Austin Best knew he wanted to volunteer abroad, especially with an environmentally-minded group. Recently, he spent two weeks in Costa Rica with Sea Turtle Camp where volunteer work for turtle conservation positively affects sea turtle quality of life. He took academic opportunities, like the IB Programmer’s Extended Essay, to communicate about his work and its effects.
Q. What inspired your passion for animal conservation?
A. My passion for animal conservation actually goes back much further to my early childhood. If I had to guess the source I would say it was probably my grandmother. She and I always shared a love of animals, and she would constantly keep me aware of conservational issues.
Q. What was the outcome/purpose of your conservation work in Costa Rica?
A. The goal of the program in Costa Rica was to get young people involved in the conservation of sea turtles. Volunteer work for turtle conservation has proved affective because the endangerment of the sea turtle is very much a result of human activities on beaches. So the project included community outreach and education about the turtles, beach clean ups, nest surveys and guarding a local egg hatchery from poachers. The result of these volunteer projects has been positive; recently, the conservation status of the leather back sea turtle has moved up from endangered, to vulnerable. There is still a lot of work to do, but this is a great start.
Q. How has your academic experience at Rancho Solano affected your passion for environmentalism?
A. I utilize every opportunity—such as my extended essay—to communicate environmental issues to those around me. I challenge myself as much as I can academically in the hopes of building a foundation for a successful university experience which I can then use to advocate on a larger scale and spend my life working with the conservation of our environment.
Austin is a senior at Rancho Solano Preparatory School.
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