Meet Our Volunteer: Julie

Since our humble beginnings in 2014, Science for Wildlife has been actively studying Blue Mountains koalas and their habitats. This work tracking koala movements, discovering habitats, identifying suitable tree species for food and shelter, documenting mortality rates and the threats that koala populations face, would not be possible without the wonderful support of our volunteers. Our volunteers are paramount to the implementation of Science for Wildlife projects and without them, many of our projects and initiatives would not be as effective and in some instances, not possible. They also play a major role in sharing our discoveries with local communities, so that more people can become stewards for conservation and our conservation impact can be scaled up.

Featured above: Science for Wildlife volunteers getting ready to deploy water stations during the Dec/Jan bushfires

As such, Science for Wildlife will be saying thank you to our amazing volunteers via recognition articles over the coming months, because without them the work we do would not be possible.

This month we would like to introduce you to our much-loved volunteer, Julie!

Meet Julie

Julie Rust (age 63) has been a volunteer with Science for Wildlife for 16 months. Having recently retired from a career in health management, Julie and her husband now share their time between their home in Sydney and a small property in Hampton NSW, near Kanangra Boyd NP. This is where Julie’s love for koalas started.

In 2009, we spotted a koala near our house. The first one ever for us in this area! This piqued my interest and then I heard about Science for Wildlife’s project in 2019 so I contacted Kellie re our sighting.  She suggested I come along to a survey day in KB NP and after that I was hooked. I’ve always loved bushwalking and Australian wildlife, so it combined my interests.

Featured above: Julie out on field work with the Science for Wildlife team

Since then, Julie has been trained for a number of fieldwork projects. Firstly, Julie learnt about survey and capture days which involve looking for new koalas to add to the study group. Following this, she was trained to track tagged koalas and now tracks and record observations of study group koalas, including Krishna and Houdini, on a regular basis. Julie was also also involved in a rescue weekend back in December 2019:

We tracked and captured most the study group ahead of the encroaching bushfire, and delivered them to Taronga Zoo for safekeeping. For the next few months, we collected browse from KB NP and surrounds to keep up their ‘local’ food content. During this time, I also helped out with making wildlife water stations in our workshop at Hampton.

Julie loves volunteering for Science for Wildlife as she finds the work mentally and physically challenging, and it gives her an opportunity to learn more about koalas and wildlife in general. She told us:

Considering the creeping destruction of koala habitat, compounded by the recent bushfire crisis, it is very rewarding to be able to do something positive and ‘hands on’ for this iconic species. Also, there is a great camaraderie between all the staff of SFW and the other volunteers and I have made some wonderful new friends.

Featured above: Joeys at Taronga Zoo looking at Julie and other volunteers delivering a trailer
load of browse

How can you help S4W?

If you have seen a koala in the last 12 months, let us know! You can use our online form or download our “Koala Spotters” app in the Google Play store.

To make a donation, head to our website and follow the links to our secure payment systems. All donations over $2 are tax deductible for Australian Residents.

For other projects updates and to learn more about Science for Wildlife community, visit our website here.