WISHING guests a happy World Environment Day, Doug Reckord of the Bournda Environmental Education Centre opened the 37th WED dinner on Thursday night.
Held at the Bega Showground pavilion, as usual the event was a packed house as people from throughout the Bega Valley enjoyed a sumptuous meal prepared by the Tanja Hall Committee and listened to the guest speaker.
This year, diners were privileged to enjoy not one, but two guest speakers, with Dr Helen Sykes ceding the floor to inspirational youth leader Amelia Telford.
Dr Sykes is the founder of Future Leaders, a philanthropic initiative focused on leadership and the future of Australia, and has an eye for spotting talented young Australians.
She spoke for a short time about Future Leaders before introducing Ms Telford, who is the Indigenous coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC).
Ms Telford, 20, aims to engage not only Indigenous youth, but all young people across the nation to take action against climate change.
From the Bundjalung nation on the North Coast of NSW, she has been interested in environmental issues since she was eight.
She is currently on a gap year before she starts medicine at the University of NSW and is using it to work with AYCC and Future Leaders.
Her anecdotes about ways in which she and other members of AYCC are reaching out to everyone from school students to political leaders were so inspirational it seemed most guests wished they were 20 years younger and could join her cause.
Ms Telford, who is a finalist for the NAIDOC Youth of the Year to be announced in July, said she hopes to expand AYCC’s Indigenous Youth Engagement program into the Bega Valley.
Dr Sykes is also trying to bring Future Leaders into regional areas and to help with this she presented the inaugural Environment Award to a local Year 12 student who has shown environmental leadership.
The award went to Harrison Warne of Eden-Marine High School for his wildlife photography in which he captures incredible images of reptiles, insects, animals and landscapes on the Far South Coast.
Mr Reckord said Bournda EEC will work with Future Leaders to present this award annually at the World Environment Day Dinner.
For more information about the Australian Youth Climate Coalition visit www.aycc.org.au.