by Lexi Brennan-Craig
In January of 2023, I decided to apply for the conservation internship at Nature’s Valley Trust for the upcoming summer, “winter.” In June, after graduating from a long and amazing 5 years of college and university within the environmental field, I started my travels to the Valley – excited to explore and work in a new environment.
There were a lot of unknowns traveling across the world by myself and only so much Google can tell you about a small place in South Africa. I was excited and nervous to meet everyone and get to work. Before the plane landed, seeing the view of Plettenberg Bay and the coast turned into just excitement.
Working for the Trust was very rewarding and beneficial, along with fun. We explored many different topics within Conservation, and it was awesome to put my knowledge from school to use, while also learning new things. I grew a new enjoyment for birding relating activities and confirmed my love for working with the environment even more.
Within my schooling, I had a major focus on Indigenous Canadians relationship and hardships with the environment. My special project with the Trust was to create a lesson plan to teach to a group in the Covie community, a small community near the Valley. My specific lesson revolves around the importance of a healthy environment, waste management, invasive species and how all those topics and relevant and beneficial to individuals and the community as a whole.
It was interesting to put my knowledge regarding small Indigenous communities similar to Covie’s relationship with the environment. Although the similarities are upsetting, they are confirming. It’s confirmed that there is an obvious need for proper implementation of regulations regarding communities at a disadvantage and it has been rewarding to be able to actively work towards a smaller gap in those areas.
My two months getting to know the local area had been amazing and two short. I will never forget the feeling of going to the empty beach on a Monday to working on my project – no one in sight and not a single noise besides nature. Going for walks and seeing no cars or anyone – only wildlife. Swimming in the lagoon or going for something to eat at Blue Rocks. The day-to-day of living somewhere new was great.
My coworkers/roommates, who have now turned into amazing friends – who I already have plans to visit soon and miss lots. We went on so many adventures and created memories I am forever thankful for. I will miss our weekly market visits and farm store runs the most. It was amazing to meet and work alongside some great people, who share a drive for the same things I am passionate for.