Finding a passion for the environment

 
I've always had a fascination with the ocean.  When I was kid and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was a marine biologist.  However life started to take me in a different direction and I found myself struggling to find a passion studying degrees in education, history, fine art and even philosophy. 

I started working full time so that I could travel - I volunteered at an elephant refuge in Thailand, backpacked Europe for a month solo, booked a surprise trip to Bali with my friend for her birthday, did a road trip on the west coast of the USA, attempted the trek to Base Camp in Nepal and explored India for three weeks with Intrepid.  After volunteering with elephants in Thailand, I petitioned against Flight Centre for advertising elephant rides in their shop windows.  After my petition sent 1500 emails to the marketing department I noticed the decal had been taken down from the store, and I think this is where my journey really began.  Funnily enough, I applied for a job with Flight Centre and worked there for four years. 

After 12 months as a travel agent I moved to head office looking after wholesale international bookings and started volunteering with their sustainable travel initiative Worldwise.  My job was to raise awareness of products that had been audited, that met the five pillars of sustainability - conserve water, reduce waste, go local, care about wildlife and respect people and culture.  During this time we also started the Green Commando group; volunteers in head office that were committed to making the building more sustainable.  I was the representative for level 8 at our global head office in South Bank, Brisbane and organised free keep cups for my colleagues, started a recycling station and emailed out a monthly newsletter with tips on how to reduce, reuse and recycle. 

This led to researching groups I could volunteer with outside of work and study options that aligned with my passion for the environment.  I discovered the incredible work that Sea Shepherd do all around the world, and loved their direct action approach to tackling issues with our oceans.  I applied to be an on-shore volunteer and have been working with the chapter in Brisbane since September 2019.  Since then I have started studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biology with minors in Earth Science and Sustainable Environments for Health.  I am the roster co-ordinator for Sea Shepherd Brisbane and a photographer, and soon to be videographer for local events and campaigns. 

I was lucky enough to be a part of a remote Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign in February 2021, cleaning up waste from islands off the coast of Brisbane.  It was shocking to see the extent of our impact on isolated conservation zones so close to home - our team of 22 volunteers and support crew collected nearly 500kg of rubbish in two days.  We also host monthly public beach cleans on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast.  People are always stunned at just how much debris a small group of volunteers can collect from a seemingly clean beach in one hour.  The most common items we find are cigarette butts, discarded fishing gear and single use plastics and food packaging.  Every month I see first hand the damage we are doing to our beaches and ocean, and it renews that burning desire to follow my passion to protect and conserve our marine environment.  My degree is a pathway to eventually work within ocean conservation fields and I've now come full circle since I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist as a child.

You can keep up with Britt on Instagram@theearthscientist

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