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Faces of FOK: Q&A with Gianna

What is your FOK story? When did you join and why?
I first discovered Friends of the Koala in 2018 when I was looking for somewhere to complete my 12 weeks of practical experience as part of my Bachelor of Animal Science. I first completed a total of four weeks in 2018 and another eight weeks in 2019/2020 where I was at the centre five days a week morning and afternoon. When I finished my eight weeks in early 2020, I stayed on as a regular volunteer and have been here ever since.

What roles have you been in during your time at FOK?
While I was here for my practical experience I was able to participate in many different aspects of koala care including the regular care shifts in the mornings and afternoons which involved cleaning runs and administering treatments and supplements to the koalas. I was also able to help with rescues and releases as well as accompanying Marley, our vet nurse, and Susannah, who was Care Coordinator at the time, to the vet and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

When my practical experience was over, I continued here as a regular volunteer for one day a week and later became the supervisor for Friday afternoons.

I have recently become the Administration Assistant at Burribi and work in the office here at Friends of the Koala Monday to Friday morning while on Friday afternoon I still volunteer.

What has been your biggest achievement/special memory during your time volunteering?
I believe that I was really lucky to be able to complete my practical experience here for 12 weeks everyday as it allowed me to experience many different things. I cannot pinpoint any specific achievements or memories, but I have really enjoyed working closely with the vet team, especially Marley before we were a hospital and had vets on-site, taking the koalas to Keen St Vet and learning so much about koala health.

How has volunteering impacted you?
Before I started volunteering here, I hadn’t really thought too deeply about the plight of the koalas. I knew that their populations were threatened by deforestation and land clearing, but I didn’t realise how this also impacted their health regarding the transmission of chlamydia and complications from koala retrovirus. It really emphasised to me the relationship and impact that we have on wildlife and not just what is directly in our face but also all the ripple effects that we create when we clear the land.