As an environmental educator Abbie Mitchell has led programs for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and EcoXplore. Founding Kids Connecting Nature in 2015 she delivers curriculum-aligned hands-on environmental programs for schools, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, council and community groups, including the ‘Super Pollinators’ about native Australian bees, and ‘Hollow Heroes’, fostering hollow using animals.
Kids Connecting Nature is balanced with her other role, as the General Manager of Roots & Shoots (The Jane Goodall Institute), a program designed to inspire youth to identify local proactive solutions to the issues impacting biodiversity and humanity worldwide.
Abbie’s book A Hollow is a Home (CSIRO) explains complex conservation issues and scientific concepts by introducing young readers to the fascinating lives of over 340 Australian animals - united in their need for a tree hollow. The primary aim of the book is to provide that ‘penny drop moment’ about animal behaviour, their needs, interconnectedness, and the vital need to foster a sustainable environment. It was shortlisted for the Environmental Book of the Year 2020 (Wilderness Society), and the Children’s Book of the Year, Eve Pownall Award 2020 (Children’s Book Council Australia). Abbie’s passion as an educator is deeply influenced by her bushland upbringing and she strives to empower people to understand, celebrate and foster biodiversity.
In our conversation, we talk about environmental education and tree hollows for wildlife.
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Abbie Mitchell’s Books
[01:12] Coming from film and television to science.
[03:51] Attunement with the bush driving the passion for environmental education.
[06:13] The focus on tree hollows for ‘A Hollow is a Home’.
[06:44] The diverse range of animals that depend on tree hollows.
[08:32] Developing the themes for the book around the needs of the animals.
[10:40] The reason for a lot of tree hollow research based in Australia.
[13:50] How we mitigate the loss of tree hollows habitats.
[15:31] Conveying the ideas of preservation to the younger generation.
[18:02] The Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots Program.
[19:40] Community Project: Welcoming wombats at school.
[21:27] Service to the community.
[22:08] How the ideas for Roots & Shoots projects come about.
[23:46] The National Youth Leadership Council.
[27:06] Eco-anxiety and how to combat it.
[31:19] Thinking about our impact.
[33:39] The need to know the negatives as well as what is being done to change them.
[35:10] The opportunities to incorporate environmental sustainability in the school curriculum.
[35:47] Small changes with a greater effect.
[37:31] The joy of introducing nature to kids.
[39:49] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[39:55] Painting landscapes and nature.
[40:08] Hand-raising a magpie.
[44:22] Making models.
[47:34] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
[49:32] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
[54:24] Reaching out to Abbie.
- A Hollow is a Home by Abbie Mitchell (CSIRO Publishing) (BookDepository) (GoodReads)
- The Jane Goodall Institute
- Roots & Shoots
- Gibbons, P. and Lindenmayer, D. (2002). Tree Hollows and Wildlife Conservation in Australia, CSIRO Publishing. (CSIRO Publishing)
- Wombat school - Roots and Shoots mini-grants
- ReWild your School
- The National Youth Leadership Council
- Thumbs up for Turtles
- WA Museum Boola Bardip
- Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel C Pedley (BookDepository) (GoodReads)
- Rivertime by Trace Balla (BookDepository) (GoodReads)
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