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Program manager update

March 21, 2024

Glenn Brooks-MacMillan- Programs Manager 

Wow, 2021 seems so long ago! My introduction to the Western Port Biosphere Foundation as Program Manager was quick and I hit the ground running, with lots to do. I look back to ‘my’ first connector in Oct 2021, see here Connector Newsletter – Issue 31 – Western Port Biosphere with Sarah Coe as editor.

I remember very vividly meeting Mel Barker, Lance Lloyd, Sarah Coe, and Stephen Brend with the odd contact with non-politician Greg Hunt, thinking how exciting this journey is going to be.

At the time Sarah asked me this:

What would you like to achieve as Program Manager of the Biosphere Foundation?
I am very interested in spending time working with a passionate Board of like-minded people all wanting to make a difference. I am looking forward to working as a team to help uphold the UNESCO and RAMSAR programs that in principle I see is about show casing how society can function sustainably while living in and protecting a hot spot of high biodiversity environmentally.
I see the Biosphere Foundation can help collaborate, educate, and support existing programs and initiatives across the Peninsula and Western Port. In addition, I would like to explore new and innovative programs to further build resilience and capacity in our community to best adapt and mitigate the risk of climate change.

So off we went, with Katerina Palthe a graduate student joining our team as graduate science officer along side Lucy Kyriacou as Project Science Officer, I can remember tackling ‘our’ first Environment Restoration Fund, Water Stewardship site visit which was with Lance, Kat, Lucy, and myself. It was incidentally at Sarah Coe’s place in Tyabb which formed the basis of some training, insights and more importantly passion for catchment improvements across the reserve. Sarah passed away not long after, and I still to this day when carrying out site assessments across the reserve think back to how approachable and willing, she was to listen and introduce new practices to her property.

I don’t feel people deliberately manage their land inappropriately, but it is more about awareness and reasons to change, money helps, but the drive to want to change is more effective.

Next to join our team was Jessica Brady, initially covering for Lucy while on holidays, Jess made an immediate impact by exploring some project management with Willum Warrain assisting us in building our first nations relationships through practical onground action called ‘Healing Water Country’.

I remember Jess once saying, ‘so let me get this right, we need to meet, to make a plan, on how we are going to prepare a management plan, that everyone agrees to do, so we can do some onground works…right?.’

Welcome to my world, as Program Manager, that’s what I do. I raise awareness to the community on UNESCO and Ramsar and try and convince them they are the solution and how people can live sustainably with nature. I then go find some money and resources to help them achieve their goals through new and innovative projects.

To me, I call it stewardship. Thanks to Lance, the Biosphere Foundation have delivered an excellent Water Stewardship program. Lucy, biodiversity in schools, and Jess has hit her mark as Marketing and Comms. Who would had thought this old bloke would be liking facebook, Instagram, WhattsApp and tiktok?

Add to this, significant investment in Blue Carbon, through mapping projects, management plans and onground works, but also extending our connection to country by working with Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation assisting their works team engage in Blue Carbon initiatives. We have been able to bring the ‘Blue Carbon’ community together to work on a number of exciting projects and initiatives.

Water Stewardship continues through investment in actions coming out of individual water plans such as the Revillaging Project in Boneo to establish a wetland along side the Tootgarook wetlands. Blue Carbon projects across Western Port Bay, where Lang Lang could in a few years be bringing back the swamp….(but don’t tell anyone just yet) and extension to Biodiversity in Schools to include marine and coastal asset education for school age children, where a day at the beach now constitutes part of their curriculum and maybe one day becomes a career for them.

Not only does the Foundation have a passion for the wellbeing of the Southern Brown Bandicoot through the coordination of a recovery group thanks to Stephen Brend from his overseas office, but in my relatively short time at the foundation, I have seen the Koala and Orange Bellied Parrot rate a mention, not to forget our migratory shorebirds.

Thanks to Kelly Smith joining our team wanting to share her passion for Koala’s, we have been able to align biolink connection across the reserve with the preservation of the Koala in partnership with the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation group and Moonlit Sanctuary. Watch this space, a ‘Koala Preservation Group’ for Western Port is not far away.

While the Reserve is big and has many many issues to address, it is the partnerships and relations with people, organisations, groups and governments that gets me out of bed to travel from the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges all the way to Western Port every day of the week, well it may surprise you but I was able to achieve all of this in only three days a week!

Being Program Manger is not about a job, it is a passion, it is an addiction and takes courage and risk taking and most of all a delight to know you have arrived home safely at the end of the day while changing someone’s life.

I am so proud of the team at the Biosphere Foundation and what we all have achieved (in such a short period of my time), I am so much looking forward to my next adventure which no doubt will be to continue to keep in touch with all of these great people, partners and landowners.

However, my job for now is over as Program Manager for the Western Port Biosphere Foundation, I will achieve more through the vast catchment experience I have, connections and most of all, the ever-increasing drive to implement action. For over 30 years of working in NRM, it wasn’t until my short stint at the Foundation that I discovered another excuse to get out and dirty and plant Mangroves in summer. Wow what a time.

It’s a full circle for me now, with my original reason for coming to the foundation in 2021 was to find out whether all the good work we do in the hills ends up?

Ironically, it is back to the hills for me, as now I am confident, we have the framework and capacity to address Climate Action across the two bays. Who knows, maybe Hills2Bays is my next adventure?


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