Richie Benson wins young Landcare Leader Award

FROM setting up a composting system and vegie garden at his Hawkesbury primary school to successfully creating the hugely popular Koala Fest in the Hawkesbury, local community member Richie Benson's contribution to the local environment has been significant.

Now, the 21-year-old has been named the winner of the Young Landcare Leader award, at a recent forum run by Greater Sydney Local Land Services.

Mr Benson was among more than 150 volunteers and supporters who took part in the forum which recognises the outstanding contribution of environmental volunteers throughout the region.

Greater Sydney Land Services Manager Vanessa Keyzer said the sheer volume of Richie's achievements was inspiring.

"In a time when it can be a struggle to get youth engaged in the importance of caring for our natural environment, what Richie has done and continues to do is hugely significant," she said.

"He founded the Cumberland Reach Landcare group to improve the riverbank through regular planting events and managed to raise awareness among his neighbours in order to get them on board which is no mean feat and most recently established Koala Fest which saw more than 1000 residents attend and learn about the importance of preserving the local koala population and their habitat."

Ms Keyzer said Richie was also the youngest management committee member on the Hawkesbury Environment Network and sits on the committee of the Hawkesbury Landcare Network.

At the 2019 Hawkesbury Show Richie was on the Hawkesbury Council stand where he gave away nearly 1000 native plants to members of the public, provide one on one consultations to people on the best soil types and other environmental factors for each individual plant.

Richie said it was an honour to be recognised as the Greater Sydney Young Landcare Leader for 2019.

"Right now, is our chance to get things right. If we don't step up and take responsibility for our actions, we will lose so much more. I am pleased to live in a community which still has healthy natural environments to protect, while being surrounded my many dedicated people," he said.

Richie is now one of seven Greater Sydney Landcare award winners in the running for a NSW Landcare award, to be announced at the NSW Landcare and Local Land Services conference gala dinner in Broken Hill on 23 October 2019.