Emily Pont shares her experiences volunteering as an intern, her passion for raising the voices of Aboriginal Australians, and the value of environmental and cultural heritage to her generation.
What prompted you to volunteer with the National Trust (NSW)?
I had just graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology) degree. I was curious to gain experience within an independent charity and understand what goes into fundraising and advocacy for a conservation-focused organisation like the National Trust.
How did you spend your days as an intern?
My days varied depending on what kind of help was needed across the development team, including fundraising and membership. I often spent time engaging with members about their ongoing support for the National Trust, updating memberships, informing members about upcoming events and capturing feedback. It was a lovely opportunity to speak with people who are passionate about heritage, conservation and the protection of our environment. I also had the opportunity to work on the video production of the virtual Portia Geach exhibition on show at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, and to do research for the end-of-year advocacy appeal.
What did you gain from your experience?
I gained valuable experience in applying the research skills that I’d learnt in my degree and a greater understanding of how they might be utilised in the workplace. It was great to see what goes into fundraising behind the scenes for a philanthropic organisation and how research impacts the not-for-profit sector. I was also exposed to the ways the team at the National Trust find new ideas and projects to encourage community engagement in areas of conservation. It was wonderful to see the broad range of issues the National Trust was passionate about advocating for, including bush regeneration and Indigenous Australian land rights.
Why should people volunteer at the National Trust?
Volunteering at the National Trust is a great way to contribute to the protection and conservation of Australia’s natural and cultural history. Volunteers are really valued and looked after by all staff. Along with the lovely, like-minded people, it is a great organisation to be involved in if you are passionate about preserving and appreciating our environment.
What does the National Trust mean to you?
While I was volunteering, I was in the process of saying goodbye to my life-loving Grandma. Being at the National Trust made me feel closer to her and the values that she passed onto me about giving back to your community. She was always taking me and my sisters to various heritage sites and cultural events, reminding us about the importance of connecting with your past in a fun and experiential way, which is what I believe that National Trust does for so many families.
Why is heritage important to you?
Younger generations may get a bad rap for not appreciating or understanding the value of heritage. However, we are passionate and determined to learn from the past in order to shape a better future, not just for us but for generations to come. We feel so strongly about continuing to enjoy and protect the incredible natural landscape that we’re lucky enough to experience, as well as taking much better care of it.
If you’re interested in volunteering at the National Trust (NSW), please get in touch.
This story first featured in the National Trust New South Wales magazine which gets delivered to members quarterly. Become a member today and receive many exclusive benefits.