27 Apr 2021
YARNING ACROSS GENERATIONS
They were born decades and worlds apart, but two WWF-Australia champions are celebrating WWF's 60th anniversary by reflecting on their shared passion for nature.
Earth Hour Campaign Coordinator Jasmine Ledger and long-time WWF Indigenous Engagement Manager, Wakka Wakka Traditional Owner Cliff Cobbo, are a dynamic duo, brought together by our inspiring Yarning Across Generations project.
Two journeys, one milestone
Though their life experiences are vastly different, they exemplify WWF's commitment to collaboration, diversity and partnerships that span cultures and generations. Partnerships that honour the rich heritage of our First Nations people yet also draw on today's innovations.
Cliff grew up in a tiny rural town in southeast Queensland, one of 10 children and deeply connected to Country. His childhood was filled with fishing and swimming and other outdoor adventures, the days book-ended by the rising and setting of the sun. "We were always out in the bush," he says. "It was our playground."
For the past 12 years, Cliff has been a vital member of the Panda team, helping us to build relationships with Traditional Owners and their communities, so we can work together to care for nature. Their cultural contributions to WWF’s contemporary efforts have been an invaluable asset to conservation programs on Country. "If we can trust and learn from the past, our future will be a much better place," Cliff says.
Finding nature in the Sydney suburbs
In stark contrast to her colleague, second-generation Australian Jasmine grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. Her outdoor experiences were confined to an overgrown suburban backyard until family trips to the Myall Lakes awakened teenage Jasmine. "I began to realise the fun of being outside. I remember seeing all sorts of animals that I didn't know existed," she says. "It's probably why I love nature so much now. When I go for a hike or somewhere new, I feel like I am a kid again."
While tertiary studies in environmental science and management now inform Jasmine's conservation ethos, Cliff's approach is guided by years of experience, intimate connection, and generations of cultural knowledge. As a Traditional Custodian, he says he has a responsibility to look after his Country. "Every time I go home, it replenishes my being," he says. "Being back with my family is sometimes like a religious experience."
With international travel curtailed, Jasmine has enjoyed more opportunities in the past year than ever before to connect with her Australian landscape. "I used to be focused on exploring the world. Having more time has allowed me to find unexpected places that have become special to me," she says. " I've got so much to learn from Cliff, whose knowledge of Australia is so much more intimate than mine."
Connecting with each other to protect Country
Respectfully sharing stories and solutions has been a hallmark of WWF's conservation efforts for 60 years. "Connecting people with each other, that's what WWF does really well," says Cliff. "I've seen the passion WWF staff put into their work to protect the places we all love. They are at the forefront, building relationships, advocating, giving voice to power to address environmental crises."
It's a challenge that Jasmine has wholeheartedly embraced. "When you’re sitting in nature, and everything is still, there's a feeling you get that can't be replicated," she says. "Why wouldn't you want to keep that safe? Even within my short lifetime, I have seen things change. But, working for WWF, I get to see how our organisation is having a positive impact."
As Cliff says, change is constant, it's incremental and sometimes dramatic. "It's time to give Nature her dues and ensure she can thrive and continue to sustain us," he says. "We are all custodians of this place; we are all connected to Country and have a responsibility to look after it. We need to bring Jasmine's generation together with the knowledge of my generation to find the solutions, so we can leave a better place for those yet to come."