Introducing the very first Bill Waterer Award
Bill Waterer OAM is the Jane Goodall Institute Australia’s (JGIA) longest-standing volunteer. A lynchpin in growing Roots & Shoots across Australia since our early days in 2006, Bill has recruited over 10,000 young people in Western Australia alone, as both National Coordinator, and now, State Coordinator.
To commemorate Bill’s incredible commitment, hard work and passion for Jane’s work, this year JGIA are very pleased to announce the inaugural Bill Waterer OAM Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. This annual prize will acknowledge rising young leaders following in Bill’s big footsteps to help animals, people and environment.
“When I was first contacted about the award my first feeling was one of embarrassment,” shares Bill. “But, I realised this could inspire young people to make that extra effort. I am hoping the award will encourage young people to follow Dr. Goodall’s vision of Roots & Shoots being student driven, and encompassing all areas of the world we live in.”
The very first winner is Dr. Mahima Kalla, a highly dedicated Roots & Shoots volunteer chosen for promoting the Roots & Shoots vision by founding the thriving Monash University group and more. A medical sociology researcher and teacher, sustainability leader and children’s author, Mahima has superb professional skills matched with a deep drive to create positive impact – making her an awesome asset for Roots & Shoots Australia.
Via the group and personally Mahima is actively leading many impactful projects for social plus environmental change, in Victoria and worldwide, with hugely inspiring plans for the future.
Mahima was ecstatic with the news: “I was overcome with so much joy and heartfelt appreciation for everything that Roots & Shoots has given me: a sense of purpose, amazing role models like Jane and Bill, plus lifelong friendships. Simultaneously, I felt emboldened to be more ambitious in my future activism pursuits to make a greater impact at a larger scale.
“This award means a lot to me, especially because it honours Bill’s amazing conservation legacy. I feel so inspired as I contemplate the ripple effects of his work, and how the thousands of young leaders he’s mentored will give to their own communities for years to come.”
From discovery to action
Mahima discovered Jane’s legacy as a student, deciding to get involved that very same evening: “One night during my under-graduate days at Monash University, while procrastinating applying for summer jobs, I encountered a video about a woman who had lived in the African rainforests.
With little more than a notebook and binoculars she made pioneering discoveries about chimpanzee behaviour that forever redefined humans’ relationship with the natural world. I was up till 2am that night, listening to every lecture, or article I could find by and about Dr. Goodall.
“That night I also learnt about the Roots & Shoots program. The following semester I started a Roots & Shoots group at Monash, which, over the next three years, became one of the most active student-led environmental and social justice organisations on campus.”
Local action for global impact
The Monash University Roots & Shoots group created many projects to help animals, people and environment – acting locally, while thinking globally. Locally she has run urban restoration projects with Parks Victoria, and conducted a chemistry experiment to prove that Melbourne tap water is equal to bottled – reducing plastic waste. Mahima has also raised funds to support HIV+ orphans in India, plus is now developing the six-month Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership experience with our staff.
“While receiving this award was a delightful surprise, working with the Roots & Shoots community is a great reward in itself,” Mahima reflects. “This year, my focus will be on developing educational resources to up-skill youth leaders in end-to-end community project development, implementation, and impact evaluation processes. I hope to help young leaders be more effective, as they build on Bill’s and Jane’s incredible conservation and social justice legacies globally.”
Want to learn more about Roots & Shoots, join a group, set one up or volunteer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help!