The Story of EYE – the short version
EYE started out in 2007 when a group of students that had been on nature camps in our primary and middle school years convinced two of our former teachers that it would be a good idea to get out into the bush for weekend camps. We started bringing our friends along too, and the connection to nature and love of the planet that followed inspired us all to want to do something more. Self-education about urgent environmental issues, plus guidance from inspirational and knowledgeable mentors soon led to the group evolving into an active environmental youth movement – and Bellingen EYE (Environmental Youth Experience) was born.
For the next few years, EYE held small camps, participated in community environmental events, and kept educating ourselves. Then towards the end of 2008, we were given an amazing opportunity – a three-year Partnership Grant with the Foundation for Young Australians. We first received $10,000 to carry out a 3 month process of Community Mapping /Visioning/ Project Proposal Writing, and then $190,000 to carry out our Project for the next three years. So not only were we able to create an amazing Project (see “Aims” page) along with goals, objectives, evaluation tools, and detailed budget…but then were given the money to carry out this Project. We felt VERY lucky!
Throughout 2009, 2010, and now into 2011, EYE has been enjoying this amazing journey. Our Leadership Group has developed into an amazing bunch of dedicated, passionate and dynamic youth, who are constantly busy training the “next generation”. We have a strong and dedicated group of adult Mentors, and a knowledgeable Advisory Group to guide us along.
Since 2007, we have held 15 camps and 6 bushwalks, with over 250 youth participants. We have helped our local Landcare group regenerate countless local creeks. We have received the support of over 800 individuals, 54 local businesses, the Bellingen Shire Council, and the Bellingen Chamber of Commerce for our “Plastic Bag Free Bellingen” campaign.
Our newest local partnership is with Bellingen High School and the Bellingen Community Gardens Association, as EYE members and Bello High students learn to grow and process their own organic food at a beautiful garden plot located on school grounds. Further afield, we are continuing to enjoy our partnership with the Taronga Zoo YATZ (Youth at the Zoo) – as they come up to experience EYE camps and EYE delegations travel down to Sydney to share EYE with the city kids.
EYE is now planning for our next phase – which will begin when our FYA funding ends at the end of this year. We are determined to continue to provide our amazing camps and programs for as many youth as we can…… and are looking at many creative solutions as to how best to do this. Watch this space!
The (detailed) Story of EYE – the longer (but extremely interesting) version (get a cuppa, sit down, and enjoy…)