During our Christmas get-together we took the opportunity to surprise Ian Cooley with a plaque and thank you speech from Andrew Wooldridge.
“Ladies and gentlemen of Mid Lachlan Landcare, my job tonight is to say a few words to acknowledge and honour Ian Cooley. Those of you who know Ian would agree that to truly honour him I will be brief and to the point and I will speak with total honesty.
I want to talk about the visitors to the Cooley Farm ‘Westville’ –
- We started counting tour groups that visited Westville in 2000
- Since 2000 there has been 4802 people who have walked around Westville with MLL volunteers and staff.
- Westville has hosted 236 different groups
- Most groups are between 10 -20 people
There have been –
- 23 agency groups made up of mainly public servents
- 10 training groups who made studying Westville part of formal technical training
- 33 community landcare groups from across Australia
- 21 university groups of staff ,undergraduate and post grad students
- 159 visits from 38 different schools from across NSW and ACT.
Most schools have multile visits –
– Bede Polding College has sent student groups every year for 21 years
– Nicole Evans is a high school ag science teacher from western Sydney. Nicole has bought groups from the 3 different schools she has worked at.
It takes a special rare person to open their farm their home, and business to so many complete strangers with such generosity.
What do all these people come to see?
They come to see the Westville landscape. A vision for how the Australian Landcape can produce healthy food and support families and communities.
How we can learn from the past, design a different future and make it happen!
They come to see sophisticated land management practises and a revegetation program which manages soil erosion, water quality salinity, biodiversity and animal welfare….all done by one family over a period of more than 25 years.
They learn that this thing some people call Landcare farming or natural resource management is called business as usual at Westville. It is part of the yearly farming program. Not a special one off project.
Ian has taught me many things about land management –
- I know that if your children/workforce are complaining about the weather during a tree planting job you motivate them by putting the warm dry ute at the far end of the tree row.
- I know that if those same workers are being swooped by magpies while putting on tree
guards you issue them with special protective headwear – that looks a little bit like a plastic
ice cream container – and the job must go on
Ian Cooley You are a leader in our community – You have taught us to get on with it
Ladies and gentlemen – it should be done, in can be done, the Cooley family are doing it.“