Thank you to our EIANZ volunteers

Published 8 May 2017

This week it’s National Volunteer Week - an annual celebration acknowledging the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers.

EIANZ would not exist without the ongoing commitment, dedication, passion and expertise of volunteers. Over 30 years ago, a group of environmental practitioners and academics recognised that there was no professional ‘home’ for them and worked tirelessly on forming the Environment Institute of Australia (as it was then known) in 1987. Over the years, EIANZ has continued to grow and thrive, thanks largely to volunteer commitment.

This week, we take the opportunity to say thank you to all our volunteers in Australia and New Zealand: our Board, Advisory Council, members of Committees and Special Interest Sections, and so many others who volunteer their time and expertise with us. All contributions, large and small, are appreciated and important. We also recognise that many of our volunteers also give their time to other organisations and towards environmental activities, and for this we’re thankful.

To showcase just some of these, we asked a few of our members to tell us why they volunteer for EIANZ and what they enjoy about it.


Bryan Jenkins FEIANZ | Treasurer, EIANZ Board

Bryan is a founding member of EIANZ and was the Institute’s inaugural Treasurer in 1986.

How long have you volunteered with EIANZ for and  in what capacity?
I have had two periods of working on the Institute’s governing body. The first period was when the Institute was formed in 1986 and I was the Treasurer of the first Executive Council of what was then the Environment Institute of Australia. The second period has been since 2013 when I have been the Treasurer of what is now the Board of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand.

What motivated you to volunteer your time with EIANZ?
In 1986, the motivation was to help establish environmental planning and management as a profession. At that time there was no professional home for environmental practitioners. Professional development was a subset of science or engineering. Notwithstanding, there were aspects of environmental practice that needed more specific attention, such as its multidisciplinary character and ethical requirements. Creating a professional body to address these issues was seen by me as an important activity to be involved in.

In 2013, the motivation was to give back to the profession that had supported my career. As the demands of paid employment reduced, there was more time available to undertake voluntary tasks and use not only my environmental knowledge but also my management experience to contribute to the development of the profession.

What do you enjoy about volunteering? What are the benefits of volunteering?
Volunteering not only provides the opportunity to contribute to something that is of personal importance but also the chance to work with other people who are so passionate about their environmental interests that they are willing to invest their own time. There is considerable satisfaction in working with others to advance the interests of the environment profession.

Would you recommend volunteering and why?
Volunteering is rewarding when you have the time to commit to community interests beyond your working and family life. It is another way of contributing to the community and working with like-minded people to achieve positive outcomes.

Jeff Richardson MEIANZ | President, Northern Territory Division

Jeff is President of the Northern Territory Division and a member of the Institute's Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is made up of the presidents from each Division and the New Zealand Chapter, and the chairs of the Special Interest Sections.

How long have you volunteered with EIANZ for and  in what capacity?
I have volunteered with EIANZ for four years. Initially this was as a committee member of the Northern Territory Division where I was involved in organising events. I have been president of the Division since 2015. I am also on the management committee of EIANZ’s Impact Assessment Special Interest Section.

What motivated you to volunteer your time with EIANZ?
I joined EIANZ soon after leaving government and starting work as an environmental consultant. I was looking to become part of a network for environmental practitioners. I found this and more with EIANZ. EIANZ gives a platform for discussion around shared issues and represents the interests of environmental practitioners. For me working with EIANZ was a no brainer. 

What do you enjoy about volunteering? What are the benefits of volunteering?
I enjoy working collaboratively to define and work towards a goal. I enjoy meeting and working with people outside my usual network. Volunteers make volunteering fun - there is a great sense of community. I enjoy giving something back. As a community we rely heavily on volunteers to run sporting and community groups, school councils etc. Being a volunteer helps you appreciate these groups. 

And it is a lot better than watching TV!

Would you recommend volunteering and why?
Absolutely I would recommend it. It increases your sense of belonging, gives a great sense of satisfaction and shared achievement. For those people wishing to extend their work or social networks it is a fabulous opportunity.

Sophie Cowie MEIANZ | Chair, EIANZ Students & Early Careers Committee

Sophie chairs the Student and Early Careers Committee. This is an Institute-wide Board committee that focuses on the development of member services for students and early career environmental practitioners .

How long have you volunteered with EIANZ for and  in what capacity?
I started small in 2013, volunteering on South East Queensland Division's Students and Early Careers (SEC) Committee helping the then chair, Emma McIntosh, run events for the Division. When Emma won a scholarship to Oxford, I took over as SEC Chair. I held this position until August last year when I started an MBA and took on my current role as Chair of the Institute's Students and Early Careers Committee. 
What motivated you to volunteer your time with EIANZ?
I started volunteering with the EIANZ because I wanted a new challenge and I wanted to give something back to my discipline. The EIANZ, as a highly-regarded association and the peak professional association for my discipline, was an obvious choice.
What do you enjoy about volunteering? What are the benefits of volunteering?
There are so, so, so many things I enjoy about volunteering for the EIANZ. The people first and foremost are incredible, dedicated, motivated, inspirational and care deeply for the environment, the profession, and for our members. It's wonderful to learn from, and share ideas with, some of the greatest minds in our profession. Secondly, is the challenge and rewards that come with working on projects, events, and strategic plans that provide value to our members and the environment discipline.
Would you recommend volunteering and why?
A resounding yes! I have met incredible mentors, made some life-long friends and had many laughs while volunteering for the EIANZ. Volunteering is not about the time is takes out of your life, but about what it puts in. For me this has been a sense of purpose, brilliant conversation, and time spent well with like-minded people. 

Zena Helman FEIANZ | Chair, Policy and Practice Committee

Zena chairs the Institute's Policy and Practice Committee and has been volunteering with EIANZ since she joined as a founding member in 1987.

How long have you volunteered with EIANZ for and in what capacity?
I have volunteered for the Institute in various capacities, on and off, since I first joined the Institute in 1987. I was on the Council and served as National treasurer until 1992. I helped certify the first few rounds of Certified Environmental Practitioners, and have been involved in the mentor program. I started on the Policy and Practice Committee in 2012, and now Chair that Board Committee.

What motivated you to volunteer your time with EIANZ?
The EIANZ exists to promote good environmental practice, and that is an important objective to me both for professionals in the field, and for good public policy and private environmental practice more broadly. I want to help the Institute succeed!

What do you enjoy about volunteering? What are the benefits of volunteering?
The main reason is that I get to be involved with passionate, committed professionals. It also exposes me to what is happening on areas of environmental practice beyond what I see through my own work.

Would you recommend volunteering and why?
Absolutely! Volunteering for anything, including the Institute, broadens horizons in all sorts of ways. Giving back to my professional community is a way of showing in concrete terms how important I think it is.

Ian Davies MEIANZ CEnvP | Vice President, Victorian Division

Ian has volunteered on a range of EIANZ initiatives in Victoria and South Australia over the last eight years. He is currently Vice President and Secretary of the Victorian Division

How long have you volunteered with EIANZ for and in what capacity?
I've volunteered for eight years:

  • As a committee member and then President of the South Australian Division, and now Vice President and Secretary of the Victorian Division
  • Involved in the Victorian Mentor Program for two years since its inception
  • Panellist for CEnvP professional interviews
  • At student and Early Career events at Flinders University, Melbourne University, RMIT University (also a member of that university’s Industry Mentor Program), and Monash University
  • Coordinated, run, and supported many EIANZ events in SA and VIC
  • Represented EIANZ at external functions – such as the Victorian State Government’s Climate Change TAKE2 Program
  • Presented at EIANZ Annual Conferences (2011 and 2016)

What motivated you to volunteer your time with EIANZ?
I am a member of a number of professional associations but EIANZ represents those activities and interests which are most relevant to my professional career and to which I have devoted most effort (although I have also been a elected to other professional association committees in the past).

What do you enjoy about volunteering? What are the benefits of volunteering?
If you are fully committed in terms of time and effort, the rewards which come back to the volunteer are massively greater than your own contribution. In the case of EIANZ, you have the opportunity to engage with professionals at all stages of career development across a very broad range of disciplines across industry, government, NGO, academic, and research sectors.  And to do so in forums which are supportive, informative, non-threatening, and non-competitive.

Would you recommend volunteering and why?
Absolutely, and I do so on a regular basis as opportunities arise and I meet someone who I feel would make a valuable contribution to the growth and development of EIANZ.  I successfully persuaded one such person to join the Victorian Division committee last year and believe I have found an ideal candidate to nominate at this year’s AGM.

Ian Marshall MEIANZ | Editor, Impact Assessment SIS newsletter

Ian recently responded to a call from the Impact Assessment SIS for an editor for their newsletter. 

How long have you volunteered with EIANZ for and  in what capacity?
I have only recently commenced volunteer work for the EIANZ as editor for the Impact Assessment SIS's newsletter, but consider it is important to stay connected with my areas of interest  and to also help develop and maintain networks. 

What motivated you to volunteer your time with EIANZ?
I have worked in the environment and health sectors for many years in both the private and public sectors and believe working under the banner of the EIANZ helps me to remain centred in my thinking about environmental issues.  

What do you enjoy about volunteering? What are the benefits of volunteering?
I enjoy the interaction with other professionals. So networking is a huge benefit. Also knowing what is happening in other states, territories and what is also happening overseas. 

Would you recommend volunteering and why?
Volunteering is not for everyone. Of course having time to put aside is important. I tend to leave most things to the last minute, but as an editor for a newsletter that comes with the territory. I would recommend volunteering to anyone who has the time, has the interest and see it as an opportunity to broaden your professional network.