It give me great pleasure to introduce you to Art4agriculture’s latest Young Eco Champion
This is the Renae Riviere story………
My name is Renae. I’ve only got little feet, but I’ve walked a lot of miles in the Australian bush and I’ve paddled a lot of rivers. My favourite river to paddle is the Franklin River in Tasmania. It is a pristine and genuine wilderness area and one of my dreams is for it to be like that forever.
You can spend ten days travelling down it and not see another soul except your paddling mates. Then you merge with the Gordon River to the place where the Blockade took place and you imagine what it was like to be there – and you quietly thank the people who cared enough to stand up, fight and win, so that those of us who are adventurous enough can see and enjoy it for ourselves and those that aren’t can just rest happily knowing that it is there.
Me on the Franklin River
I grew up in the Victorian town of Bannockburn; back then it was a town where everyone knew everyone and in the holidays and on weekends the kids would all head out to play after breaky and not come home until sunset. Our parents didn’t worry because they knew if we were being naughty or hurt ourselves they would find out from someone else in the community before we got home anyway.
Most Saturdays our family would pack the kids up and we would meet our friends and their families out in “the bush”. First thing the kids would do is get the bikes out and take off and make jumps and race around the dirt tracks; we’d only come back when the BBQ was cooked. Then we’d take off again.
Me on my bike at Teesdale
The Dog Rocks – This is the landscape I grew up in
Me and my bro building a cubby
My friend Lisa and I hanging out with a koala that called our front yard home for a few months one summer
Fishing at Rocklands on a camping trip
In high school my friends and I thought we were going to save the world – we formed a group and called ourselves Students Against World Destruction (SAWD); we screen printed our own t-shirts, we washed cars to raise money for Greenpeace to Save the Whales, we held screenings of documentaries on the whale slaughter, we went and planted shelter belts on local farms and we went out weeding in the You Yangs. The teacher who inspired us and helped us organise our trips was unwavering in his support and that is something I really appreciate to this day. I think empowering young people to feel like they can and are making a difference is worth more than gold. ( we are with you on that one Renae)
I left school and went onto study a Diploma in Outdoor Leadership (Recreation) at TAFE in the small town of Eildon in Victoria. Eildon is a pretty tiny town right at the base of a huge dam – everyone knew everyone and there was never a shortage of people to go on an adventure with. It was here that my already adventurous spirit and passion for the environment was really nurtured. “Study” for us mostly involved going white water rafting, bush walking, canoeing and rock climbing. After the first year we were qualified enough to take groups of school students out on their High School Outdoor Education trips; anything from 3 to 10 days of walking, paddling, climbing and camping. This is where I learned the power of our natural environment as a teaching and learning tool.
I spent 6 years in this role educating kids in the bush; which pretty much equates to 6 years living in a tent. I learnt a lot about myself and about people in general during this time. Kids usually reject the bush at first, but after a day or so they start to get into its rhythm and really start to make a connection with it; they usually leave a little bit quieter than when they came.
My buddy Chris and I taking a bunch of kids on off the beaten track on a 9 day expedition out past the Larapinta Trail in NT. (Ridiculous hats were a must!)
Henry and I took a group of uni students from the states on a trip out to Fraser Island in QLD.
Somewhere in the middle here I moved to the Blue Mountains and then to Wollongong’s northern suburbs and upon arriving in Wollongong I decided that this was my home from now on. I absolutely love it here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Did I mention that I love to snowboard?? Well I do! So after living in a tent for 6 years I went to live in Japan for 1 year. I spent 6 months snowboarding in Hokkaido and the rest of the time teaching English on the island of Shikoku. I absolutely love the culture of Japan and how incredibly different it is to ours. I guess when I went there I thought (like most people do) that Japan is all cities, but it’s not; there are some really amazing wild areas there and I loved exploring them.
Iya Valley, Japan
Oh, and the snow was AWESOME!
My first day snowboarding in Japan
Early morning chair lift to the summit for fresh powder!
After Japan, I came back to work in Outdoor and Environmental Education on the South Coast for a few years and whilst I loved it still, I felt like I needed to unpack my bags and put the tent away for a while. I tried various things; working at TAFE, driving a community bus, working in Out of School Care, having extended holidays and then I landed a job at Conservation Volunteers Australia.
CVA is Australasia’s largest practical conservation organisation; with 21 offices in Australia and 4 in NZ and after holding almost every role that the office has to offer, 4 years later I am now the Regional Manager of the Illawarra/Shoalhaven Office.
What I love about my job is that I feel like I get to roll all of my work experiences into one here; I get to work in my local community with people from all ages and walks of life, I get to educate people on the importance of conserving our natural assets and I get to empower them to act.
My role has a bit of everything in it; I manage staff, projects, budgets and the day to day operation of our office. I apply for funding, and I am always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to get people involved in our projects. I work with a variety of land managers; helping them to achieve their environmental goals. I also have the opportunity to dream up my own projects and seek out funding to make them happen. I get out in to the field leading the team of volunteers at our Tom Thumb Lagoon project and our student volunteer program once a week too.
There’s other perks to my job too! Working with CVA gave me the amazing opportunity to take a group of volunteers to Turkey to work at and be part of the ANZAC commemorative services at Gallipoli this year, which was the opportunity of a lifetime.
Me at Walkers Ridge above ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli
I made friends with some local war heroes.
Ate LOADS of my favourite sweets
And learnt a bit about ancient history. This is an old school athletics track!
The other thing I really enjoy is a good road trip and big vast landscapes; I love heading to places where after an hour or so, you have red dust through everything; it’s coming out the air vents in the car, it’s up your nose, your clothes are dirty…it really reminds me of where I come from and what an incredible country we have.
I like to sit and look out and see land and oceans that go forever and I want to make sure that they are healthy and here for everyone to enjoy. Forever.
The road to Ilfracombe – outback QLD
On my way to check out the Barcaldine Nature trail – outback QLD
Checking out the view from the dinosaur dig near Winton – Outback QLD
On the way to the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan.
We at Art4Agriculture are thrilled to be able to offer Renae many more opportunities to realise her dreams