The Bookend Trust, based at the University of Tasmania, is a not-for-profit education initiative seeking to inspire students and their communities about the positive environmental careers they can build, making the world a better place.
The UTAS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Rathjen, congratulated the Trust on the award: "UTAS staff and alumni contribute greatly to the Bookend Trust, helping to give young people an understanding of environmentalism and providing student scholarships.
"Many Tasmanians who become involved in Bookend Trust programs come to UTAS to study in environmentally-related areas so that they can contribute to the community in the careers they choose."
Bookend Trust director Dr Niall Doran said he and his Trust colleagues are honoured by the award, especially as it is usually given to an individual.
"Bookend is a positive philanthropic initiative created and run by UTAS staff and alumni who are concerned about building a positive and co-operative environmental future for our students and community," he said.
"We started this work voluntarily as we feel privileged in our careers and wish to pass this inspiration and opportunity to the next generation. It is available online to interested schools, students and interested individuals anywhere around the world.
"Although our work started in Tasmania we now have projects across Australia with schools and regional communities from Darwin to Geraldton. Our strength lies in the diversity of our projects and partnerships."
The Australian Geographic award is the third national award won by the Bookend Trust recently. In April Adventure teacher Andrew Hughes won Penguin Australiaâ€™s Power of One Award for two programs he runs; a week ago the United Nations Association of Australia awarded the Trust its World Environment Day Award for Community Outreach.
Bookend projects include:
- Expedition Class: an interactive student interface for primary schools, where students follow adventurer and teacher Andrew Hughes in the wilderness by satellite link and ask him questions live online as he's working;
- Skullbone: a secondary school project where students expand on the interactive experience above by participating in wildlife and wilderness surveys on the ground;
- Envirothon Australia: an environmental competition for years 11-12 where students build on the above programs to demonstrate their level of understanding of these issues and the species involved through an extra-curricular environmental competition involving detailed field tests and environmental impact assessments set at a tertiary education level. In 2011, Bookend Trustâ€™s winning team went to Lord Howe Island to participate in research into the death of sea birds due to excessive plastic consumption in the Tasman Sea.
- Summer Scholarships: a program for school-leavers to 'taste test' different university level field studies (potentially gaining preliminary university academic and financial credits) to see if different types of environmental careers appeal to them.
- General UTAS scholarships: a university-level scholarship program supporting students in any discipline providing their work has environmental benefit/application and they are prepared to help mentor school students and communicate with the public.
Bookend Trust team with their World Environment Day trophy: From left to right - Ninna Millikin (media producer); Peter Harcourt (cameraman/editor); Dr Alastair Richardson (academic director); Dr Niall Doran (director); Andrew Hughes (education officer); Felicity Wilkinson (Envirothon planner); Dr Regina Magierowski (Envirothon coordinator).