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International Volunteer Day 2023

Volunteer with Koalas

5 December is International Volunteer Day, this year the theme is “if everyone did…” which centers on the power of collective action. You can read more about it on the UN Volunteers website.

We here at Friends of the Koala completely understand the importance of volunteering and need no convincing. We are a volunteer-led organisation with over 240 active volunteers. Most of our volunteers are home-grown but we do get our fair share of international volunteers, mostly due to our association with the Southern Cross University.

Collectively, our volunteers contributed 75,500 volunteer hours to the value of $3,245,240 in the last financial year – which is incredible and we are so proud of them and their contribution.

Daria and Finley

We love to host international volunteers at Friends of the Koala. Here are Daria and Finley who are (sadly) finishing up with us this month. Our international students are usually studying conservation and animal programs and volunteer with us for at least four weeks with five rosters per week. They get trained in Koala Care and work at the Burribi Centre during their time with us. We (and our koalas) are going to miss Daria and Finley very much!

Daria and Finley our International Volunteers

Daria is an international student from the United States, and she has been studying sustainability and environmental action in Australia since November 2023. For the past four weeks, Daria has been volunteering with Friends of the Koala and studying how we help koalas and support their populations while encouraging community support.

Daria interviews Lola Whitney

Dara and Lola Whitney

Daria recently interviewed one of the first Friends of the Koala volunteers – Lola Whitney – to learn more about the early days of Friends of the Koala and how we got to where we are today.

Lola relayed stories about the beginnings of Friends of the Koala and how it was founded with just a few volunteers. How, there were no vets or paid staff members and, back then, Friends of the Koala volunteers, drove rescued koalas to Australia Zoo, where they were assessed, treated and brought back again.

Lola also explained that the clinic was the first building constructed at Friends of the Koala, followed by the Burribi Education Centre and that education has always been and important aspect of what we do. Lola believes educating people, especially kids, on the issues that koalas face, will prepare them to look after them.

Daria said she enjoyed interviewing Lola. She has put and continues to put, so much love and care into Friends of the Koala and is an extremely valued member of the organisation. So has Daria, we will miss her when she returns to California!

Our Japanese students from Kansai University

Our Japanese volunteers are here on an exchange from Kansai University, studying with Southern Cross University, they volunteer one roster per week with Friends of the Koala. So far this group has been cleaning up the Burribi grounds and planted trees in the area. Volunteering with us also supports their learning of the English language.

The benefits of volunteerism are many and bi-directional – our volunteers learn about our beautiful koalas, their habitat and the Australian culture. Volunteers are, of course, vital for our organisation. Hosting international volunteers spreads our message globally. Often life-long friendships are made through a common goal of saving koalas from extinction.

If you would like to visit Australia and volunteer to work with koalas, please apply here – we would love to hear from you!

There are many ways to help Friends of the Koala to save more koalas volunteering is one as well as becoming a member, leaving a bequest, adopting a tree or adopting a koala. You can also help us by reporting any koala sightings which gives us a better picture of koalas in the Northern Rivers.

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