Dedicated volunteer up for award

Sam GibbsHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Dolphin Discovery Centre volunteer Tarni Fortune and Nix the loggerhead turtle celebrate her nomination for the Seven News Young Achiever of the Year.
Camera IconDolphin Discovery Centre volunteer Tarni Fortune and Nix the loggerhead turtle celebrate her nomination for the Seven News Young Achiever of the Year. Credit: Sam Gibbs

Nominations for the Seven News Young Achiever are in and Leschenault teenager Tarni Fortune made the cut for her countless hours volunteering at the Dolphin Discovery Centre.

What started as a three-week work experience stint in 2016, the 16-year-old has been volunteering at the centre almost every Sunday since.

Tarni said she chose to complete her school-required community service at the centre because her stepdad skippered the tour boat but she never imagined she would be coming back every week.

“There’s always something to learn, each day is something new,” she said.

“It feels great to be recognised for what I’m doing here, when you’re here you’re just known as a volunteer like everyone else so it’s good to be recognised outside of that as well.”

Tarni is involved with looking after animals and giving tours, and has a soft spot for the turtles, having watched some grow into adulthood over the past two years.

She nominated herself when she received an email alert after winning of the South West Youth Volunteer of the Year Award in 2018.

Tarni’s mum Leanne Edwards said she was proud of her daughter and said she consistently went above and beyond in caring for animals at the centre.

“We were at the beach on Australia Day catching different species (of fish) to bring into stock the tanks, so she’s very hands-on,” Ms Edwards said.

Tarni is heading into her final year of school at Bunbury Catholic College and said she was not sure if marine science was the career path she would pick but was open to the possibility.

She is nominated for the Masonic Care WA/Freemasons WA Community Service and Volunteering category and the finalists will be announced on March 27.

“I don’t know what I want to do but it’s possible, I find a big interest in it and I’m interested in learning about the animals... so it could be something I’m going to do.

Tarni encouraged anyone with an interest in marine life or tourism to get involved with the centre, giving particular praise to the all the people she worked with.

“The highlight of my volunteering is teaching people about the different animals and making them understand how passionate we are to care for these animals,” she said.

“You couldn’t do a job like this without passion for the marine life and conservation of the different species and marine systems.”

Aquarium manager Jan Tierney said Tarni had proven herself to be an excellent volunteer who provides a valued contribution to the overall objectives of the Dolphin Discovery Centre.

“(She) is held in such high regard that we nominated her in the 2018 South West Volunteer of the Year Awards,” Ms Tierney said.

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