Nineteen year old Saskia Gerhardy never expected to win Flinders Ports’ Environment Award at the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards in March, but her fellow volunteers were not surprised at all. Saskia, from Willunga received the award in recognition of her environmental work and leadership, which has inspired countless school students to play an active role in protecting and restoring the environment.
“I felt so honoured to be there, let alone winning the Flinders Ports Environment Award. Honestly, the feeling of my name being called still feels surreal and I’m still waiting for someone to turn around and tell me it was all a dream,” Ms Gerhardy said.
The youth leader, who is studying for a Bachelor of Science in Biodiversity and Conservation at Flinders University, helped to develop the YACCA group, a youth environmental action group which she now runs. The YACCA group encourages young people to become actively engaged in local community environmental projects. It also empowers students to play their part in tackling both local and global environmental challenges.
Since winning the award Saskia’s environmental work has gone from strength to strength. In addition to working with Willunga Trees for Life, the Willunga Environmental Centre and Regreen the Range, she is now closely involved with the Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Landcare Programs. In September, she received the Young Landcare Leader Award at the 2015 Premier’s NRM and SA Landcare Awards. The teenage winner’s YACCA group was also recognised at the event, securing a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Junior Landcare Team category. The group has increased from 12 members and is now at capacity with 10 children on a waiting list to join the second YACCA group which is launching in 2016.
Speaking about her plans to establish more YACCA groups throughout South Australia Ms Gerhardy explained, “I also have hopes to continue developing YACCA, so that more kids can obtain an environmental education”.
The 2016 Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards are now open for nominations from young people up to 29 years of age as of 31 December 2015. Applicants must have been permanent residents of South Australia for a minimum of two years.
Reflecting on her win and subsequent environmental successes, Saskia Gerhardy said,
“Winning the Flinders Ports Environment Award has encouraged me to go and do more positive environmental work. It has given me credibility and has helped me to instigate further projects within the community.”
Nominations for the 2016 Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards close on Friday 4 December. For more information about nominating for an award, visit www.awardsaustralia.com
About Flinders Ports
Flinders Ports is South Australia’s leading port operator with seven ports located at Port Adelaide, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Thevenard, Port Giles, Wallaroo and Klein Point. Flinders Ports offers a range of port and port related services including pilotage, mooring, survey and marine control. It is part of the Flinders Port Holdings Group, which is led by Chief Executive Officer, Vincent Tremaine. For more information about Flinders Ports, visit: www.flindersports.com.au