This time fifteen years ago I was in the middle of my first stint in Australia. Like many other Brits, I’d come here on a working holiday visa at the end of a trip that had taken me through India, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia, and I was in urgent need of some cash to keep my travels going. A friend invited me to come and join him at a company he’d found doing “chugging” (charity mugging – on-street and door-to-door fundraising), pointing to the young and fun team he was working with rather than the good work he was doing.
I’m not one that’s particularly fazed by chatting to random strangers, so it seemed like a fine idea. I went along to a training session and soon found myself pounding the streets of Sydney raising money for The Wilderness Society (TWS). In the first instance, the charity I was working for seemed slightly irrelevant, but as time went on the spiel I’d deliver to people (focused on TWS’s old growth forests protection campaign), started to hit home harder and harder. Throughout Asia, but particularly in Indonesia, I’d seen the devastating effects of large-scale logging. I took buses traveling through vast tracts of barren land and palm plantations that would once have been primary rainforest. The idea of working on a campaign to address a similar issue in Australia quickly ceased to be just a way of making money, but instead became a passion.
Later that year I returned home to the UK with my mind made up about what I wanted to do with my career. Having left university with an economics degree, I’d seen many of my course mates make a beeline for the large consultancies and accountancy firms. But that was never me. I’d grown up in the country and had always been a bit of a nature geek, fascinated by birds and my box set of National Geographic wildlife documentaries. It suddenly seemed like an obvious choice to find a job working in environmental protection, and I set about applying for internships at every NGO I could find. I eventually found my first post at Earthwatch, and took my first steps on a professional journey that I continue to this day.
Today I’m lucky to work for an amazing company doing fantastic work in the sustainability sphere, but there’s little doubt that the Wilderness Society played an enormous part in getting me here. They continue to do fantastic work protecting Australia’s natural environment and campaigning for action on climate change. They’ll forever have a special place in my heart, and that’s why I’ve chosen them as the recipient of this month’s ‘Make More Good’ donation from Edge.