Guyra’s very own David Attenborough – Bec Smith has dedicated much of her life to teaching local youth about the environment.
And now she’s been recognised for her hard work with the Southern New England Landcare Individual Landcarer Award.
Her love affair with the science of the environment started at a young age.
“I grew up on a property in South Australia and we’d go walking in the bush and I always felt very aligned with the landscape and animals,” she said.
“I became really intrigued with wildlife through David Attenborough and it captured me that there’s so much biodiversity on the planet.
“So I went through university and did biology and a science degree which kept me intrigued.
“I guess teaching became another way of going further into my passion.”
The Landcare accolade acknowledges people who are actively involved in landcare activities throughout the community – and who engage others to take part.
“It’s nice to try and connect kids with their landscape and make them aware of what the issues are,” she said.
Ms Smith has always been involved with environmental education in both schools she has worked in.
Initially she was the environmental education coordinator at Guyra Central School before moving to a similar role at Armidale High School.
“I was actively involved in kids doing conferences that looked at being more energy conscious, waste and water conscious,” she said.
Sustainable farming has also been another passion for the environmentalist.
“We do a lot of key planting and composting – trying to address issues in the landscape and teaching kids about sustainable management of the land,” she said.
“Both schools we’ve done lots of revegetation and also weed removal.
“Since I’ve been at Armidale High we’ve done a number of tree planting projects in our wetland area and in the actual school playground and school farm.”
Last year Ms Smith formed the Black Creek Bush Care group, which took out the Junior Landcarers Team Award this year.
The team was given a site, near the Armidale Cemetery, to work on – with the aim of controlling woody weeds.
“We went up as a group and removed about four truckloads of woody weeds from that very significant, threatened community of grassy woodland,” she said.
Ms Smith also began the Frog Dreaming conference with Sarah Schmude in 2008.
“The Bush Care kids then became mentors at Frog Dreaming –teaching other kids about the environment and working with them in a group,” Ms Smith said.
“We started Frog Dreaming to give kids a positive message about the environment because traditionally it’s always been very negative.
“For example with the polar bears running out of ice and all that sort of stuff and it was found kids were getting really depressed about the state of the planet.
“We wanted to do something that was really positive and show them that you just have to worry about where you are and if everyone does that then everywhere on the planet gets looked after.”
But as for the main message – Ms Smith said it’s pretty simple.
“I just want kids to know if they work together they can achieve some really great things,” she said.