we will undertake to match the skills and interest with the projects available. We look forward to sharing some great news about the contributions the University makes towards supporting the goals of EcoNetwork affiliates.