Over the past 5 months one of our Year 10 students has embarked on a Science Leadership Journey. Amy applied for and was given a scholarship to attend the Zoo’s Victoria Youth Leadership program. On Friday 16 September, Amy will complete her graduation ceremony and we wish her the best of luck with her leadership ambitions.

Please read about Amy’s experience below.

Throughout the year I have been participating in Zoos Victoria’s Youth Leadership program. It is a group of 30, Year 9 and 10 science students from across the state developing tangible and usable science skills while growing as a leader in a group environment. We learn from Zoos Victoria mentors and industry leaders and are supported to undertake a science research project that will help inform a future wildlife conservation campaign run by the team at Zoos Victoria.

We began the program with a visit to Melbourne Zoo. I met with the conservation campaigns team, who explained our role in helping to collect research for a potential new campaign about soft plastics litter and marine animals. We also discussed the differences between power, authority, and leadership and competed in a race around the zoo, collecting clues and working together to solve puzzles. Finally, we finished the day with a talk about animal experiences, animal welfare and Zoos Victoria policies on these issues by meeting with education coordinators and the star tortoises.

I have participated in 8 days so far and some of my highlight experiences have been:

  • Visiting Healesville Sanctuary and going on a nature walk with Murrindindi, a Wurundjeri Elder, who shared some of his history and culture through powerful his powerful life stories and activities
  • Collecting data about the biodiversity of shells found along the beach at St Kilda Pier for a citizen science project
  • Visiting Degraves recycling facility in Melbourne’s inner city to see how local businesses and Council work together to reduce the food waste of local cafes and restaurants
  • Explored the waterways at Werribee Open Range Zoo and their importance to humans and wildlife with the Werribee River Keepers by analysing water samples
  • Discovered ethograms and practiced on meerkats, kookaburras, curlews, and baboons
  • Went on a behind the scenes experience with the elephants, laying out enrichment in their exhibit and watching them enjoy it
  • Learnt about science leadership and decision making by chatting with Dr Jenny Gray, the CEO of Zoos Victoria
  • Learnt about the importance of volunteering from the volunteer manager at Zoos Victoria.

I am so grateful for this experience, as I have had the opportunity to meet with so many amazing industry experts and learn about not only science and conservation but their life experiences and the journey they took to be where they are today. I have also made some incredible lifelong friends and met many young adults that have the same passions as me.

I would like to thank Ms Attard for being my mentor teacher throughout the program. Thank you for not only helping me to receive a scholarship to the program and distributing surveys but always being there to help, support and encourage me. I have a graduation lunch on the last day of term and I can’t wait to share the knowledge I have learnt throughout the program with the Penola community

Amy H (10C)