In this first of our series of articles profiling our regular Bio·R volunteers, we meet Johanna, Myall and their child Jarrah, who have been involved with us for a number of years, particularly in and around our planting festivals.
Jo and Myall are a few of the knowledgeable volunteers we rely on to be able to both identify many species of native tubestock and be able to lay them out in an ecologically-informed manner, that makes the difference between revegetation and the construction of functional habitats. This year, they’re also growing 750 seedlings of the 40,000 that will be planted at our Frahns Farm Planting Festival in June.
Jo started volunteering with Bio·R the year before the kangaroo fence went up at Frahns Farm, having been introduced by her friends from university. “I like that it is local and community-minded and I value the scientific basis of the project and ongoing monitoring involved. I love the idea of watching it grow. Like a giant long-term garden we’re all creating. It’s such a joy each year to revisit the plants and the community at the annual planting festival.” Myall started volunteering in 2017 after teaching for Founder David Paton’s first year ecology course at Adelaide University. “I appreciated his passion for conservation. I’m most motivated by the biodiversity crisis and needing to contribute to the prevention of species loss. Extinction is forever. I love the community and I love contributing to a long term project with such wide ranging benefits.”
Jo and Myall each grew up in the Adelaide Hills and near Maslin’s Beach, now raising Jarrah in Hahndorf. Jo recognises her mother’s green thumb being passed onto her, as she was identifying zinnias at only 3 years old. “We spent a lot of time outside as kids and my folks were great at pointing out stuff in nature – birds, plants, odd rocks or funny-shaped sticks”. Myall, too, reflects on his family’s influence on his interest in nature. His grandfather, who was a professor of chemistry, would take him on bushwalks, describing natural phenomena in minute detail and encouraging Myall’s observation of animal behaviour. “I remember before I could write, I would sit watching ant nests with pen and paper, scribbling away, taking ‘scientific’ notes”, Myall says.
Currently, Jo baby-wrangles 24/7! This includes supervising Jarrah who, starts the day visiting the hens and then spends the rest of it “putting sticks in his mouth”. She says that she realised she should study environmental science when she kept taking her English as a Second Language classes on hikes instead of staying in the classroom. Myall has completed his PhD in paleobotany, yet works on the Kangaroo Island feral pig eradication project in the invasive species unit at Biosecurity SA. “Eight-hundred feral pigs down so far and fingers crossed the job will be done by 2023! Other than that, we’re pretty much what you’d expect from Bio·R volunteers; washing the nappies, making chutney, turning the compost…”
When asked about how they would like to see Bio·R progress over time, Jo and Myall say: “We hope to see Bio·R getting bigger and bigger – more plants, more sites, more birds! We’re big fans of the community education component combined with the innovative approach: lots of trial and error to get large scale revegetation happening as efficiently as possible. We’d like to see Bio·R’s vision expand across the Mount Lofty Ranges and beyond, and are looking forward to our first 100,000 plants put in the ground in a single festival sometime soon! Jarrah got to do his first planting festival as a 3 month old, and we’re excited for him to go back each year, to watch the Diamond Firetails forage when he’s 20.”
As a volunteer-run organisation, we’re extremely lucky to have such kind, skilled and generous people like Jo, Myall and Jarrah involved. We really couldn’t continue our work without the volunteering effort of these wonderful people. So from Bio·R, we say thank you Jo, Myall and Jarrah!
Author: Tristan Avella-O’Brien