Drill with navy cadets
Performing drill with the Australian Navy Cadets

Fishing workshops, bird identification seminars and a drill lesson with Broome’s Australian Navy Cadets were all part of the program for participants in the fifth annual Kimberley Bush Rangers Conference last weekend.

The professional development weekend offered Kimberley teachers, education assistants and volunteers involved in Parks and Wildlife’s Bush Rangers WA cadet program an opportunity to network and share ideas whilst planning the coming year’s activities for their cadets.

Parks and Wildlife’s Kimberley Bush Rangers Coordinator, Sally Johnston, said over half of this year’s conference participants were new to the program.

“We hold this event at the start of the school year to provide an induction to new staff,” said Ms Johnston. “It’s great to see new participants gain the confidence and enthusiasm to go back and start running new projects in their local communities.”

“Projects carried out by Kimberley Bush Ranger units in 2014 include entering Keep Australia Beautiful’s Tidy Towns competition, running a crocodile education campaign in Broome, building and installing picnic benches for the Joon Joo Botanical Trail near Derby, and volunteering with Parks and Wildlife staff on a variety of fauna monitoring surveys.”

Turtle workshop
Learning about volunteer turtle monitoring
opportunities with Parks and Wildlife Marine
Interpretation Officer Sara McAllister

“With more than than 200 Bush Rangers enrolled across the Kimberley, and over 80% of these cadets identifying as Aboriginal, the program provides a great opportunity to engage with teenagers interested in a career as a ranger. Four staff members in our Kununurra office alone joined Parks and Wildlife following their involvement as Bush Rangers. With an increasing number of Kimberley parks now jointly managed with traditional owners, it’s great that we can identify potential rangers early on and equip them with the skills and experience to become our next generation of land managers.”

Visiting the Kimberley for the first time, Parks and Wildlife Bush Rangers State Coordinator, Richard Olive, was keen to learn from the eight Kimberley schools involved in the program.

“The conference was a huge benefit for me. Every Bush Rangers unit is different and being able to meet Unit Leaders from places I would never have the opportunity to visit was invaluable.”

Bush Rangers is a voluntary conservation and community development program for high school students, offered in around 60 Western Australian schools. One of 10 CadetsWA programs funded by the Department of Local Government and Communities, Bush Rangers offers activities that develop skills and knowledge in teamwork, initiative, leadership and environmental conservation.”

Kimberley Bush Ranger units will meet again later in the year for their annual Kimberley Bush Rangers Region Camp, to be held in the East Kimberley in August.