Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
I received a travel enrichment grant in order to further my knowledge on conservation efforts taking place in Australia. Australia is full of natural wonders, both scenic and living. I was interested in seeing these first hand and learning about what they are doing to preserve these wonders for the future.
My grant allowed me to take part in the top three activities that I wanted to experience while in Australia. The first being going to an animal sanctuary near the university I was attending called Billabong. I went here within my first week of being in the area and it was a great introduction to Australian wildlife. I was able to hang out with kangaroos, get close to a dingo, and even hold a koala! This sanctuary represented a local conservation effort, as the inhabitants were from the surrounding state of Queensland. I was able to talk with some of the workers and learn about how the animals are taken care of as well as their partnerships with other sanctuaries to aid species populations that may be declining.
The second area this grant allowed me to visit was the Great Barrier Reef. I travelled up to Cairns in order to get to one of the more scenic areas of the reef. After 2 hours on a boat, I finally arrived to what merely looked like a drop zone in the middle of the ocean. However, once getting into snorkeling gear and jumping into the water, I was able to see the beauty of the reef beneath me. I saw many kinds of fish, different colors and types of reef, and even got to see a sea turtle! The Great Barrier Reef is the focus of many conservation projects as it has been slowly eroding due to mass tourism and pollution. The area I was in is less visited and a more controlled area in order to keep it protected; therefore, the diversity that I saw was greater than other areas may be.
The last place I went to was the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, whose main focus is the conservation of wildlife. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain the day I went. This did, however, give me an almost private day at the zoo! I was able to see an even greater array of Australian wildlife than I had already seen and compare how the zoo conservation efforts differed from that of the sanctuary.
My semester abroad in Australia was the experience of a lifetime. I am truly grateful for the grant that I received and all that it allowed me to do!