Mahri Koch and Kelly Walsh honoured at Landcare Awards

WORKING HARD: Mahri Koch receiving her award from Sally Wright at the Landcare awards dinner in Armidale earlier this month.

WORKING HARD: Mahri Koch receiving her award from Sally Wright at the Landcare awards dinner in Armidale earlier this month.

Glen Innes environmentalists Mahri Koch and Kelly Walsh have been recognised for their efforts – both taking out accolades at the Landcare Awards on May 9.

The pair joined a crowd of around 120 people for a dinner at the University of New England’s Robb College Dining Hall.

Ms Walsh, who was nominated by GLECRAC, took out the Young Landcare Leader Award, nominated for her contribution to her role as a Project and Administration Officer for GLENRAC Inc.

While she had only worked at GLENRAC for 14 months, she has bought a new perspective to engaging young people to Landcare.

Ms Koch, also nominated by GLENRAC, received a Highly Commended Award in the Individual Landcarer category for her active dedication to landcare in the Glen Innes community.

She told The Examiner she had been involved in a wide range of activities since she moved to the Tablelands in 1999.

“My contribution over the years has been to help bring awareness to different levels of community such as different age groups to get people familiar with their natural environment,” she said.

“The only way to actually have people wanting to care about their natural environment is to first make them aware of its beauty and benefits.”

Ms Koch said one of her main projects since moving to the region has included volunteer work with local schools.

“There is a creek section that runs behind Glen Innes Primary School so at different times over the years I’ve taken classes out to that creek and we’ll do hands on things like get water out of the creek and look at what’s living in it,” she said.

The students are then taught to think about how to look after the water, to protect the creatures living in it.

“That leads to discussions about pollution and managing waste,” she said.

“I’ve also taken high school students out into the paddock to talk about ecosystem management, revegetation, feral animals and the impacts of invasive species on the ecosystems and landscapes.”

Over the years Ms Koch has also worked in wildlife rehabilitation both here and in Queensland.

“Predominantly I think GLENRAC were looking at the work I’ve been doing at Glen Elgin – engaging the landholders for the past seven or eight years to manage weed invasions, feral animals and coming together as a community,” she said.

GLENRAC’s third nomination was the Glen Elgin Eco Carers Group who was a finalist in the Landcare Group award. The group has pursued many opportunities to assist with land management issues.

Kelly Walsh receives her award from Sally Wright at the awards night.

Kelly Walsh receives her award from Sally Wright at the awards night.