By Callum Ludwig
A young conservationist has been recognised for her efforts to bring a youthful influence into the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater (FoHH) group.
FoHH Committee Member and Youth Reference Group Convenor Amy Gregorovich has been nominated as a finalist for the Young Volunteer Award of the 2023 Victorian Volunteering Awards.
Ms Gregorovich said it’s very exciting and it’s always nice to be recognised for the hidden volunteer work that people do.
“I had a look at the other nominees who have been shortlisted as finalists and it’s incredible to be a part of a cohort doing such amazing work,” she said.
“I joined the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater as a volunteer about five years ago, I was studying environmental science at the time and was looking for an opportunity to get some skills within the field and I have stayed on because I love the people and I love the work that we do.”
Ms Gregorovich was appointed to the FOHH Committee of Management in 2020 and has since become involved in the running of the organisation, the citizen science surveys, writing grant applications and running the group’s social media presence.
Ms Gregorovich said at the moment, her focus is the Youth Reference Group.
“I convene the group, which runs activities for people aged between 18 and 30 for them to participate in, it adds to the efforts of the group in ways that support their very busy lifestyles and gives them an opportunity to gain transferable skills,” she said.
“We’ve continued those programs and we’re always getting great feedback on the activities we’re running and how they’re designed to meet the needs of young people, for example, we don’t always have them at strict times during the week and people can come and go, they don’t have to commit on a regular basis,” she said.
“I find it incredibly rewarding to host those opportunities and work with other young people.”
The Youth Reference Group was formed in 2022 and has gone on to conduct citizen science surveys, frog surveys with Melbourne Water, adaptive planning workshops with Parks Victoria, wetland ecology surveys with researchers from the University of Melbourne and more.
Ms Gregorovich said they were hoping to provide opportunities for tertiary students in the environmental science space to get their work experience after studying online during lockdowns.
“The interest in the program really shocked me, we had about 66 expressions of interest in four days before we had to close the expressions of interest and it was really exciting to see that there was a real demand for those opportunities that were designed by and for young people,” she said.
“70 young people participated in the following three workshops that were focused on various aspects of conservation and environmental management, and it was really exciting hearing from other young people about how nice it was to get out into nature, to be learning from some experts in the field and networking with people who are also within the early stages of their career.”
28 individuals and 24 organisations were nominated as finalists for the awards across eight categories, with one individual and one organisation also set to take out the tile of the Premier’s Volunteer Champions of the year when the awards function is held at Government House on Tuesday 27 February.
Ms Gregorovich said she thinks encouraging volunteering is incredibly important.
Volunteering is a pivotal part of our society, especially in our current society with all of the issues going on at the moment and I think it’s a really meaningful opportunity for people to get out and about, be a part of their community and create meaningful change,” she said.
“It’s a great two-way relationship and you’re able to build skills and relationships while you give back to the issues that you’re passionate about.”