Words are like ripples: Angela and Jennifer’s mentoring journey

Mentee: Jennifer Johnson, Moorabool Catchment Landcare Coordinator
Mentor: Angela Gladman, North Central Catchment Management Authority

Angela and Jennifer visiting various sites within the North Central CMA area to look at riparian projects. Photo credit: Jennifer Johnson

Our Goals:

Trying to develop some clear goals was difficult at first, as Jennifer was being pulled in several directions at once, but feeling unfulfilled in the role. Angela suggested that she work on focussing her efforts. The best outcome would be to complete the Moorabool Catchment Landcare group strategy that had been in draft form for several years. This would provide some clearer direction on where to focus her efforts. Through discussing what Jennifer needed help with, some other goals became apparent that were more of a personal nature around healthy time management and reducing social isolation.

The goals contained in our Mentoring Agreement were:

Goal One – Professional development

  • Angela to share contacts, resources, skills and knowledge
  • Jennifer to show Angela the issues and threats in her catchment

Goal two – Project/program delivery

  • Finalise strategic plan by AGM in October 2019, build relationships with Wadawurrung and analyse Landcare membership demographics to target efforts/events

Goal Three – Utilise time more effectively and effectively

  • Spend more time with landholders, chill out and have a coffee with someone weekly, and reduce isolation (stop being a workaholic!)

Our Actions:

Moorabool Catchment Landcare Tour – May 2019

Following the first Twinning workshop in March, Angela visited Jennifer for a tour of the Moorabool Catchment Landcare group area to become more familiar with the issues that Jennifer was dealing with. As part of the visit, Angela met three different private landholders and looked at some of the projects carried out within the catchment. They discussed issues around waterway management and how they could be addressed.

Moorabool River where we discussed involving Wadawurrung in future grant projects especially in relation to eDNA testing. Photo credit: Jennifer Johnson

North Central Catchment Management Authority Visit – July 2019

Following the second workshop in June, Jennifer then visited Angela at the North Central Catchment Management Authority. Angela introduced her to the following NCCMA staff:

  • Tess Grieves, (Regional Landcare Coordinator) – discussed challenges and opportunities for Landcare Facilitators
  • Emma Wolters (Catchment Restoration Officer) – discussed various methods of engaging with landholders and project delivery
  • Robyn McKay (Project Manager) and Patrick Fagan (Indigenous Facilitator) – discussed TO engagement and Patrick (Wadawurrung man) provide some useful contacts

Goals Achievement:

Goal One – Professional development

Through site visits to each other’s area, contacts, resources, skills and knowledge were exchanged. Angela was able to learn about the issues and threats in the Moorabool catchment.

Goal two – Project/program delivery

Jennifer worked with Angela through the time of the Twinning program to complete the Strategic Plan. Angela provided feedback on the plan and also suggested other people who should look over it to ensure it was relevant and useful. The Plan was completed on time before the AGM and launched to the MCLG members in October.

Jennifer launching the Strategic Plan at the October AGM. Photo Credit: Brian Kennedy

Jennifer organised several events with Wadawurrung this year. Some of those events included meeting and walking with Wadawurrung on private land and discussing the history of the area. It provided Jennifer with the opportunity to see parts of the area she had not seen before and also discuss possible future collaborative projects.

Smoking ceremonies on private land conducted by the Wadawurrung. Photo Credit: Jennifer Johnson

Goal Three – Utilise time more effectively and effectively

Angela also introduced Jennifer to the ex-Upper Campaspe Landcare Network Coordinator Sandy Scheltema who was also quite isolated in her role. Jennifer organised to have a coffee date with Sandy and discuss the ongoing pressures and issues associated with working with community groups in Landcare. It was a great way to blow off some steam, feel better connected to other colleagues and feel less isolated.

Sandy and Jennifer catching up over coffee in Blackwood. Photo credit: Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer expressed the frustration of being office-bound in her Landcare role. Angela suggested she speak to the Landcare committee to allow her at least one day a week allocated to visiting landholders to feel better connected with Landcare members, as well as being able to provide some on ground advice. Jennifer spoke to the committee in May who approved she spend one day per week undertaking landholder visits.

Taking time to reflect, talk and listen to private landholders, is a great way to connect to members and also reduce stress from being constantly in the office. Photo Credit: Jennifer Johnson

Our reflections from the ‘Twinning’ experience

For Jennifer

  • Made me really look at where I am in life and question what I needed and what I could do differently. Realised that I need to make more time for myself and prioritise what matters most.

For Jennifer

  • Learning how to be a mentor
  • Understanding other people’s work challenges
  • Enjoyed being able to offer support, connections and resources

Final reflection:

“Words are like ripples” – what you say and do in your job role reflects your piece of mind and the success of your projects.

“It is not about making a big splash, but about making positive ripples” – maintaining a healthy work-life balance (instead of going for every grant and being at a constant breakneck pace) leads to a more positive mindset, which is important for Landcare coordinators to reduce stress and burn out in the long-term.

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