TurtleCare volunteers making a world of difference

National Volunteer Week (May 20-26) is a time to recognise, support and celebrate the incredible and selfless contribution our volunteers deliver for the Sunshine Coast.

This year alone, more than 1500 local volunteers have so far donated over 15,000 hours of their valuable time and skills towards council’s volunteering program.

This includes volunteering at festivals and events, in our libraries and with nature conservation, environment education, parks and gardens, the Caloundra Regional Gallery, Bankfoot House and the TurtleCare program.

For long-serving TurtleCare volunteer Carolyn Ufer, helping endangered Loggerhead Turtles during their annual nesting activities on our beaches has been a life-changing pursuit.

“I first started volunteering with TurtleCare in 2005 when I moved to the Sunshine Coast from Western Australia,” she said.

“I was astounded to learn that turtles laid eggs on our beaches and immediately wanted to volunteer for conservation of these ancient creatures. I wanted to give back to the environment.

“Humanity has brought the Loggerhead Turtle to critically endangered status due to our careless disposal of plastics and rubbish and the destruction of turtle nesting sites. It’s now up to us rectify this by addressing the causes and ensuring that as many hatchlings can now survive to increase their breeding population.

“Along with helping these wonderful animals, the friendships I’ve formed with other people in TurtleCare who share this common goal has been amazing and has really helped me connect to my community outside of work.

“Walking the beaches during turtle nesting season has also connected me to the nuances and big changes on our beaches which I may not have been attuned if I hadn’t been involved in volunteering to help our turtles.”

Council’s TurtleCare Volunteer Program carries out marine turtle monitoring for nesting activity from Golden Beach to Point Cartwright. Volunteers’ duties include identifying and recording species, nesting locations, frequency and success rates of nesting activities.

Community Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said TurtleCare was a shining example of our region’s remarkable history and willingness to volunteer and give back to our local community.

“We’re so incredibly blessed on the Sunshine Coast to have so many community members who are passionate and proactive when it comes to maintaining and enhancing our natural environment, our values and our lifestyle,” Cr McKay said.

“The theme of this year’s National Volunteer Week is Making a World of Difference, which really gets to the heart of what our volunteers are about here on the Sunshine Coast.

“This year alone local volunteers have poured 15,436 hours of their time, their skill and their passion into helping make the Sunshine Coast a better place.

“Like Carolyn, they’re helping endangered turtles and other flora and fauna, they’ve assisted in our local libraries and galleries and even helped others to read and write through our Adult Literacy assistance programs.

“It’s well documented that volunteering has a substantial social benefit for both individual volunteers and those on the receiving end of volunteer efforts.”

For details on council’s volunteering opportunities, including how to apply, visit council’s website.

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