Flinders University student and environmentalist Saskia Gerhardy is among the South Australian winners of the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards.
Ms Gerhardy, studying her second-year of a degree in conservation and biodiversity, was announced the winner of the Flinders Ports Environment Award for her outstanding achievements in promoting conservation.
“This award really means a lot to me, that what I’m doing is making a positive difference,” Ms Gerhardy said.
“We live in a time where environmental issues are being swept under the carpet, but now is when we need to start acting on problems. I want to help solve these problems by not just making a difference myself, but also by encouraging other young people to do the same.”
Ms Gerhardy, who growing up on her family’s Willunga property always cared for small native animals and birds, has dedicated herself to rescuing orphaned, injured or sick animals and helps with local programs to monitor endangered animals.
“I was always very passionate about animals and always liked looking after them from a really young age,” said Ms Gerhardy, 19, whose parents are also environmentalists.
“I’ve always loved being outdoors and I guess when you’re really young, you don’t realise there’s so many environmental problems going on.”
Ms Gerhardy said she planned to donate her $1,000 prize money towards a “cool environmental” excursion for the youth group she operates in Willunga, Youth and Community in Conservation Action (YACCA), which nominated her for the award.
“They are such amazing kids with so much knowledge and passion for the environment,” she said.
“I want to give them the best environmental education and experience possible, so there’s no better way to put the money than into securing their future so they can help protect the future for our planet.”