Celebrating our team!

On Monday 18 December we hosted our End of Year Celebration, a fun night where the Association’s board, staff, volunteers, members, and supporters came together to celebrate the year gone by. The evening gathering was located at the Werribee Bowls Club – another club run by volunteers – and complimented by some Celtic folk music, c/o Newport Folk & Fiddle Club.

Between drinks and nibbles, we also gave out awards, recognising our volunteers and staff. Here are some descriptions of those receiving recognition awards at the 2023 End of the Year Celebration night.

Volunteer Acknowledgement Awards:

Miwako Okumura – Community Creator Award

Miwako is a lead volunteer and founder of Eat My Garden, a community space in Point Cook where people can come together to learn to grow vegetables, as well as donate produce on a sharing table.

Miwako’s project is now a part of the Association’s mix of community programs, and we are privileged to have Miwako on board.

Miwako has demonstrated true dedication and community leaderships in growing this space and building up a fabulous community resource.

We encourage everyone to visit Eat My Garden in Point Cook, and to learn from this fabulously inspirational person.

Hamish Dennis and Nella Varcoe – The Power Pair Award

We first met Hamish and Nella when they turned up in May to our pot-luck volunteer week get together and boy are we glad they did!

Passionate about protecting our natural environment, the pair have both the people skills and local ecological knowledge to be incredible educators and leaders for healthy waterways.

They have put in many hours and had hundreds of conversations with the community, volunteering on our info and educational stalls at our inaugural River FEST, the Children’s Week Picnic and the State Rose and Garden Show.

We feel so lucky to be able to collaborate with Hamish and Nella, who are undoubtably such invaluable volunteers for the organisation.

Tamika Jones – The Ultimate Teammate Award

Tamika came on board as an intern with WRA in July and has been a solid member of the team since.

Her impeccable behind the scenes admin on our Catch a Carp Day, which included creating one of the best fishing competition registration documents to be ever seen, ensured the day was a breezy, stress-free success.

She also shared her knowledge and experience of responsible cat ownership thorough a wonderful presentation on how you can be both a cat owner and environment steward (which you can check out on our FB page). This is a particular passion area for her, and we look forward to collaborating more with her as Wyndham reviews its current cat curfew.

She has been incredibly supportive of us all – helping Charlotte with numerous education sessions at schools and kindergartens and helping Maryann get thousands of plants in the ground.

Life has been a breeze with you in it Tamika and we will miss you so much.  But now you’ve become a Werribee local and an environmental science graduate, we can’t wait to see the ways we will continue to work together!

Nyukmei Liu – Community Leader Award

We first met Nyuk at the Climate Youth Summit in April this year. She provided an in-depth information session on what could and couldn’t be recycled in Wyndham. Awe struck by her knowledge, we knew we had to be friends!

As a Point Cook resident, she soon started attending the monthly Love Our Street clean-ups and when coordinator Julie mentioned she’d like some extra help we were thrilled that Nyuk put her hand up. She has since been such a stalwart of the group, coordinating the clean-ups, attending with the gear and morning tea, and helping to promote.

She has also been a regular attendee of our Wyndham Waste Alliance, sharing ideas and inspiration for how we can address the waste crisis. She also managed our War on Waste Space at our River FEST, continuing to be a passionate leader and communicator, helping our local community to care for our local environment and waterways.


Staff Acknowledgement Awards:

Maryann, our Regeneration Officer, who has been a mega star out in the field with plantings and land management, working alongside land managers, volunteers, corporate groups, traditional owners and government agencies. The results are pretty good now, but are going to be super impressive in a few years-time. Maryann, we appreciate all the hours, and hard work that you have put into the role, and we look forward to having you continue to shape further green investments in the catchment.

Charlotte, our Education Manager, who has excelled at delivering high quality educational sessions to all ages from pre-schoolers to adult learners, engaging diverse communities, both in the classroom setting, and out in the field. A year ago, we were not sure about growing our reach into schools. This year, we are sure. You have grown this. You’ve also helped shape up our growing collection of educational resources. You bring warmth and enthusiasm, and we apologise for curbing any of your excitement – because we know you dream big. Please keep it up, keep up your creative suggestions to help us grow.

John, our Riverkeeper, who is so deserving of acknowledgement for his work with the Werribee river Association. It has been over 30 years now. John’s advocacy work is extensive, he participates on multiple networks, and works with a wider cohort of water way advocates, to see changes not only for the Werribee catchment, but for Melbourne metro and the wider Victorian waterways. We can all take a leaf out of John’s book when you want something done – you just do it. Turn up. Commit. Work with others. Support those who are working for the same or similar causes. Share what you’re doing. And keep learning. 30 plus years of collaborations for healthy waterways and for the living entity that the Werribee River is, is deserving of special mention, along with the platypus research report you did this past year, covering the past 25 years of our work in this field too. A huge thank you for teaching us so much.

Lisa, our Community & Business Development Manager, for powering many of our community programs, partnerships and projects to grow the organisation. Since Lisa has joined us there has seen some incredible changes. She has helped shape the overall health of the business, been instrumental in the enviro-hub proposal, in recruiting new staffing, in the daily operations and program planning, in marketing our work, and improving our reputation and reach. Lisa has been instrumental in measuring our value and impact, and in sharing this, and in celebrating our wins. Potential stakeholders, funding providers, and sponsors are seeing this – and we are gaining new supporters.

We thank Lisa for her passion for the community, the environment, and may we continue to leverage these great results with Lisa on board.

Jess, our Sustainability Project Officer, we are truly grateful to you for bringing in many new creative programming elements, culturally diverse facilitators and for the most amazing RiverFEST ever. We thank you for your immersive nature walks, the intergenerational playgroup and for the Deep Time Walks – if you have not done one of them, it is a must! Jess started as a casual with us for a small project, and from there we have keep working on gaining more projects and funding. It really has not been hard to find a project for Jess, as she is highly adaptable, energetic, and competent within both her generalist and environmental engagement skills. Thank you Jess for all your fabulous work this year – and particularly the Association’s inaugural festival – that was truly amazing.

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