CERES Education Interview with Anthony Mangelsdorf
The Environmental & Sustainability 2014 Educator of the Year
ResourceSmart Schools Coordinator for the Barwon South West region
Outdoor Environmental Education Lecturer at Federation University

February 2016

1. How did you first become interested in environmental issues?

It all began when I was fifteen years old and my father told me that he wanted me to go on a school bushwalking trip – in my school holidays. Of course, as a teenager, I wasn’t too impressed with the idea of giving up my holidays to go on a school trip, but my father told me that if I didn’t enjoy this trip he wouldn’t make me go again. So off I went on this five day bushwalk in the (then) Wonnangatta-Moroka National Park (now Alpine National Park)…and I loved it! One of the most appealing aspects was that the students led the trips, with the staff being back at the base camp, at the other end of a two way radio (no mobile phones back then). Even on this first trip I knew that I wanted to become a group leader, and so I went on every possible school bushwalking trip and clocked up over seventy days of bushwalking and leading in the Victorian alpine environment before I finished school. It really was the best part of my secondary schooling. This sparked my love of the natural environment, particularly the Australian alpine environment, and this love for nature has shaped my environmental and sustainability journey to this day.

Bushwalking where it all began – Alpine National Park

2. What have been the biggest highlights of your journey so far?

Working with so many educators, teachers and students over the years that are committed to sustainability and creating a better world for us all. Thank you very much to all of you.

Spending time in nature – in the local park, amongst the gums trees on the school ground, on the beach, in the surf or in the alpine environment.

Being named the Environment Education Victorian Environmental and Sustainability Educator of the Year last year was a great honour – particularly because awards of this type generate interest in the mainstream media, and I believe that environmental and sustainability education should be highlighted wherever and whenever possible.

Anthony awarded The Environmental & Sustainability 2014 Educator of the Year

3. What has been the biggest obstacle? How did you / are you overcoming it?

One of the biggest obstacles is the very nature of sustainability…it is all about change, which is difficult for us humans, and it is on an overwhelming scale. Spending time in nature always nourishes and energises me, so that it is easier for me to see the positive side of every situation. This also helps me to remember the reason why I have chosen to be an outdoor, environmental and sustainability educator.

4. What future plans or goals are you excited about?

I am undertaking academic research into the ways that alpine outdoor education could contribute to sustainability education, which combines my passion for alpine environments, outdoor education and sustainability, so I am very excited about this.

A special way Anthony gets his students interested in outdoor environmental
education is to build igloos on alpine camps.

5. What advice would you offer to someone wanting to begin a sustainability program at their school or organisation?

  • Find ways to put nature at the centre of your endeavours.
  • Take photos, take photos, take photos (e.g. photo point monitoring – take photos from the exactly same spot over time to show before, during and after).
  • Build a team of whoever is interested (students, parents, colleagues, community members).
  • Share your successes with the school and local community (think ‘stories and numbers’).
  • Contact your local ResourceSmart Schools Facilitator to help you on your sustainability journey.
  • Build a case to show your principal (and school community) the ways that your sustainability program is benefitting the school (educational, economic, environmental, community) and ask that this sustainability program is properly resourced with time (e.g. within the meeting schedule for a ‘science and sustainability’ team) and an allocated budget (create a line within the budget to reinvest some of the economic savings that you have generated back into your sustainability program).
  • Find ways to ensure that fun, affirmation and opportunity are the foundation of all your plans and actions.

Thank you Anthony for sharing your story.

Nominations are currently open for Environment Education Victoria’s Environment Educator of the Year award. Visit the EEV website for more information. Nominations .close 21 March 2016.

By CERES Education – Outreach Team|2017-11-06T18:31:22+10:00February 1st, 2016|0 Comments