My interest in volunteering and engagement began as an undergraduate student in Michigan, USA. I was actively involved in the Soil and Water Conservation Society; President of the Grand Valley State University Chapter during my final year. As a chapter we lead river restoration and invasive species removal projects in West Michigan. Along with these experiences, my childhood fascination with koalas and life-long interests in Australia, inspired me to travel there and participate in forest restoration projects; that further inspired my seven years as a student and resident in northern Australia.
In 2014, I was an invited speaker at Erskine Stewart’s Melville School in Edinburgh. I spent a week engaging with students and staff about fishes, rivers and migration. Again in 2016, I spoke with students at Erskine Stewart’s Melville School in Scotland, and Beaumont Middle School in Kentucky, about fishes, rivers, and human impacts on these environments and species.
In 2020, Daphne Giannoulatou, Asha Sahni, and I established Underwater Haiku, a series of creative writing activities to engage with underwater environments. To date, activities have been held on-line because of the global COVID19 pandemic. We are very grateful to the hundreds of people who have contributed to both the Underwater Haiku Exquisite Corpse and Collaborative Competition! Daphne’s first digital fine artwork that builds from lines contributed for the Exquisite Corpse is published, and an Underwater Haiku booklet will be published later in 2020. Our hope is to begin in-person events and activities in Swansea and Bristol in 2021 to engage with communities about freshwater ecosystems and bring underwater environments to the surface.
In April 2020, FIRE Lab team also co-produced Jac’s River Adventure with a team of collaborators. Jac’s River Adventure is a short poetic story about a dog named Jac and her adventure along River Tawe in Wales. The Jac’s River Adventure booklet includes activities to get us out and having fun along our rivers and creating wondrous creatures! Be sure to visit firelabkids.uk to download activities, and share your creations with FIRE Lab team!
The FIRE Lab team at Swansea University are also actively engaged with communities in and around Swansea, and hope to return to more in-person engagement in 2021 and 2022.