The first thing people ask when I tell them I want to study abroad in Tasmania is "Are you going to look for Tasmanian devils?" The answer, in fact, is yes...but the Tasmanian Devil I’m picturing is not the Looney Tunes rascal Tazz. Most people, if I were to show them a picture of a real Tasmanian devil, would not be able to identify it, something that I hope to change through my project.
My name is Elaina, and I am a double major in Zoology and Mass Communications, with a personal goal of promoting conservation through education in the media. I see studying abroad as an incredible opportunity to expand my skills and experience of bringing the wildlife I encounter in the field to life in my very own nature videos. This is where Tasmania comes in. It is an island off the Southern coast of Australia, and I plan to study abroad in the capital city of Hobart, at the University of Tasmania.
Steve Irwin, Jeff Corwin, and David Attenborough, my childhood heroes, impacted me by bringing an enthusiasm and passion to learning about animals and the natural world. As I progress in my college studies, I see that the scientific community is lacking the public education aspect brought by people like them, which means lots of great zoological research is going unnoticed.
I want to bring the same excitement to my audience that my heroes brought to me. Tasmania is an amazing environment, and it is my goal to create a fun, educational video series on the wildlife and research I encounter when in the country. Because it is an island, Tasmania is home to many endemic species; meaning species only found in that one place on Earth. I want to take advantage in being in such a unique zoological atmosphere, and use my media production skills to share my experiences.
Several species of note are the Tasmanian Devil, the thylacine, and the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed eagle. The beloved Tasmanian Devil is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, and I will have the chance to study them myself in the field. The Thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, is believed to be extinct, but no hard evidence exists to prove this with certainty, making it an intriguing mystery of the island. The Tasmanian Wedge-tailed eagle, a massive and beautiful bird known only to inhabit the island of Tasmania and smaller nearby islands, is listed as endangered with less than 1,000 left in the wild. These are only three species that will provide a surplus of information to feature in my videos.
I want to explore the mountainous Tasmanian landscape, and bring the beauty of nature to life with my video camera. I want to learn, and in turn educate. Studying for an entire semester in such an interesting natural environment will allow me to use my time to the fullest, to create videos with real impact. I want to grow in experience with environmental messaging, so that I can improve my own efforts of promoting conservation in the media, and I think Tasmania is the perfect place in which to do so.
Do you know what a Tasmanian Pademelon is? Well, it's quite possibly one of the cutest little marsupials on the planet, and I will get to see plenty of them when I am in Tasmania! In fact, I'm taking it as my duty to bring you videos, pictures, and more information on animals such as the Pademelon...animals that most people will never have heard of until I bring them to light in my videos. Tasmania is a great example of a conservation-minded community, and we can learn a lot from the way they treat their environment. I will certainly be learning a lot, but what's most important is that through my project, I will be sharing my new knowledge. There are so many amazing endemic species, as well as interesting research projects based on these species. As I mentioned earlier, public education is lacking within the scientific community, and I want to be a part of sharing this wonderful research and connecting my community at home to the zoology community in Tasmania.
What I Need & What You Get:
First of all, I need help getting to Tasmania. Airline tickets are expensive; upwards of $2,700. I have scholarships that pay my entire tuition for the University of Tasmania. I have my own video equipment, including a camera, lavalier microphone, tripod, and iMovie. For optimal editing capabilities, it would be nice to purchase Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, which can be $300 and above. I will also need meal and transportation money, which could be $500 and up. I currently am working two jobs on campus, and will continue to work at the Columbus Zoo during my break to raise as much funds as possible. I am setting a project goal of $2,500, with hopes of reaching it or even surpassing it!
Now for the fun part; rewards!! As a 'thank you' for your generosity, I want to make sure I include you in my project efforts. For any donation, you will be featured in the credits of my videos. Donations $50-$100 will get a letter and pictures during my trip, and the option of a Skype session while I am in the country! Donations $100-$200 will receive a shoutout in a video, Skype session, a personalized presentation upon my return, and a handmade scrapbook of photographs and fun information about the wildlife and culture I encounter. Any donation above $300 will receive all of the rewards listed below, while also getting a personalized video on the topic of your choice, which will be a part of my series.
Other Ways You Can Help:
Social networking is a great way to help out my cause! Please share with friends, family, and anyone else who may be interested in conservation and donating to my project. I have also created a Youtube video that can be seen through this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFGCkbEyaSA