Chairperson’s report, 2022

Waiting to release tortoises at Moore River NP.
  • On the 31st of August, 147 tortoises were released at Moore River NP. There were over 70 participants, many new members of the group. A further 40 tortoises were released down at Scott River NP.
  • An e-news bulletin has been initiated as the committee is keen to involve people all over WA in the work we do. It is distributed to 600 members every month (we are up from 400 members this time last year). So far it has been sent out in May, June, July, August, and September. Thank you to Tanya and key2creative for their help.
  • Tortoises Tales newsletter is still to be edited by Tanya and released 3 times per year with more in-depth information. 1000 hard copies are printed and distributed to libraries, schools, and businesses in the Swan Valley.
  • Claire has been keeping the Facebook page up to date, helping us to keep in touch with a wider audience. We have had several overseas queries, including one from Prague Zoo asking to use some of our photos.
  • We presented a successful submission to the City of Swan councillors opposing amendments to the buffer zone of the nature reserves, and we are keeping a close eye on the Kingsford estate in Bullsbrook and the proposed Vines redevelopment.
  • There was a walk along Ellen Brook at Clementine Estate led by Claire and Cathy after the May FoWST meeting.
  • The July meeting was at the Margaret River Chocolate Company, where we viewed the sculpture commissioned in 2019.
  • Jo Perry from Dormilona Winery has once again been our major sponsor in 2022. She has moved to a new venue in Margaret River with a cellar door, so we were pleased to be able to design and produce a sponsorship sign to go on the building.
  • Over 2000 volunteer hours have been recorded at DBCA by the FoWST group.
  • Cathy Levett spoke about involvement of young people, including the books All Because I Crossed the Road by Rachel Wu and Wally’s Way Home by Neeve Blackham-Jennings; also the Western Swamp Turtle Activity Book by Jennifer Wilcox (Year 5). There was a workshop at Clementine Estate for home schooled children.
  • Cathy’s tortoise model is at the museum being repaired. Jan’s was also broken but was easily repaired.
  • Jan called on members for help with various aspects of running the group, e.g. Mailchimp, Facebook, running stalls at events.

Community Engagement & Education – Cathy Levett

  • Following the May meeting at Clementine Estate our education team were asked by the Swan Home School Community to run some activities.  On the 16th of June Cathy presented workshops at Clementine for Early childhood, Primary and Secondary groups. The secondary school activities focused on the impact of development on the Western Swamp Tortoise and the broader natural environment. One of the young people, Sophie, was motivated to write a letter outlining her ideas for working with developers in educating future residents.
  • We have been contacted by young people who have shared books that they’ve created about the WST. Neeve Blackham-Jennings wrote and illustrated Wally’s Way Home. It is available to buy through our group and the WA Naturalist Club. Jennifer Wilcox, a year 5 student, sent us the activity book she created, which we will be sharing via the website and Facebook. We have previously featured All Because I Crossed the Road by Rachael Wu, who was in attendance at the AGM.
  • Jan and Cathy continue to visit schools for education sessions and following a recent talk at Gooseberry Hill Primary School, Cathy received reports written by Year 2 students. Samples were presented at the meeting.
  • Karen Schmidt, a FoWST member, creates videos featuring WA nature on her “Life in the Bush” website. She is currently working on her Western Swamp Tortoise video with Neeve and Cathy. The video will help the education team to promote our books, resources and activities.