Going in to bat for science


It’s booked! Excited to announce I’ve signed up for my second research expedition with Earthwatch Australia and this time, it’s an overnighter!

The expedition is called Melbourne’s Microbats, and I’ll be working with a small group of citizen scientists (and one actual scientist) to trap and band these miniature creatures in the Royal Botanical Gardens. We’re doing this to record important data about the bats including their species, sex, age, reproductive stage, food supply and habitat.

Earthwatch says:

Eating up 600 mosquitoes an hour is just one of the ways the tiny, fragile microbat helps keep the balance in our ecosystem.

…Information [gathered on this expedition] will establish baseline data on the community composition and critical habitat requirements of insect-eating bats across greater Melbourne, and it will help us develop ways to conserve their populations.

My booking is for the first week of December and I can’t wait!


earthwatch logo


Happy International Day of Forests!

Here are a couple of posts I designed for the Wilderness Society Victoria facebook page to celebrate International Day of Forests (today!). This is a critical time for our environment, and today is about celebrating our remaining wildplaces, reminding each other of the value in these ecosystems and pledging to stand together to protect them. For information about the Wilderness Society campaigns and ways you can get involved, check out our website.

Wilderness Society Victoria International Day of Forests
Click to zoom! (and check out that massive tree)

the wilderness society international day of forests
Click to zoom! (and check out those misty mountains)

International volunteering

Austraining Volunteers Webinar2.png

I attended my first webinar last week to learn more about opportunities to volunteer overseas, after seeing an ad by AYAD (a youth volunteering organisation which helps deliver on Australia’s international aid program). The presentation gave an overview of the program, support offered and how to apply, and a returned volunteer spoke about her experience in Jakarta. At the end, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions via the chat portal, which were then relayed to the group.

This is something I’d love to do in the future, but probably couldn’t commit to at the moment. I’d be most interested in spending a couple of months in Papua New Guinea or one of the Polynesian islands, and the good news is that there seems to be plenty of jobs in my field (Marketing/Communications)!

For those interested, all volunteering assignments are listed on the AYAD website on the first of each month, where there is plenty of information and inspiration to get you thinking about volunteering overseas.Austraining Volunteers Webinar

Scientist for a day!

Melbourne freshwater turtle earthwatchLast week, Earthwatch came to my company as part of a volunteer expo, and, inspired by the representatives and the materials they proffered, today I signed up for my first expedition. In mid-March, I’ll be a citizen scientist for a day, collecting data on freshwater turtles with a small group of other volunteers and Earthwatch scientists. $95 well spent!

If you’re interested in signing up for one of these short (one day) volunteer sessions, check out their website. I’ll definitely be doing the microbat one when it’s offered again in November-December!


Turtles on the Move – Schedule for the day:

07:00 – 07:30 a.m. Overview of research project & safety briefing
07:30 – 08:30 a.m.
Travel to research site 1
08:30 – 10:00 a.m. Set up nets + quick break for morning tea 
10:00 – 12:00 p.m. Travel to research site 2 & set up nets
12:00 – 12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30 – 02:30 p.m. Travel to research site 1. Conduct dip-netting + habitat assessment (vegetation and water chemistry). Remove nets & process turtles
02:30 – 05:00 p.m. Travel to research site 2. Conduct dip-netting + habitat assessment (vegetation and water chemistry). Remove nets & process turtles
05:00 p.m. Depart field & return to university

Earthwatch Turtle expedition

Volunteering Update

Only three weeks into my New Year’s resolution the ball is rolling so fast I’m struggling to keep in front of it, kinda like this scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark (just imagine I’m Indiana Jones):

You get the picture!

Here’s a quick look at how things are tracking on the volunteer front:

 ♦ Checked a box to say that I’d be interested in volunteering with the Wilderness Society, and was contacted over the phone a few days later for an interview ♦ Went for the interview, where I was given a brief overview of the organisation & the types of volunteer work available in light of my skills and experience ♦ Emailed through my CV and some examples of past communication work ♦ Have been invited to attend an induction day to get a greater understanding of the current campaigns (awaiting date confirmation) ♦  Really hoping that I might get to work on designing some print materials for these guys!


♦  Registered to attend the next Wildlife Victoria Information Session, which goes for 2 hrs and outlines the different volunteer roles  ♦  After reading the brief descriptions on their website, I think I want to start by being a Wildlife Volunteer Transporter, for a set period each weekend ♦  One day I’d love to assist with the rehabilitation of wildlife, but as this tends to be a full-time job I think I’d best leave that until the retirement years!


♦  One volunteer day already completed at Edgar’s, & the next is in the works! ♦  I also discovered that our local farm (the Collingwood Children’s Farm) accepts volunteers too, so onto the to-do list it goes.

First Volunteer Outing of Twenty Fourteen!

Piglets Feeding
Now that my muscles have sufficiently recovered, I can tell you all about Sunday’s volunteer day at Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary without wincing and grimacing! (Just kidding – they really didn’t work us that hard…)

farmer ryanAfter rising early to prep some vego and some vegan lunches (this is a requirement of the farm), arriving impressively on-time to the meeting point, and carpooling our way an hour or so north of Melbourne, we arrived at Willowmavin. What greeted us there was a scene almost too perfect to exist outside of a movie: running, skipping, hobbling, waddling and trotting down the path towards us was a group of sweet and curious creatures, some of the free-ranging residents of Edgar’s Mission, hurrying to meet and inspect the newcomers. If I remember correctly, Ruby, the energetic red kelpie got there first. I can not for the life of me imagine a more welcoming sight.

It was a warm day, and thanks to recent heat waves and drought-like conditions, the grass at Edgar’s had been seared to a brittle, yellowy brown. My group of six was lucky to get an indoor task: the cleaning out of one of the barns. It wasn’t glamorous work (we picked up droppings and swept away rat sh*t) but with all the animals – including a very playful baby lamb called Nellie – popping their heads in to check on us, we were constantly reminded of why we were doing this.edgarsmissionshop

After a lunch break that involved sitting in a stall, scratching the bellies of piglets as they trotted past, causing them to stagger and drop to the ground and roll over like pet dogs, we went on a tour of the farm.  We fed weetbix to sheep and deer and pigs and cows and goats, with many of us getting to meet the individual animals we personally sponsor through the Edgar’s Mission Best Buddy program.

For me, it felt amazing to give back to an organisation I respect so much – and to feel validated in the choice I made to change the way I eat. I recommend volunteering at Edgar’s Mission to anyone interested in forging a more compassionate existence; their message of kindness is one worth spreading. We’re already planning our next trip! And if not Edgar’s – any organisation you feel passionately about. There are so many worthwhile causes out there that could benefit from a group of enthusiastic individuals eager to make a difference.

P.S. I spent quite a bit at the on-site store – you can see some of my purchases above. Pictured: two awesome wooden brooches and a photo portrait of Charlotte the sheep. For more items, check out their online store!

timothy the sheep
Photo of Ryan and two images above by Deirdre Mansell

Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Only a small handful of days stand between me and the happiest place on Earth, known locally as Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary. What is this slice of heaven, you ask? Exactly this: a glittering oasis in the desert hell-hole that constitutes life for most of the species represented above, thanks to the rise of the factory farm.

Link to Edgar’s Mission website

Every creature that has found its way to Edgar’s is a lucky anomaly, an exception to the rule, a dodger of fate. Allowed to live out their lives naturally, in peace, each animal has a backstory of suffering and survival – the unsinkable Molly Brown, sole survivor of a truck rollover on the freeway which killed 400 sheep (the truck was bound for the slaughterhouse); Mr Miyagi, rooster, a school hatching project reject; Hope – who, with a lot of sneaking, squeezing, hiding and running, managed to escape the pig farm and her fate. 

This Sunday, I’ll be attending one of their special volunteer days – where ordinary folk make the drive north of Melbourne to spend a day labouring on a farm. I hope I get to meet the goat I help sponsor, Boots (below) – who, as you can see, has grown from cute kid into one handsome fella!


bboots 2

Edgar’s Mission is a bastion for those who feel strongly about animal rights. Just knowing such a place existed was an enormous support when I made the switch to a vegetarian diet (and as I now move towards the infinitely-more-difficult veganism).

For daily inspiration, and to be motivated to live a kinder, more compassion life, ‘like’ them on Facebook – and subscribe to their blog posts: well-written and from the heart, they seem to always make my eyes water! I must be allergic to the font. ; )

P.S. There are lots of ways to support the mission – but my favourite is the online store

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