We are pleased to bring you an update on our Indigenous Youth Ranger Program, where our trainee rangers have been achieving remarkable milestones.

Funded by the generous contributions from the 2023 SIMS Foundation Emerald Gala Dinner, this initiative is making significant strides in marine conservation education and hands-on training for Indigenous youths. To our knowledge, this is the first program of its kind in Australia focused on capacity building specific to marine conservation and restoration, incorporating two-way knowledge sharing with the SIMS team.

We introduced the program back in April and shared the progress of our rangers as they became snorkel and first aid certified. Now, just a few months later, our ranger team is gaining confidence in the water. They have received Open Water SCUBA certifications and have supported SIMS in significant events and programs, including installing seahorse hotels at Balmoral Beach and hosting the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP last Friday.

Rangers completing confined water training for their Open Water course
Ranger Yilara passing seahorses to divers for release

During Minister Plibersek’s visit, the rangers shared details about the program and their work while participating in the seahorse release. They played an active role in transporting seahorses down the wharf into the hands of our divers.

Next, the rangers will complete a Certificate in Marine Habitat Conservation and Restoration onsite at SIMS, combining their practical skills with education in marine science. Later this year, they will further advance their diving qualifications, including obtaining Advanced Open Water certifications. Later in the year they will undertake boating certifications in partnership with Tribal Warrior including a cert 1 in maritime operations and a NC3 coxswain license.

We are immensely proud of the rangers’ progress and their enthusiasm for each new challenge and opportunity. Each day, they become more confident in the knowledge and skills they acquire, returning with an appetite for more.

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting and rewarding program!

Ranger Profile: Yilara Widders

We are pleased to introduce one of our standout trainee rangers, 19-year-old Yilara Widders. Yilara is a proud Aboriginal woman hailing from Armidale, Narrandera, and Baryugil, with deep tribal connections to the Anaiwan, Wiradjuri, and Bunjalung peoples.

Yilara has been making significant strides in our program, and her enthusiasm is infectious. “We have been working with SIMS from the start of this year, and I’ve really been enjoying it,” she shared. “I love being in the water mostly as it makes me relaxed and gives me a clear mind. I love looking at all the different species underwater with their beautiful patterns and colours.”

Yilara has played a crucial role in many of our events and projects. Her confidence and dedication were particularly evident when she engaged with Minister Plibersek, discussing her work and personal growth within the program.

Her passion for marine conservation is clear in her eagerness to learn and contribute. “One thing I’m looking forward to is helping and understanding how to look after our water,” Yilara said. “I still don’t know much, but I’m very interested in what is good and bad for the water and how that affects us and our land, and then also how to prevent and fix these issues.”

Yilara’s dedication and curiosity are driving her to new heights, and we are excited to see her continue to grow and inspire others in our Indigenous Youth Ranger Program.

Ranger Yilara at Chowder Bay