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Kevin Kenneally receives the Order of Australia for taking science to the people

Kevin received this prestigious award in 2005 in recognition of a lifetime spent inspiring young people to swap virtual reality for the world of nature. Kevin, a Research Scientist with the Department of Conservation and Land Management in Perth, has been appointed a Member in the Order of Australia.

The Governor of Western Australia, His Excellency - Lieutenant General John Sanderson and Kevin Kenneally (left) at the investiture ceremony, Government House, Perth, 8 April 2005.

"It's one of those things you expect other people to receive, and you never expect to be on the list," he said.

The award marked his service to the community through a range of organisations promoting environmental education, advancement of botanical knowledge and the interest of youth in natural history.

Kevin joined the WA Herbarium (now managed by CALM) 33 years ago as a botanist - "my profession" - and spent the next three decades taking science to the community.

"I'm a great believer in getting the community involved in nature conservation because the environment is everyone's responsibility," he said.

Kevin's links to the community began 35 years ago with his role as a councillor at the WA Gould League, one of Australia 's most respected and influential non-profit nature conservation education groups. He has been president of the Gould League for 21 years and each year 10,000 school children visit its headquarters at Herdsman Lake for excursions, sleepovers and weekend activities.

"Many of the young people with whom we worked are now employed by - CALM or the WA Museum in nature conservation areas, which is very rewarding," Kevin said.

He is a past president and honorary life member of the WA Naturalists Club, was convenor of the junior Naturalists' Club for 10 years, is a past president of the Kimberley Society and is also an Honorary Associate with the WA Museum, having worked with colleagues there for many years on biological surveys. Kevin is a recognised international authority on the vegetation and flora of the Kimberley having pioneered research in the region for over 30 years. In 1996 the project team he led were the first Western Australians to be awarded the CSIRO External Medal for research achievement for the book Broome and Beyond - Plants and People of the Dampier Peninsula.

Kevin is the Scientific Coordinator in charge of CALM's LANDSCOPE Expeditions, where for the last 13 years members of the public have paid to join and assist CALM's scientific expeditions in remote areas.

"We've raised $1.5 million for research in that time and had over 700 people participate in hands on research," he said.

Kevin said that to him, the Order of Australia recognised the importance of science in people's lives.

"In these days of virtual reality, it's much more exciting to get young people out doing something in the real world," he said. "We get young people interested in the environment, and give them an enlightened attitude so that they're well informed and can make balanced decisions on matters that affect future generations.

Kevin said although he received the award, he didn't do it alone. "Nothing would get done without the enormous help of our volunteers and colleagues - whom I thank very much," he said, adding he also had wonderful support from his wife, Dr Irene Ioannakis, who also works with young people in her role as Managing Director of the Caterpillar Institute.

"One of the lucky things about my career is that I've loved the work because it's also my hobby, and I worked during a period when there was a lot happening in the nature conservation area," he said.

Congratulatory letters were sent by Premier Geoff Gallop, former Premiers Sir Charles and Richard Court, -the Governor of Western Australia, His Excellency - Lieutenant General John Sanderson, AC and the WA Museum's Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ian McLeod.

Page last updated: Thursday 22 June 2023