Volunteers are a underappreciated bunch, but make a significant economic and social impact in all societies. Statistics tell us that more than 30% of the Australian population volunteer at any one time. In 2006 5.2 million people (34% of over 18’s) had engaged in voluntary work of some kind in the preceding 12 months. Interestingly, employed people made up more of that volunteer force than unemployed, and in 2006, less than 10% of volunteers were involved in environmental activities.

Well, the School of Ants is on the volunteer bandwagon. We believe that engaging interested and skilled amateur scientists, students and anyone else willing to turn up, is key to increasing volunteers in environmental and ecological happenings. But more than this – we want to infuse into our societies an understanding of the process of science, the ups, downs and wins of tedious lab work, the satisfaction of specimen curation and identification, and perhaps the joyous moment of finding a new species!  All this while in a social, supportive and frankly, quite entertaining atmosphere.

Our summer volunteer days are in full swing, and in the lab we’ve currently got five regular volunteers involved in processing raw specimens, illustrating common ants of New England, and identifying and managing specimen collections.  We share techniques, stories and frustrations as well as morning tea, usually provided by my Mum and Dad (thanks guys!).

I’m super excited at the progress we’re making with specimens, and I couldn’t have processed as much as we have without them.  And if you’re curious – COME JOIN US!


VOLUNTEER DAYS are Tuesdays 9am – 12pm in the Zoology building at UNE. 

We’re in lab Z3 opposite the Zoology Museum. What a great chance to have a squiz at the museum while you’re there! The volunteer days will run every week in January and February, but we’re taking a break between Christmas and New Year.

Contact Kirsti Abbott on or just turn up to Zoology 9am on a Tuesday.

Other Ant News

We skittered around Australia in 2015

May 19, 2016 11:18 pm

We ventured out of our nest in Armidale in 2015 and skittered around a big part of Australia. The epic ant trail

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School of Ants citizen science workshops contribute to biodiversity knowledge and inspire action

March 2, 2016 10:50 am

The last weekend in February was full of brain exploding ideas, networking and contributions to citizen science projects for 40 participants

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School of Ants at the Alice Springs Desert SMART EcoFair

August 19, 2015 11:23 pm

School of Ants has recently been exploring the ants of arid Australia, and sharing ant stories with those at the Alice

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