“We protect what we love”
Location: Laughing Waters, Eltham

Bella! Tell us a little about yourself and what inspires you each day.

I have always loved the natural world, and from a young age had an especially strong gravitation towards the ocean. When I was little, I fell madly in love with the Great Barrier Reef. School holidays were always spent in the water, snorkelling off the back of the boat, and learning all the intricacies of the reef in fine detail. I remember it being so overwhelming and so peaceful at the same time, and I was completely obsessed by the harmony of it all. 

Since then, I have completed my Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, and spent some time working on a snorkel and dive charter boat on the Great Barrier Reef giving snorkel tours and marine biology presentations. I realised then that I LOVED engaging in conversations about the incredible ecology of the reef, and I also realised that once people connect with these environments, they develop a love for it and a burning need to protect it. I think this is when my passion for environmental education was born. I’m now studying my Master’s degree in Teaching of Environmental Science and Biology, and I’m loving it!

My favourite hobbies include scuba diving, yoga, cooking/baking and exploring the rock pools near where I live in Victoria. My significant other is a 2004 Toyota Hiace van named Ron, who takes me on the most amazing adventures camping and exploring our beautiful country. Nature recharges and inspires me. I’m also so lucky to have so many incredible people in my life, who are all doing wonderful things for the people and the planet, big and small. They inspire me each day.

What does it mean to you to be a Nature Girl?
To me, being a Nature Girl means to be connected to nature, and to be constantly seeking ways to do better, and be better for the planet. It means striving for harmony and co-existence.

Have you taken part in conservation work or are you currently working on any projects?

Yes, I have! During my Marine Biology degree, I completed an internship for a small shark research and conservation facility in Indonesia. We dived all day collecting data to contribute to large-scale research projects, and to inform policy makers to take additional action to protect the marine reserve. I also now am a registered rescue and transport volunteer for Wildlife Victoria – so I’m constantly on call if wildlife in my area are injured or orphaned and need rescuing. It’s kind of like being a wildlife ambulance – I love it! I’m also super passionate about environmental education and I’m in the process of trying to kick start an environmental education project to connect young people with nature and wildlife so that they grow passionate about it, and therefore seek to protect it.

Favourite Australian Native animal? (I know they are probably all your favourite) so you can choose two! What makes them so special?

Such a tough question…I seriously love them all! But two of my favourites would have to be the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) – because I hear them every morning and evening and I their song always makes me so happy; and the Humphead/Māori Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) – because they are literally like underwater labradors… they are HUGE yet so friendly, gentle curious and I truly think they’re the most beautiful fish in the sea.

Are you a conscious consumer? What are a few key qualities or ingredients you look out for when you shop for food, clothing and beauty products?

Yes! Conscious consumerism is super important to me. As a vegan, and someone who cares super deeply about environmental conservation - I try to buy food that comes in as little packaging as possible when I can (no plastic, buying in bulk etc.); source products that are cruelty free/no animal testing (I learned recently that not all vegan products are cruelty free!); trying to eat as locally/seasonally as possible; and making as much of my own food as I can. I also try to shop second hand as much as I can. I’m definitely not perfect though, I just try to make sure that if I’m going to buy, it should be something that I love, need and will last me for a long time. 

Conscious consumerism to me is living less out of habit and unnecessary comfort, and more out of intent, which comes with personal research into sustainability and ethical practices of the brands that I chose to support/engage with. I also should mention that I’m super aware of my privilege with time and money to access more sustainable options, and I’m really big on the idea that if we all just do the best we can, then we’re on the right track! :)

We all say everything in moderation but what is your favourite thing to indulge in?
Vegan baked goods, yes please! Cookies, brownies, croissants, cakes … YUM! 

A phrase that is of significance to you?

“We protect what we love” – This reminds me of the importance of environmental education. We are only motivated to protect and care for what we love and are passionate about, and we can only love something if we understand it, and the only way to understand something is to learn about it. I truly think that connecting with nature and learning about the environment is key to its conservation. Knowledge is such a powerful tool for positive change.

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