The last two weeks have been so fun packed and busy I don’t even know where to start this post. I have been very strict with myself in keeping a diary whilst here, something I have never had much success at doing in the past, but even flicking back over the pages of my scrawling’s, there is far too much to condense down. So I shall commit to one topic, our personal projects, and sorry family and friends you are welcome to see all the photos from the last two weeks or read the hard copy when I am next around!
As part of the Professional Development module of the Zoox Experience Program (ZEP) we are assessed upon our past experiences and areas of interest within the extensive and multi-layered world of conservation. To those of you reading who are not conservationist and think it’s all about saving the rainforest, or the whales and the dolphins, please let me assure you conservation is not so simple!
In addition to the knowledge gained at university through reading conservation biology, I acquired report writing skills, data analysis skills, and my course lecturers where very keen to ensure surveying, and monitoring skills were expanded on with each year of study. I gained essential life skills and adaptability through living abroad to complete my diving qualifications, and with half of this time spent working at a dive centre, I also developed teaching and communication skills, on top of a hard-core work code! Despite this, I was under qualified for almost all jobs I applied for, and did not fancy heading back to uni to complete a masters unless I was 100% committed.
One of the first tasks we were assigned with after arriving on the ZEP was to create a presentation that introduced ourselves, but first and foremost, would outline to the rest of the team what we hoped to get out of the 9 weeks we were to be here. It was a question I know we all struggled with addressing. There is the obvious answer, the all-essential experience and shiny new skills set, but we had not all travelled 7000 miles for just experience, and what shiny new skills did we want? Most importantly what shiny new skills did we need? At this stage during the first week I only knew loosely what career I was hoping to pursue and that involved two and a half things…
1. Being associated with a company/organisation that was carrying out marine conservation;
1.5 Possibly with focuses towards developing and encouraging social-ecological benefits;
2. Above all else being associated with a company/organisation who operated with an honest work ethic.
Not really an awful lot to go on, or specific enough to jump onto a search engine and find my dream job on the first page!
As I have mentioned in my previous posts, Sam and Alan have offered us plenty of tips and ideas throughout the ZEP modules. They have encouraged us to challenge ourselves by investigate potential job requirements that we may not have otherwise had the chance to explore, and have guided us to identify what aspects of the conservation sector we find most interesting.
Based upon our personal interests, but more importantly that troublesome experience we currently lack, Ans, Belinda and I have each been assigned a different assignment to undertake for what was the remaining 7 weeks, and is now 5! We will research, organise and manage these projects on top of the Green Fins work, and will complete a report of our progress and/or findings at the end of the program.
I will let Ans and Belinda explain their own ventures in their own time, however I feel that Sam and Alan have outdone themselves by ticking all the right boxes for mine. My mission, one which I have actively accepted, is to “Enhance the education and awareness of public stakeholders with regards marine environment threats and mitigations”. This task has created the opportunity for me to work closely with officers from the local municipal agriculture and fisheries department, and local barangay captains, in the establishment of an environmental information and educational campaign, and curriculum for local boat crews. In addition to this I shall also be implementing marine environmental training for the children at local elementary school.
Now, kind Reader, you can understand why there has just been too much to write about!
Consequently the last week I have seen perhaps a slightly more realistic side to conservation, having had a very productive time reading journals, government papers, and past ZEPer’s reports. In addition to spending a great deal of hours building a very one-sided relationship with Powerpoint, and honestly, I have loved every minute!
The only day this week I did venture out of the office, Ans, Hannah and I had a very successful day booking Green Fins assessments, and training sessions with dive centres in Sabang. So this coming week I am dusting off my Green Fins hat/dive hood and am looking forward to some diving!