DHS student’s ‘Great’ opportunity

By Olivia Duffey

Elizabeth Leitch is one of 16 students in NSW chosen to take part in a study tour on the effects of global warming and human impact at the Great Barrier Reef.

The 2020 Lizard Island Coral Reef Study Tour is an immersive, educational experience in coral reef science, led by marine scientists for two weeks in April.

The 16 year-old Deniliquin High School student was overwhelmed to discover she was being offered the opportunity of a lifetime.

“My careers’ adviser Donna Van Leishout thought I would be interested and passed on information about the trip,” Elizabeth told the tfBannersc Pastoral Timestf$f.

“It took me a week and a half to gather all of the things needed for my application including a written paper on why I should be selected to go, a certificate from a swim trainer and approval from the school, the science teachers and my parents.

“When I received the news I had been selected, I was extremely emotional. I was very excited and in disbelief, I couldn’t believe that I had got in.

“There were more than a thousand entries, so to be one of the 16 chosen for the study tour is an honour.”

Elizabeth plans to pursue a career in Ornithology, the study of birds, with her interest specifically in sea birds.

The study tour is expected to help her develop her studies and career in a field she is passionate about.

“I have been interested in animals since I was little but it was in about Year 7 and 8 that I got really interested in birds,” she said.

“Then I watched a documentary of one of David Attenborough’s older pieces on birds. They dedicated half an hour to the Galapagos albatross and that is when I realised I wanted to study sea birds.

“All life starts in the reef and even though there is a big ocean, if the reef is gone the birds will starve and die. So I am looking forward to learning more about the effects of global warming and human impact on the reef.”

She will meet the group in Sydney on April 10 and will fly to Cairns before heading to Lizard Island on a smaller aircraft.

“It is the first time the program has been run,” Elizabeth said.

“Students from private schools in Sydney were going but none of them were very interested, so the Australian Museum and the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation created the program for students who were keen and is an opportunity for the scientists involved to make a better impact on students.’’

The full cost of the program is $4000 per person, however $3700 of this is being covered by the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation. 

“Deniliquin High School has offered to pay the remaining $300 so I could have this amazing opportunity, and I am extremely grateful for it,” Elizabeth said,

“I would like to give a special thanks to Donna Van Leishout, Kylie Hayes, Robyn Richards,  Kym Orman and other members of the school community for supporting me in this endeavour.

“I feel that this trip will help me advance my education and future career in ornithology, an opportunity I will always be grateful for.”