2017 with Murrumbidgee Landcare

Here's a reflection as I end 2017 as the Local Landcare Coordinator for the Irrigation areas north and south of the Murrumbidgee River – specifically the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Coleambally Irrigation Area

It’s a region that stretches from Coly up to Rankin Springs, and from Narrandera to somewhere west of Griffith.

Much like you I expect, the start of a new year is greeted with a sense of disbelief and a few of those awkward moments when writing the date requires a correction.

It’s also a time of reflection as I’ve been in this role for less than a year.

My first day with Landcare was spent at the Riverina Field Days in Griffith, where I found familiar faces from my time with the Murrumbidgee CMA as well as an opportunity to hear about the interests of landholders in the region.

It was heartening to hear from those wanting to establish native gardens, as well as those sharing their observations of the native birds they knew from their gardens and farms.

These themes continued when I attended the Henty Field Days more recently.

There in the Landcare shed I hung posters to promote the various groups I support, while taking the opportunity to research ideas from my colleagues and, again, hearing all you switched-on and passionate community members discuss the achievements and challenges across the region.

It really is inspiring to meet and hear your enthusiasm to improve our landscapes.

Another part of my role has been convening the Landcare Irrigation Area Collective, which is an informal gathering held a few times a year where various stakeholders share news of their programs, network and brainstorm ideas based on their shared responsibilities in the region.

Our most recent Collective meeting, for example, revealed many synergies in ideas for programs to develop for the Smart Farming funding round.

It will be exciting to see these come to fruition in 2018.

Another part of my role has been acquitting projects developed by my predecessor Kerri-Anne, including speaking as a sponsor of the Drone and Technology Day held in Yenda. In the picture by Hannah Higgins I am with Regional Landcare Facilitator Julie Bellato.

She ran a couple of well-attended events for World Wetlands Day around Leeton, including attracting over 70 people for a breakfast at Fivebough.http://showcasejase.blogspot.com/2017/10/jewel-of-riverina.html

If you haven’t visited that internationally recognised spot, you’re missing out on seeing the jewel in the Riverina’s crown when it comes to bird-watching.

Kerri-Anne’s background as an educator made it natural to develop programs with schools, however I confess that it left me with some dread when I stepped into the role.

This turned out to be unfounded as my ‘Hollows As Homes’ visits were characterised by exciting conversations with primary school-aged kids, including identifying local bird colonies and emphasising the time required for gums to develop habitat for native fauna.

Another project this year will be workshops to combat Sliverleaf Nightshade, a poisonous weed that poses a threat to livestock.

2018 looks to be another beaut year in the Western Riverina, so keep listening at this time in weeks to come as our plans develop.

And, if you’re short of something to read, have a look at the wonderful newsletters produced by the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists.