Hey hey! So… you wanna know more about me eh?
Well… I’m a coasty born and bred and grew up in a little NSW coastal suburb near Wollongong called Corrimal with my mum, dad and bro. We also had some dogs.
Dad worked in telecommunications and was on the road a lot. He brought back a lot of rock cakes (do they still make those?) and stuff from his travels and was (and still is) a deadset legend. My mum (an awesome lady) ran a second hand shop for 20 years like a total boss. Seriously it was the coolest junk shop in town. “The Little Red Junk Shop”. My bro and I were always tearing out each others’ hair (literally), and biting, kicking and screaming, but now he is my best friend and no-one makes me laugh more. Go figure.
I had an awesome childhood. Spending loads of time outdoors, exploring stuff, building weird cubbies in the backyard, climbing trees, dreaming big, and creating things. I even rigged up my own flying fox across the backyard once with a rusted pulley system I found in the wood heap. Of course it broke mid-flight, I landed on my tail bone, man it hurt. So much. But I sucked it up and hid it from mum and dad. No biggy. Oh and another time I rode my bike so fast down the hill I got the death wobbles, came off and smashed my chin on the concrete. A big scab came up and I got told I looked like I had a beard for a week at school. They called me beardy.
So I was constantly outside doing something. Covered in grazes and scratches, dirt under my nails, and the wind in my hair. Nothing’s changed really except I’m a bit taller and leave the flying foxes to the pros.
My studies and career have taken me down a pretty amazing path, which wasn’t always so clear, but a little bit of meandering between degrees and some indecisiveness and itchy feet for a change of scenery took me to the Gold Coast for a few years, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Ecotourism.
I actually started out in primary teaching which I thought was going to lead me to a satisfying and stable career. My first prac bored the hell out of me and I was more interested in playing handball with the year 6 students at recess than I was about educating them. I remember a student started swearing in class because he didn’t like the maths lesson the teacher had prepared and I was sitting at the back laughing instead of feeling concerned that this was going on. Then I turned to a state of panic and questioned what I was actually doing there and quickly changed degrees.
I had at the same time started taking science electives and totally loved being challenged by the world of science, so I ended up jumping over to an Environmental Science degree.
But then I got bored of where I was living. I don’t know why, but Wollongong just wasn’t doing it for me anymore, so I moved on up to the sunny Gold Coast where I transferred to that Bachelor of Science in Ecotourism, and started a new adventure.
But after spending four years away from home and taking advantage of the beautiful warm weather QLD has to offer, I began to miss our coast line. Seriously, our escarpment is world class. And I missed my mum. And her free food. And the rest of my family.
I had no idea what I was going to do with myself, but I remembered someone at school saying “Megan, I think you’d look good in a National Parks uniform” and I thought “Yeah, I would”. So when I moved home I started working for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and this is where I found my feet.
It wasn’t through the parks work though. Although I loved being part of the National Parks crew and worked with the best team! Working weekends left me with some spare time up my sleeve and I was starting to forget what I had learnt at University. So I started volunteering with a local conservation organisation, Conservation Volunteers Australia.
Volunteering on the ground opened up a massive door into a world of practical knowledge, and a career which now sees me work with people to protect and restore the environment.
I’ve been working in conservation and natural resource management for just under a decade now, with a focus on community and grass roots action through a national movement called Landcare.
This is real get your hands dirty on-ground action. And I love it. So I continue to volunteer too. Why? Because I love this country and feel a deep sense of responsibility to look after it.
I have seen the absolute transformation the Landcare movement has brought to communities, people, the environment and I have experienced it first-hand.
I have met the most incredible people, seen some of the most spectacular scenery and never felt better in my life than what I feel like when I’m out with the people in the places we go.
I founded and coordinate a group called Illawarra Intrepid Landcare, a Landcare group for young people, and we have a blast looking after the environment. I have had so many hilarious, inspiring and life-changing experiences on this journey.
The group has been so successful as a model for getting young legends involved in Landcare projects, it has inspired networks around Australia to set up something similar! I’m pretty chuffed about that actually. And now I’m working on rolling out Intrepid Landcare at a national level with another inspiring soul from the Gold Coast.
In 2011 I was recognised at a state level as Young Landcare Leader of the year for NSW, and in 2012 I was awarded National Young Landcare Leader of the year. For Australia. Oooh lala! That was pretty amazing and I feel very blessed for the recognition, because, well, it’s just me and I’m just me doin’ my thang.
I’m really just a sucker for a good rope swing and a swimming hole and killer views for days and Landcare gets you to some pretty sweet places.
I love hiking, surfing, photography, music, making stuff, and all of these things I do at a very mediocre level. And I’m ok with that. I love meeting new people, and simply hearing their story and where their life has taken them. I also hate cooking, and love free stuff.
I have travelled the world (but not nearly enough of it) and love learning about other cultures, exploring new environments and letting my mind flow over the possibilities of where life will take me next. I love laughing, and I mean laughing hard, and I always surround myself with people who make me smile.
Travelling abroad and living away for a period of time in my early 20s helped to develop a deep appreciation of just how amazing our country is, and volunteering has cemented this for me even more. Sometimes I am so awe-struck by the beauty of our landscape it gives me goose bumps. Really, it does.
Someone asked me what my vision for the world actually was lately. My first reaction was “who walks around with a vision for the world in their pocket?!”. But when I sat down and really thought about it openly and honestly, I guess mine is to make people happy, to laugh and have a good time, and to leave this world in better condition than what it was while I was here living on it. That is the legacy I want to leave.
Life is one massive adventure and this is my collection of conservation experiences from the field, adventures out in nature, adventures in life, my travels, and the way I view the world.
We’re only here for a short while. Enjoy the journey, make an impact, and remember to laugh at yourself. It doesn’t hurt. I promise 😉