STUDENTS TODAY AND CREATING THE LEADERS FOR TOMORROW
The Indigenous program recently funded by Qantas for the first time and the non-Indigenous program, very generously funded by the George Alexander Foundation over the last eight years, provides these students the opportunity to see what scientific research is really like and to fulfil our mission of influencing a positive change in behaviour in the years to come. This year, students joined leading scientists on three exciting research projects around Australia.
Margaret Tran joined the Melbourne’s Microbats expedition in January 2016, that took students to rural Victoria to gather data on the impact of roads, light and sound on microbats’ movements, population changes or decline in numbers and their over-all health.
She said: “I am now super interested in scientific research after this experience and am gearing towards a career in either medicine or scientific / environmental research.”
One Indigenous student, Tyrell Roadley, from Muswelbrook - two hours North West of Newcastle NSW, said he was looking for a way to better connect with nature.
“It's a good deed helping the environment and animals living in these areas… and I believe that giving back to the earth is something that needs to be done on both a physical and spiritual level – it’s out of respect,” he said
Tyrell said the expedition provided him a better understanding of what we can do as humans to care for our environment and the species that inhabit it and rely on a healthy ecosystem for their survival.
By the end of the week, these students became field experts, taking GPS coordinates, setting up light equipment, non-invasive traps and other research equipment. They are left with a new understanding of how important the role of science is in conserving and preserving our environment.
The opportunity not only provides students the chance to deepen their understanding and appreciation of science and nature, but also to make life-long friends.
Margaret said she was interested in connecting and socialising with other students who shared the same passions and she’s now made friends for life.
However, getting closer to nature was the ‘icing on the cake’ for her.
“I now respect and understand the environment more than ever,” she said.
Buj bringing in the Fyke nets
Emily Bujdegan, another Indigenous student better known as Buj, participated on“Turtles on the Move” in December 2015, researching turtles in freshwater lakes and wetlands around Melbourne to understand how urban development is impacting their movement.
Buj said: “I suddenly understood why I see ‘seemingly pointless’ developments and features in my local environment, but behind them there's years of research, problem-solving, and planning to protect the ecosystem there.”
Students using camera sled to photograph the sea floor
Sailing for Seagrass volunteer, Jessica Hart sailed around in a catamaran for one week in Moreton Bay QLD, mapping seagrass meadows in the bay. Seagrass plays an important role in food sources for dugongs, fish and maintaining the overall health of the bay.
Jessica said the project was out of her comfort zone, having never researched marine ecosystems before. She left with a much more respectful attitude towards our environment.
“I find myself hoping that I can get out into the field again sometime in the next few years. The knowledge I have been left with from this expedition has made me more motivated to help in the field of science,” she said.
To see more on the Student Challenge program and express interest for next season go to: http://au.earthwatch.org/education/student-fellowships/student-challenge-australia
Earthwatch is committed to educating our youth of today to create the passionate leaders we need for tomorrow. You can donate towards Student Challenge by clicking on this link and help us to support the on-going financial needs of the program