Making the regional parklands a better place for pets

Mars Petcare is one of the largest employers in Albury Wodonga.  Over the past decade, Mars Petcare has undertaken a range of volunteer projects across the regional parklands.

What was the initial interest?

Every year Mars Petcare gather all 400+ Associates together for a planning day. Half of the day is spent undertaking a volunteer project.

Whilst smaller teams have participated in a number of tree planting and watering projects with Parklands Albury Wodonga over the years, our largest project was in 2012 when 400 Mars Petcare Associates rolled up their sleeves for a significant upgrade to the popular dog walking Waterworks Reserve on the Murray River. In one day, half a kilometre of Murray River frontage was opened up to the public with over 400 bollards cemented in, ten picnic tables and 4 tonnes of mulch spread around previous planting sites. With plenty of open space to walk the dog, usage of this popular swimming and picnic reserve has increased significantly.

Mars the Company and Associates have been guided by our Five Principles of Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom for generations.   Of course, most businesses consider quality, responsibility, and efficiency to be important.

What distinguishes Mars is how we embed these Principles in our approach to business, and commit to doing business in ways that create mutual benefits for all those involved in our success. In addition, we believe that as a private, family-owned business, we have more freedom than others to make long-term investments in tackling the grand challenges facing our business and planet, such as climate change and food security. We support measures to address these challenges through our work on scientific research and discovery.

Benefit for business:

At Mars, we want to make the world a better place for pets. Back in 1966, we established a Petcare Information and Advisory Service – the first resource of its kind in Australia. 

For over 45 years, we’ve been supporting responsible pet ownership through research, education and community programs;
• 1960s to 1970s, this work centred around helping Australians care for their pets.
• 1980s to 1990s, the focus was on the health benefits of pets
• 2000’s, the focus has been about pets and community wellbeing.

Along the way, we’ve supported or commissioned research ranging from a 1976 landmark study, the first to critically appraise the role of pet ownership in Australia, through to the effects of urban planning on the ability of people to keep pets, and the health benefits and health cost savings due to pets.

As a family-owned company for nearly a century, we have traditionally communicated more about our brands than about ourselves as a business. Creating more pet-friendly open spaces is good for business.

Over the past 15 years, Mars Petcare Associates have participated in a wide diversity of parklands projects in terms of scale and activities.  All have focused on creating spaces to make it a better world for pets.

Some of the many projects include:

  • Waterworks Upgrade - nearly 400 Associated opened up an additional 1/2km of Muray River frontage for park users and dog walkers in one day in March 2012.  Ten picnic tables, 500 bollards and 4 tonnes of mulch and 10 pallets of recycled cardboard were installed.
  • Ryans Lagoon Wetlands Restoration - nearly 4,000 native seedlings were planted and guarded into this nationally significant wetland.  This site is just upstream of the Waterworks Reserve and is planned to become part of the Murray River Adventure Trail. 
  • Huon Hill Revegetation Challenge - The Mars Petcare Challenge was to volunteer with the community. However, did this team know that the Parklands challenge was to clamber up some of the steepest gullies on Huon Hill Parklands to plant shrubs?   The "Team Extreme" went on a steep hike to reach their planting site, carting all their tools, materials and plants with them. Meanwhile "Team Awesome" ensured that more than one thousand seedlings were planted and guarded by afternoon tea.   Thank you to Mars Petcare for both their mega efforts and for their donation of $1,000 towards the regional parklands.

Benefits for staff:

The project provided an excellent opportunity for the company’s employees to contribute back to their local community in an environmentally sustainable way.  In addition it demonstrated Mars Petcare’s commitment to making a difference in the local community.

At Mars Petcare Wodonga our Associates embrace the magic of pet ownership and often bring their cats and dogs into the office for the day creating an exciting a fun atmosphere for both the pets and the Associate.

Being a privately owned company gives us the freedom to take a long-term view. We can make investments that demonstrate our responsibility not only to our owners, but to all the people and communities with whom we work. Our approach is focused on creating lasting, mutual benefits for our business and all those involved in its success.

Glen Cuthbert, Safety Environment and Security Manager for Mars Petcare, said the project also generated significant levels of community pride in employees.  “An employee who participated in the planting event was watching the television is his local bar just after the event, when a news report of the event was shown,” said Mr Cuthbert. “A lady sitting next to him remarked that it was fantastic to have such a wonderful company doing great things like that in the community."

“Our employee couldn’t help but feel proud of the company he worked for, which we have found is very common among those who participated in the event. “Every time we visit Waterworks we see pet owners interacting with their pets. “We feel a lot of pride in giving to our community,” Mr Cuthbert said.

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