Benjamin Howes

My course has meant travelling internationally to learn about climate change resilience in some inspiring communities and environments.

I began my Bachelor of Science wanting to pursue health sciences by seeing the positive impact that health care had on my family & friends, and started completing pre-requisites for graduate entry. After my first year I took a Gap Year and undertook a placement as an Outdoor Education Instructor in Anglesea, Victoria. I worked with students and community groups - teaching them the basics in rock climbing, canoeing, cycling and surfing etc. I had a fantastic time and discovered my love for working outdoors, researching interactions between people and the environment and encouraging them (especially students) to engage and learn about the nature around them.

The internship also led me to get involved in learning about community development and making a difference in the levies of those around me: I realised that people did care about the environment, i.e. climate change, but often did not have the tools, knowledge or support to make meaningful changes in their lives. Discovering creative, innovative climate change adaptation & mitigation methods inspired me to start a Geography major when I returned to study.

My course has meant travelling internationally to learn about climate change resilience in some inspiring communities and environments; studying glaciers in New Zealand, learning about landscape management with rural farming communities in China and working with aid organisations in East Timor in climate change resilience, to name a few! It has allowed me to make many new friends across the world and network with inspiring and friendly academics. Plus, getting involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities! From volunteering in the Community Garden and Student Welfare, to teaching at Collingwood Children’s Farm & working for the Students At Work program.

My dream career would be to work with environmental education in the Asia Pacific Region; empowering local community leaders through the Asia Pacific region to respond creatively and innovatively to climate change through social enterprise. I have learnt that knowledge and talent are incredibly valuable, but interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate ideas clearly and critically is just as important!

Through enthusiasm in class, one of my breadth subjects "Glee Singing" led to us getting involved with a State Library of Victoria arts project with the Les Miserables Cast and performing in Her Majesty's Theatre for a non-for-profit Mental Health Awareness event. After that experience, I realised how much a choir could be a wonderful community builder and so I started a community choir in my local town with friends, local churches, Eltham Chamber of Commerce and Nillumbik Council. Today the choir has kept growing and we regularly visit local retirement villages, perform at a variety of local markets and childrens programs and engage in welcoming new Syrian Refugee families into the community. All from a breadth subject...as a Science Student! It's been an amazing ride and I'm still getting blown away by how much I'm learning.

Benjamin received the Melbourne Global Mobility Award and a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant, which have helped him travel to New Zealand and China respectively. He has also been working toward the Leaders in Community Award (LiCA).

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