Unique conservation course provides First Nations students with skills to work on and heal Country
The next generation of First Nations conservation leaders and land managers will be celebrated this week in Melbourne.
Seven students from the Warreen Beek Ranger program will graduate in a ceremony at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne on Wurundjeri and Bunurong Country on 15 December.
The Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management, now in its sixth year, provides conservation training and accreditation for Traditional Owners. Developed with Traditional Owners, the course is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and is largely completed on Country with many Elders and experts helping to teach the units.
It is coordinated by Trust for Nature in collaboration with Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Wurundjeri Narrap Rangers, accredited through Holmesglen Institute of TAFE and supported by the Port Phillip Bay Fund.
In 2023 students learned skills in cultural burning, water management, OHS, weed control, midden protection, chainsaw use, plant identification, growing bush foods and threatened species management.
Torres Strait Islander student Hudson Fraser said he enjoyed everything about the course, particularly field trips to undertake cultural burning at Coranderrk and monitoring the Little Penguin colony at St Kilda.
“In year 12 I discovered a love for plants and the environment and a teacher sent me a link to this course. The amount of knowledge I’ve learned in just a year is unreal.”
“I’d urge anyone who is even considering doing something like this to do it because it’s an amazing experience,” Hudson said.
“The learnings and experiences on this course are unlike anything else available in the training sector,” said Corinne Proske, Trust for Nature CEO.
“It gives students the opportunity to learn from Elders and ecologists as well as to share what they know with the private landholders on whose land they do practical learning on. Teaching and learning alongside Traditional Custodians and Owners is vitally important for two-way knowledge sharing.”
“We wish the seven students that graduate this year all the very best in their chosen careers, and we look forward to welcoming a new class in 2024.”
The course is supported by the Victorian Government, with additional support from the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Wurundjeri Narrap Rangers, Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, Holmesglen Institute, Yarra Valley Water, Perpetual Trustees, the Hamer Family Fund, and Trust for Nature.
Trust for Nature is one of Australia’s oldest conservation organisations, established to protect habitat on private land. It relies on the generosity of supporters to help protect Victoria’s biodiversity. Trust for Nature acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.
James Whitmore, Communications coordinator, Trust for Nature – firstname.lastname@example.org, 0450 653 811