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Faces of FOK: Q&A with Heather

What is your FOK Story?   

Well, I retired and went on a big trip. And then when I came back, I realised what I wanted to do more than anything is get trees in the ground. I knew Mark Wilson the Nursery Manager and about the nursery at Friends of the Koala, so I came to volunteer. They desperately needed leafers at the time so I said I would give it a go.

How long ago was that. When did you join? 

I’ve been volunteering with FOK for two years now. I’ve done a bit of work with the other teams but I realized that’s not for me and that what I really enjoyed was planting and working with trees. Trees are what make our country what it is and when you think that a tiny seedling can turn in to a giant, magnificent tree -it’s amazing. I absolutely love it. It’s the biggest and most important thing we can do, planting trees. Trees are going to save us and koalas as well. That’s what I believe.  

What does volunteering with Friends of the Koala mean to you?  

It’s a super important part of my life because I feel very passionate about the environment and I think working here has made that feeling even stronger. I think the thing I would say is I’ve been surprised about how much I’ve got out of it. I love all of the people here that I get to work with. It’s a great place to work. And I think it’s also because everyone here has shared values. I’ve especially enjoyed working with Mark Wilson, who manages the nurseries. The nurseries are a huge success and the number of native trees we plant through the nursery is amazing. Mark can drive throughout the distinct and see the seedlings he planted 30 years ago now huge trees supporting koala populations – it’s just wonderful. I’m now learning all the botanical names and information about trees, all facts that I didn’t know before. I planted trees for years and I knew some of those things but nowhere near as much as I have learned through volunteering with FOK. 

Why do you think that volunteering with any organisation is important? 

 I think that if volunteering wasn’t happening in Australia, our country would come to a standstill. I have to be very thankful to the government for allowing me to do what I do and let me be a volunteer. I just love it. Another bonus is I’ve increased my health and fitness while decreasing my stress levels. That’s all from working here. I often say to my team, it’s time for three hours of aerobic exercise while we do the leafing because it’s completely like doing an aerobics class. It’s not something I even considered that I would get out of volunteering. We always break out in a sweat. You’re outside and you’re working with trees and you’re seeing koalas in the wild. It always gives me pleasure seeing healthy koalas in the wild. I guess that ties into my life, which is why the work that Friends of the Koala does is so important. 

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