SOUTH Gippsland Landcare Network (SGLN) held its AGM recently at Grand Ridge Brewery, Mirboo North, celebrating another great year of land stewardship.
More than 35 members of local Landcare groups attended the meeting, where chairperson Frank Dekker delivered his annual report and thanked the hard working board members and other volunteers for their “invaluable” knowledge and contributions in what has been a busy year for the SGLN.
Frank said his highlights of the last year included the Green Carpet Awards at the Heyfield wetlands precinct and having dinner with former Governor General Michael Jeffery discussing the importance of healthy soils.
He spoke about the “multitude of fantastic events” held throughout the Network, such as the recent Ragwort Field Day and National Landcare Week celebrations.
After the board was returned unopposed, the Inaugural Dick Howarth Memorial SGLN Life Membership Award was presented to Suzanne Wightman, of the Mardan/Mirboo North Landcare group.
SGLN’s acting network coordinator Jill Vella said Suzanne received the award because she is someone who “quietly achieves in background,” and “practices what she preaches”.
Suzanne, a dairy farmer, has been a Landcare member since 2002.
She was an early founder of the Mardan/Mirboo North Landcare group and helped start and support the Mirboo North Secondary College Landcare Cadets program.
Jill said Suzanne has done “hundreds if not thousands” of hours of volunteer work with Landcare, including tree planting and serving as treasurer on the SLGN board.
Suzanne is part of Mossvale Park’s management group and also works regularly at the Baths Road Reserve.
The network created the memorial award to celebrate Dick Howarth’s life and recognise his outstanding contributions to the Landcare movement.
Dick joined Landcare in 1998 and served as president of Loch/Nyora Landcare, advocating for smal landholders, and supporting the group in actively recruiting and involving lifestyle farmers and town dwellers in Landcare activities.
Dick represented his local group at the South Gippsland Landcare Network as vice-president and then president, representing the broader Landcare community on various regional and state-wide forums, and playing a key role in assisting the network to move forwards in a strategic manner during challenging times.
He passed away in September 2002, after a sudden heart attack.