Released 08/09/2017

Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch Facilitator Woo O’Reilly has been chosen as the ACT nominee to the Australian Association of Environmental Education’s Environmental Educator of the Year Award, to be announced on 11 September.

“Ms O’Reilly was chosen for her outstanding contribution to environmental education through Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch, which she has been coordinating for some years with funding from the ACT Government and Icon Water,” the Executive Director of Catchment Management and Water Policy, Matt Kendall said today.

“For 20 years Waterwatch has been raising awareness in the community and among school students about our waterways and actively encouraging and facilitating people to help monitor and improve them. By involving the volunteers in environmental activities, they are learning about the environment and become champions in the community.

“Woo coordinates hundreds of citizen scientists a year to count platypus, record water quality and catch bugs. That she can get 100 people checking for platypus at dawn in sub-zero conditions is testimony to her powers of persuasion and the enthusiasm she engenders in the community.

“More than 200 volunteers regularly collect essential water quality data. Their records are so precise and detailed that they form part of the Territory’s official water quality monitoring scheme and contribute to the development of catchment management policy.

“Community research through Frogwatch, which partners with Waterwatch, has resulted in changes to our mowing guidelines for ponds to provide more habitat for frogs adjacent to urban wetlands.

“Waterwatch data has helped initiate community-based conservation activities such as creek restoration, willow removal, litter clean-ups, weed eradication, habitat development and reduced use of pesticides and fertilisers from Cooma to Yass.

“Despite her own tireless commitment, Woo would be the first person to acknowledge that her nomination is the result of the hard work and dedication of the Waterwatch volunteers,” Mr Kendall said.

The Australian Association of Environmental Education (AAEE) uses education, engagement and capacity building to achieve a more sustainable future and positive environmental outcomes. Members include environmental organisations, agencies, business and industries.

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