CERES Education Interview with Jim Mead
School Programs Coordinator, Greening Australia
1. How did you first get started with environmental education?
I think my first connection with the environment was made for me at a very young age. Growing up in Adelaide, our holidays involved staying on the farms of family and friends in different areas of the state. My uncle was propagating indigenous plants and revegetating his paddocks in the early 1970’s before Landcare became an official movement in the 1980’s, and I guess that rubbed off on me. I lived in the foothills of Adelaide and spent many weekends with my brothers and sisters exploring the local creeks and parks. We also spent time down on the Fleurieau Peninsula which is another beautiful natural area of SA. I worked as an outdoor education teacher in SA and Canada and got my start in Environmental Education working for Melbourne Water as an education officer at Werribee in 2005 and then later that year, as Landcare Education officer with DPI at the Creswick Landcare Centre. I worked as a CERES facilitator in the Grampians Region at that time and worked closely with the LandLearn team at DPI until 2010. I then moved to Sustainability Victoria for 6 months and have been at Greening Australia for 3 and a half years.
2. What have been the biggest highlights of your journey so far?
Running the Toolbox forums have been great the last 4 years as I get to gather together lots of the great people I have worked with in environmental education in one spot for a fantastic day of networking, sharing ideas and resources and learning about new approaches to EfS. I find the people I have met in the environmental education field to be really inspiring, so that has been a great highlight, to meet them and work with them.
3. What has been the biggest obstacle? How did you/are you overcoming it?
The current political situation in Australia and resulting budget constraints make it difficult to access funding for environmental NGOs. I am trying to overcome this by seeking out new partners in local government, in the philanthropy sector and in the corporate world. Another difficult obstacle is coming across people who still want to debate if Climate Change is actually occurring. Most of the world’s scientists in the climate field agree that it is, so further debate is just wasting time to take action. Pointing them towards scientific studies on Climate Change is the best way to overcome that obstacle, or pointing out that even if they don’t acknowledge the science, doing good things for the earth is of benefit to their well being anyway.
4. What future plans or goals are you excited about?
I am currently working with Brunswick Secondary College to train their outdoor education students doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award to help lead environmental education activities at our Greening Australia revegetation days. The students will be leading primary school students through revegetation activities, insect collection and ID, Waterwatch activities and cooking with Trangias. The leadership skills these students have been developing in our practice sessions have been fantastic and I’m excited about watching them mentor younger students later in the year.
5. What advice would you offer to someone wanting to begin a sustainability program at their school or organisation?
From little things, big things grow. Bite off a small chunk first with a small team, have success, involve the school leadership so that Sustainability becomes a part of the fabric of the school. The great CERES facilitators can really help you out along the way, so don’t walk alone.
CERES Education would like to thank Jim for sharing his story.
Find out how Greening Australia are helping schools with Sustainability – http://dev.sustainability.ceres.org.au/groups/greening-australia/
For more information visit the Greening Australia website