Written by Rhys Abbott
As many of you know too well, conservation can feel like an uphill battle; often lonely, and without community support, it can be overwhelmingly deflating. But would you ever give up? Heck no. It is without a doubt a massive challenge to overcome the environmental pressures that humanity places on nature every day, but it is a challenge that we can, and we will overcome.
HELLO! I am Rhys, and I am relatively new to the conservation scene, would you believe I was a ‘footy lad’? I grew up in sleepy Adelaide, Australia. I was blessed with camping adventures growing up but there was never a sense that I would grow up to be a long haired, nature loving, justice fighting conservationist. I chased the dream of football and fighting fires but with no real passion, I then had a horrid shoulder reconstruction, gave university a go, received a primary education degree but still I struggled with purpose.
There was one theme that did follow me throughout this journey, I loved to explore, learn, grow and experience. All of these led me to the realisation that planet earth and all its wonderful inhabitants were in danger, and because of us!? Although I embody a teaching role at university, I never stood in a classroom as the leading teacher and I have now started my journey once more.
I am now a student of science, biodiversity and conservation, but I have a different long-term plan that I think all of us should continue growing and perfecting. Conversation! The ability to story tell is beyond important in the realm of conservation. If we cannot gain community support and engagement, if we cannot attract and reconnect the majority of humanity back with nature, then I fail to see a positive ending.
Although I volunteer every Friday restoring natural habitats with Conservation Volunteers Australia, I am sure I am meant to continue my creative passion path and try and make a positive change through media. I recently returned from a study tour on a tiny island in the Philippines where I filmed my very first documentary. The narrative follows the story of entrapping the audience with the beauty of an almost untouched island, and then exploring the impacts of climate change on the island but with a strong focus on climate justice, we then finish with positive outcomes because they’re highly important I believe.
I am also president of and help run a very fresh environment club at my uni, Flinders University, where we’ve just signed on 250 plus new members and we’re hoping we can get back on campus soon to achieve more green goals. Another fun thing I do is run an environmental education page on Instagram with an active audience of over 40,000! I talk to so many people and I always ask them what inspires you, or what changed you to become more eco-conscious, and they will quite often tell me that it was either a piece of media, or a conversation.
So thank you to every single person who identifies as a conservationist, you are irreplaceable and I hope you never stop doing you!
For more of Rhys, follow @heapsofrhys and @savetheeartheggrecord on Instagram and to watch his documentary click HERE!