Mar 16, 2013

Franklin Monroe grad to aid endangered species

Jasmine Grillmeier
PITSBURG--Jasmine Grillmeier will participate in a unique travel program in Australia this summer as a volunteer restoring Australia’s deteriorating natural habitat and declining animal population, following years of poor land practice and environmental devastation. Under the leadership of an organization called International Student Volunteers (ISV) (www.isvolunteers.org), Grillmeier will join 20 to 50 other individuals from around the globe in a four-week program, which will be divided into two equal parts — one part volunteer project, the other part adventure travel.

During the first two weeks in Australia, volunteers will spend their time either working outdoors on a habitat restoration project or conducting scientific research in a wildlife sanctuary. To generate the greatest impact, ISV volunteers will work alongside local Australian organizations that specialize in problem-specific conservation projects. Through these partnerships, volunteers are offered a diverse range of projects, such as land erosion management, rainforest and bushland regeneration, and the protection and research of endangered and declining Australian wildlife, including fairy penguins, koalas, and hooded plovers (a bird species).

Following the volunteer portion of the trip, participants will embark on an educational adventure tour, traveling extensively along the east coast while immersed in the Aussie culture. Grillmeier will explore some of Australia’s most exciting locations, experiencing activities such as rappelling in the Blue Mountains, cruising in Sydney Harbor, learning to surf in Byron Bay, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.

Through the ISV program, Grillmeier will gain a deeper appreciation and greater sense of stewardship for the natural wonders of Australia. One sentiment that seems to hold true for many ISV participants upon returning home is their sense of fulfillment, knowing that they’ve contributed something of value to and made a difference in the environment.

“The moment I learned of ISV’s major role in the discovery and protection of koala bears in the southernmost part of New South Wales, I realized Australia was where I needed to be and ISV was the organization to take me there,” says Grillmeier. “As a Freshman at Ohio University, volunteering my time in Australia to work this summer was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.”

Over the last 200 years, Australia has lost many of its iconic species and has held one of the worst mammal extinction rates in the world. The volunteers’ efforts help to protect and restore the unique and fragile Australian landscapes that provide a safe habitat for Australia's threatened flora and fauna.

While international travel can be costly, ISV guides participants on how to fundraise for their trip, providing them with fundraising materials and the help of a student fundraising advisor. Some students work or reach out to family and friends to pay for their trip. “I had a job at Steak ‘n Shake this summer and through tips and savings I now have almost half of the program cost covered,” says Grillmeier. “I’m now looking for sponsorship to pay for the rest of my costs.”

Those interested in making a donation to support Grillmeier’s volunteer efforts can contact her at jasminegrillmeier@gmail.com or 937-564-8470.


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