Turtle conservation program wins Eureka Prize

The 1 Million Turtles (1MT) Community Conservation Program has won the 2023 Department of Industry, Science and Resources Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science.

1MT was recognised in last night’s 2023 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science.

Led by ecologists and social scientists including Associate Professor Ricky Spencer from Western Sydney University’s School of Science, the highly successful national citizen science program is a collaboration between partners and the community.

Co-lead Associate Professor Ricky Spencer said the award recognised the efforts of the program’s many contributors, including hundreds of dedicated citizen scientists.

“1MT brings together researchers, industry, government and the community to work towards a common goal of conserving turtle populations across the nation. As a team, we’re incredibly proud to have been recognised for our innovative approach to achieving this,” said Associate Professor Spencer.

1MT uses the TurtleSAT app to involve citizen scientists in hands-on activities such as habitat construction and restoration, nest protection and fox management.

Emphasising science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) literacy and First Nations knowledge, the Australia-wide program has influenced policy and saved over 1000 freshwater turtles and 200 nests in 2022 alone.

Professor Deborah Sweeney, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Research, Enterprise and International, offered her warm congratulations to all involved.

“This significant award reflects Western Sydney University’s world-class research, impact and partnerships, highlighted through the success of an innovative program that is deeply engaged with the community,” said Professor Sweeney.

1MT is a collaboration between researchers, conservation Non-Governmental Organisations (Aussie Ark, Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife), universities (Western Sydney, La Trobe, Sydney, Murdoch, New England, Ohio University), government agencies (Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board, Transport for NSW, Department for Industry, Science, Energy and Resources), wildlife organisations (WIRES), communities (including Turtles Australia and Turtle Rescues NSW) and schools.

To find out more about the program, visit the 1MT website (opens in a new window).


24 August 2023

Ali Sardyga, Senior Media Officer

Photo credit: Tim Levy for Australian Museum