In recognition of her dedication and commitment to protecting our South West coastline, Yallingup local, Jen Mitchell, has been awarded the 2016 John Oldham Conservation Employee Award.
The Conservation Council of Western Australia awarded Jen for her efforts in supporting its citizen science micro-plastics initiative. As the South West Catchments Council Coastal Facilitator, Jen worked with local volunteers to collect samples along the coastline to reveal the extent of the micro-plastics problem.
“When I first started working in coastal management, we had other issues to tackle like littering on the beach and illegal access,” said Jen Mitchell, SWCC Coastal Facilitator.
“Those issues remain; however, we now have emerging problems like micro-plastics that we need to address. In this industry we have to be adaptable to manage future threats.”
Micro-plastics include particles used in facewash and synthetic clothing, as well as the deterioration of larger plastic fragments. These plastics make their way to our waterways and ocean where they break down into smaller particles and are ingested by small invertebrates like zooplankton.
“It’s important we understand the extent of this problem so that we can find ways to prevent these plastics ending up in the environment,” she said.
Jen is a familiar face along our coast, having been a member of Yallingup Landcare for 18 years and employed in the NRM industry for over 20 years. She is an active community member with a passion for coastal conservation. Jen works tirelessly throughout both her professional and personal life to ensure our coast is managed sustainably for current and future generations to enjoy.
The Coastal Facilitator project is supported by the South West Catchments Council, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.