Turtle volunteers paying it forward for the grandkids
  • Monday 11 May 2015
turtle volunteers

Only one in 1,000 turtles survives.

Then you won’t meet that turtle again for 30 years, until she returns to her birthplace to breed.

But it’s worth the wait, according to turtle protection volunteers Wayne Foster and Marilyn Walker.

The Golden Beach pair is on the front line of volunteers, making daily journeys on their boat to the northern tip of Bribie Island to ensure turtle eggs buried there during the hatching season are protected from their four major predators and hazards: foxes, goannas, wild pigs and, sadly, four-wheel drivers.

“We report turtle movement, working with the Council’s volunteer program,” Wayne said.

“We did the ‘sea-change’ four years ago from Brisbane – and we haven’t looked back.”

They were in a position to take up volunteering, and their lives have been dramatically altered – and enriched – as a result.

“We have been good for this – and it has been good for us,” Marilyn said.

“It has broadened our horizons, into things we never knew.”

Wayne and Marilyn put their hands up to tell their story as part of National Volunteers Week, which this year runs from May 11 to 17.

“Volunteering is very rewarding,” Marilyn said.

“If you are considering volunteering, I say just go for it; find out what you are passionate about.

“You will get back more than you put in.”

Marilyn said their grandchildren live just round the corner and they have taken a big interest in their volunteer work, joining them on their boat trips to patrol 5km of beach.

“We used to use kayaks, but removing rubbish from the island got too much – on one recent trip we picked up 330kg of rubbish,” she said.

Wayne said the volunteer work they are doing now will deliver in the future.

“Turtles come back to their birthplace 30 years later, so we are ‘paying it forward’ for our grandkids – we might not be around, but they will get to see the surviving turtles we protected,” he said.

Sunshine Coast Council Community Programs portfolio councillor Jenny McKay said this year’s theme is “Give Happy, Live Happy”, and acknowledged the many volunteers who gave back to the community in so many ways.

“Volunteers make an enormous difference to our community, and the nation,” Cr McKay said.

 “Becoming a volunteer offers a tremendous opportunity to return something the community and perhaps learning something completely new and rewarding in your life.

“For so many people, giving is its own reward.

“And there are no age limits, with people young and old volunteering across many areas.”

Visit Council’s website www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au for more information on volunteering.