Meet our international interns

Our interns spend a minimum of 6 weeks at NVT. They participate in all aspects of the Trust from Conservation and Research to Environmental Education and Community Engagement but these interns are also responsible for their own specific project.

James McCulloch

James McCulloch

July 2023 - September 2023

James is entering the third year of his undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford studying Biology. His particular interest is any aspect of invertebrate biology, ranging from their ecology to their evolutionary biology. He has previously been (and still is) heavily interested in the biogeography and taxonomy of British invertebrates, especially springtails, on which he has written several papers. He has also been involved with the Darwin Tree of Life project, which aims to sequence the genomes of all British eukaryotes (non-bacterial life), by collecting, identifying and processing invertebrate specimens. He recently led a project aiming to elucidate the climatic factors which may have facilitated the evolution of certain aspects of social insect life histories.

In Nature’s Valley, he is using different field sampling techniques to garner a better understanding of the area’s insect diversity and comparing assemblages between different sites and habitats to evaluate conservation efforts.

William Mann

William Mann

June 2023 - September 2023

Will is joining NVT’s baboon research team. He will be looking at baboon group behaviour and focal studies in the area of Nature’s Valley. Will joins us from the United Kingdom, where he will be advancing his career in the wildlife conservation sector.

Will studied ecology and wildlife conservation at Bournemouth University writing his thesis on orangutan behaviour in a zoo setting. Will’s love for wildlife and travel has taken him to volunteer in Borneo, Costa Rica and now South Africa as well as UK-based projects. Having experience in practical conservation, research and community outreach, Will is always keen to learn new skills and make an impact wherever he goes.

Will hopes to progress the baboon research study here at Nature’s Valley Trust using his experience in primate behaviour. Exploring and discovering a new and beautiful part of the world and all the local wildlife, flora and fauna is something he cares deeply about.

Lexi Brennan-Craig

Lexi Brennan-Craig

July 2023 - August 2023

Lexi is a recent graduate from the environmental management program with specialization in conversation planning and management at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, As well as a college graduate from the environmental technicians with a certification in Indigenous Relations from Confederation College. Her schooling has focused on many different environments and she is excited to continue learning and working somewhere new!

Her undergraduate thesis focused on the disconnect between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional relationship with water due to water insecurity. Clean water access is an issue all around the world and it will be interesting to find the connection between different communities facing similar issues.

She loves learning about new species and environments. She lives on one of the Great Lakes – Lake Superior and is looking forward to learning and exploring a different body of water. She is interested to see her new surroundings and everything Nature’s Valley has to offer while helping out and making a positive impact!

Elizabeth Esser

Elizabeth Esser

June 2023 - September 2023

Elizabeth (Lizzie) is joining NVT’s behavioural change programme to impact our conservation efforts in the surrounding communities of Nature’s Valley. Lizzie joins us from the UK, where she will be entering her final undergraduate year of Behavioural Science at Durham University.

As a student passionate about human behaviours and motives in different environmental contexts, Lizzie is excited to learn and support the conservation efforts taking place in Nature’s Valley. She has experience working with animals in refuges and raising awareness for charities in previous university events. Her most recent travels involved interrailing around Europe, including five countries in three weeks.

With her love for wildlife, she is interested in learning about the habitats, vegetation and species that make up the coastal, fynbos and forest environment here. Lizzie also hopes to connect her psychology background with our diverse environment. She is eager to educate our local communities and make a positive impact.

Tegan Allison

Tegan Allison

June 2023 - September 2023

Tegan joined NVT after a three-month Wildlife Conservation Internship in a Big Five Private Reserve in Limpopo. She has always had a passion for wildlife and community engagement and is excited to have hands-on experience at NVT.

I hope to get involved in all aspects of fieldwork and am keen to learn new skills. I am also looking forward to explore the local hikes and rock-climbing trails.

John Cooke

John Cooke

June 2023 - September 2023

John is a marine biology graduate who joined the NVT team in June 2023. He completed his honours degree at Swansea University in 2020 and was previously at GVI Karongwe completing an internship there. There he completed certificates in tracking, data collection, camera trap management and other forms of fieldwork techniques, as well as practical conservation and community outreach work. He has always had a passion for wildlife and with his interest in both terrestrial and marine flora and fauna, helps with any projects needed by the trust.

Guilia Baldini

Guilia Baldini

June 2023 - September 2023

Giulia joins NVT all the way from Italy where she graduated in Biology. She is currently studying Applied Ethology and Animal Biology in Sweden at Linköping University. Guilia will be assisting us with mammal behaviour research, in the forest and this will also be the topic of her Master’s thesis.

She always had a passion for animals, especially mammals, and is passionate about conservation and everything related to nature and outdoor activities.

Arabella Segar

Arabella Segar

April 2023 - June 2023

Arabella (Bella), joined us for her placement through GVI, recently having completed an internship in Limpopo, working with the Big 5, alongside Lauren and Ambryme.

Bella joins us all the way from London in the UK. She studied Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Management at university, where she gained a first-hand experience in the field of conservation. She is passionate about sustainability, marine conservation, and generally being outdoors immersed by nature and its wildlife.

Bella is very excited to get further hands-on conservation experience here in Nature’s Valley, learning more about the various research projects on the go, focusing on coastal research, particularly around marine debris, wildlife, and habitats. She is also really excited to explore this beautiful area, and experience everything Nature’s Valley has to offer!

Lauren Freed

Lauren Freed

April 2023 - June 2023

Lauren is a graduate of Clemson University, where she studied Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. Lauren joins NVT all the way from the northeastern part of the United States just outside Boston. Having recently completed a three-month internship in Limpopo through GVI, where she worked on animal tracking in a Big Five Private Reserve. She has always had a love of all things nature-related, whether it was during summers spent on the Atlantic coast where she grew up, or more recently hiking the 600-mile-long Camino de Santiago (a centuries-old pilgrimage through Northern Spain).

Lauren is interested in learning more about the local birds, turtle hatchlings and other marine and coastal species that can be found along our stretch of coastline. As well as expanding on the steps that each of us can take to preserve the wonders of nature for generations to come.

Ambryme Cocogne

Ambryme Cocogne

April 2023 - June 2023

Ambryme joins us all the way from France. She completed a three-month Wildlife Conservation Internship in a Big Five Private Reserve in Limpopo before joining NVT.

Ambryme studied Communication and International Relations and is always yearning to learn more about wildlife and get hands-on experience in that field.

Her focus while with NVT will be assisting on a range of research projects, with an interest in the coastal and marine programme. She will also be assisting with communications and social media management during her time with NVT.

Pamela Gauto

Pamela Gauto

April 2023

Pamela joins us from Paraguay, South America. She is a wildlife veterinarian, involved in the health management of hummingbirds, veterinary medical research and educating the community about pollinator roles in the environment.

She is interested in building connections around the world between research, wildlife and the community to make inter-discipline pollinator conservation.

Currently, her research focus is understanding more about fynbos habitat and in particular sunbird and sugarbird convergent evolution with hummingbirds. This is the perfect opportunity for her to learn more about this topic, and at the same time make inter-discipline connections.

Jez Harrington-Hayes

Jez Harrington-Hayes

February to April 2023

Born and raised in Birmingham, UK, Jez has always been fascinated by nature. Despite completing an unrelated degree (BA German Studies), and working in an unrelated field (Anti-Money Laundering) in Frankfurt, Germany, he continues to spend most of his free time in the great outdoors: birding, bouldering, biking or hiking.

Jez joins NVT for three months and will assist the Team with the bird monitoring element of its Forest Programme – being an avid birder and having experience of volunteering on similar monitoring projects with Naturschutzbund Deutschland.

During his stay in Nature’s Valley, Jez hopes to get a better understanding of what working in the conservation sector entails, gain hands-on experience, contribute to scientific research, make lots of happy memories, and spot many beautiful lifers!

Chizaram Eje

Chizaram Eje

May 2022 – August 2022

Chizaram recently graduated with a Global Health BSc. programme with a specialization in Environmental Studies from York University. She is interested in how socioeconomic and environmental determinants influence population health. The internship with NVT was an excellent opportunity to participate in ecological and conversation efforts that protect ecosystems and wildlife in South Africa as well as promote the health and well-being of the surrounding communities.

I was also able to learn a fair bit about fynbos – a distinctive vegetation found in this part of South Africa – and how it’s been used culturally and medicinally. This gave me a chance to learn not just about the environment, but also about the culture of the people in this area.

Jax Bath

Jax Bath

July 2020 – December 2020

Hailing from Johannesburg, Jax has always wanted to work with wildlife. Originally, her dream was always to work with terrestrial wildlife until she found herself on the ocean, watching whales. Now, the ocean is her favourite place in the world. After 4 years in tourism, Jax is now pursuing a conservation career and plans to begin her Nature Conservation diploma at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

During her time with NVT, Jax hopes to learn more about data input and analysis. She also hopes to get involved in all aspects of field work and is excited to learn a variety of new skills whilst on the programme.

Sophie Angoh

Sophie Angoh

May 2020 - August 2020 (remote)

Sophie holds a BA. Hons in Psychology and is currently doing her master’s in Environmental Studies at York University. She is interested in waste management particularly how to properly manage the end of life of products and is excited to help NVT with their marine debris initiatives.

Sophie understands that the ocean plays a huge role in the quality of life on land and is passionate about helping and preserving the marine ecosystem. She hopes to develop her knowledge on the topics of sustainability, environment, waste management and education and to apply her skills with NVT in meaningful ways.

Outside of school and work, Sophie can be found pursuing adventure through rock climbing, cycling, and camping.

Millen Negash

Millen Negash

May 2020 - August 2020 (remote)

Milen joins the NVT Team from Toronto, Canada. She has just finished her second year of study at York University as an International Development major, alongside a certificate in Black Canadian Studies. 

Despite being born and raised in the busy and fast-paced city of Toronto, she loves exploring its many pockets of nature and greenery. Her interests mainly lie within education and working with youth, as well as learning about community development, social justice, and other cultures. Although she does not come from a science background, she is eager to learn more about environmental conservation and sustainability efforts.

Due to the global pandemic, she is currently completing the internship remotely/virtually, but hopes that she can eventually visit NVT in the future and gain the hands-on experience.

Meaghan O'Neil

March 2020 - April 2020

Meaghan is from the east coast of the United States. As a child she had a lot of interest in sciences, literature, and art. She studied physics for awhile but then found her best fit in animation, which combines physics, writing, and art, a perfect balance for her sensibilities. She’s experimented with different animation techniques, but generally her subject material involves animals.You could say the film Fern Gully influenced her greatly, with its strong message of environmental conservation and colorful depictions of animals and nature. She’s been a part of beach, stream, and roadside cleanups since she was in elementary school and wants to do what she can to help the earth and its inhabitants. A desire to travel, learn, and use her art to support conservation efforts led her to NVT.

Aurore Counilh

Aurore Counilh

January 2020 - July 2020

Aurore is a marine ecology student from Reunion Island (France). She’s interning at NVT as part of her masters and hoping to get quality field experience. She’s mainly working on mapping tracking data of boats, dolphins and whales as part of the boat-based whale-watching (BBWW) tourism industry assessment project. But she is looking forward to learn more about all ongoing projects at NVT!

Aurore is particularly interested in relationships between people and nature. She wishes to find ways to help sustain local communities while preserving the environment (especially threatened species), which includes managing ecotourism, fisheries, and many other activities. Which is why working at NVT is a wonderful opportunity for her!

Benedict Wilson

Benedict Wilson

January 2020 - March 2020

Benedict comes to us following a three-month internship in Limpopo, where he worked on a Big Five game reserve. He is also a qualified zoologist with a BSc. Hons. degree from the University of Manchester, UK. Benedict is experienced working with and studying animals, having volunteered with the Manchester Museum herpetological collection, undertaken ecology and behaviour field courses both in South Africa and Costa Rica, in addition to having worked in wildlife parks, farming sectors and animals orphanages.

During his time here Benedict is keen to get stuck in with all projects and test the water as to life working in the field in the conservation industry. Alongside helping out with projects for the Trust, he hopes to build up his portfolio in wildlife photography and filmmaking. His time here with NVT will serve as invaluable experience and a great opportunity for him to decide upon the next step in his career.

Anna Kilmova

Anna Kilmova

January 2020 - March 2020

Anna holds a Bachelor with Honours Degree from York University in Toronto, Canada in English & Professional Writing and is hoping to bridge the gap between environmental scientists & researchers and the general public through effective communication and creative non-fiction writing.

After spending 10+ years in administrative roles that were as far as can be from conservation work she has decided to make a complete career change towards preserving our nature, environment and future. Through volunteering on wildlife reserves and sanctuaries in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, she has learned of the biggest threats that conservation faces and is now very much looking forward to the internship at NVT where she will continue to add to her skills and knowledge in the hopes of making a difference.

Clarisse Porcheron

Clarisse Porcheron

January 2020 - March 2020

Clarisse comes from France and has just graduated from the University of Liège (Belgium), where she achieved an Organism Biology and Ecology Master’s degree. Conservation and behavioural ecology are her main fields of interest. She loves observing the different interactions around us and tries to understand them. It was the primates who opened her interest in conservation and today, she wishes to be able to make a difference, whatever the species concerned.

Before looking for a job in the conservation sector, she wanted to carry out a volunteer mission as well as expand her experience in the field. While at NVT, she hopes to meet new people, learn about other cultures and gain hands-on experience in conservation by getting involved in as many projects as possible and having the fullest experience. Being involved for 3 months will allow her to gain valuable experience that she will use in her future job.

Ide Uitentuis

Ide Uitentuis

November 2019 - January 2020

Ide Uitentuis is currently studying environmental engineering at ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Science; Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften) in Zurich, Switzerland. As a part of his study, which requires him to do an internship aboard, he is joining the NVT team for three months. He is eager to learn more about the conservation work that NVT is doing in and around Nature’s Valley and Plettenberg Bay. Doing investigations of inter- and intraspecific interactions and of the behavior of animals as well as observing wildlife in their natural habitats and the interplay of flora and fauna is Ide’s passion. His goal for the internship is to support the team in all their areas of activity and to put a special focus on the ongoing shorebird project.

Samuel Karlsson

Samuel Karlsson

September 2019 - October 2019

Samuel is a biology student from Gothenburg University in Sweden. His focus lies on how to integrate biology and society, with greener cities, conservation programs and reformative and sustainable solutions for companies. Being raised by the water of the Baltic Sea, Samuel has seen the devastating effects societies can have on ecological communities and is eager to make a change!

Amanda Seregni

Amanda Seregni

September 2019 - October 2019 (volunteer)

Amanda is a recent Conservation Biology graduate from Exeter University in the United Kingdom. Ecology is her main field of interest and since carrying out a research project involving bees, her passion for insects and plants grew. Educating communities on how to sustainably use local resources as well as the importance each individual species has on the ecosystem is something she hopes to achieve in her future.

With plans to carry out a Master’s by Research after she finishes her travels around the world, Amanda hopes taking part in the Nature’s Valley Trust volunteering programme will help her find out exactly what she’s passionate about and wants to research, whether it is plastics, insects, marine animals or birds, the programme will allow her to gain experience in all of those fields.

Daniël Jongeling

Daniël Jongeling

August 2019 - October 2019

Daniël is a 19-year-old student from the Netherlands that is very interested in ecology, and more specifically the conservation sector. He has just started his second year of Coastal and Marine Management for which he’s doing his internship with Nature’s Valley Trust. Daniël gained experience in fieldwork by assisting in NVT’s sustainable marine tourism project, and he got a clearer idea of what he wants to do further in his career.

Jappe Rempe

Jappe Rempe

August 2019 - October 2019

Jappe started out his second year of Coastal and Marine Management gaining field experience with us. His passion lies in conservation and ecological research which fits perfectly with the NVT marine team. Having come all the way from The Netherlands he has been keen on getting as much experience as possible.

The main project he worked on was research on sustainable whale and dolphin tourism, however, whenever he could he got involved with all the other ongoing projects within both the marine and the main teams.

Being with us for 2 months he has not only gained an amazing experience but also an idea of what he wants to do later on in life.

Josefine Bethke

Josefine Bethke

August 2019 - October 2019

Josefine Bethke is a bachelor’s student in Environmental Science at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany entering her 3rd year. Since her volunteer year in the Wadden Sea, birds and their conservation have been her main interest.

She is especially looking forward to helping with the shorebird research and joining the NVT’s bird ringing project. Josefine is also keen on learning about the different habitats and species the Valley provides and assisting the NVT in protecting it.

Lisa Stalknecht

Lisa Stalknecht

June 2019 - August 2019

Lisa Stalknecht is 22 years old and a student from the Netherlands where she study Applied Science of Biology at the Aeres University. She has always had a passion for nature and especially plants. In the Netherlands, she has a side job at an consultancy/research agency where she currently does bat research and later would like to become an ecologist there.

During her time at the NVT, she will be participating in all projects to get the ‘full NVT experience’. She is most keen on the flower walks and might do some work on the local mushrooms while she is with NVT.

But to be honest I like everything if it means I can work outside.

Her time at the NVT will be her first adventure in another continent and she is looking forward to joining the NVT for the next two months.

Faye Hudson

Faye Hudson

May 2019 - August 2019

Faye Hudson is a Geography and Natural Hazards student from Coventry University in the UK. She is currently on a placement year volunteering with various conservation projects around the world. Having completed three months in New Zealand as a conservation volunteer, and three months in Ecuador volunteering on a private nature reserve, Faye has found herself with NVT for her final three months working alongside the team in Nature’s Valley.

She is looking forward to working with the team, meeting new people and gaining hands-on experience of conservation and education by getting involved in as many projects as she can whilst with the NVT before heading back to the UK to finish her degree.

Elizabeth Choi

Elizabeth Choi

May 2019 - July 2019

Elizabeth Choi joins us from York University – Glendon Campus, situated in Toronto, Canada. She is currently finishing up her Honours degree with a double major in International Studies and Environmental & Health Studies.

With past experience in South Africa through a term-long exchange program done at the University of Cape Town, Elizabeth has built her continuing passion for environmental conservation through a South African perspective. Her focus on marine debris alongside awareness and education will be further explored during her stay with NVT. Her ongoing passion for researching better solutions for a cleaner world will be closely incorporated into her fieldwork. She is delighted with her three-month stay and hopes to fulfil her tasks and project by understanding through a localized perspective the promotion, education and advocacy towards a sustainable lifestyle. Elizabeth is eagerly excited for what her future holds with NVT!

Craig Bradbury

Craig Bradbury

April 2019 (volunteer)

Craig has always enjoyed the outdoors; he grew up on a farm in England with a love for nature. He is keen to learn more about nature, plants and animals, how to conserve and look after the environment. A google search lead him to NVT, to a place he felt would meet all his needs in terms of conservation and awareness programmes. Craig had a fantastic two weeks, which he soon realised was way too little time spent in this amazing part of South Africa.

Saskia Schmole

Saskia Schmole

March 2019 - August 2019

Saskia Schmöle studies coastal and marine management at the Van Hall Larenstein University in the Netherlands. With a passion for the ocean and marine life, Saskia even moved from Germany to the Netherlands to study what she loves.

Because of her passion, Saskia is placed with the marine team of Natur’s Valley Trust but is eager to take every opportunity to get involved in other projects as well. This is the second mandatory internship she has to complete for her studies.

Saskia loves being outdoors and in nature and enjoys her many hours spent watching dolphins and whales.

Elelwani Makhuvha

Elelwani Makhuvha

December 2018 - June 2019

Elelwani finished her undergraduate degree in Animal, Plants and Environmental science (APES) and Geology at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2017. She believes taking courses with a focus in conservation, landscape and fresh water ecology and sustainability allowed her to strengthen her passion for the environment. Elelwani enjoys the great outdoors, being around nature while adding to her knowledge of the environment. She recently (2018) finished her BSc Honours degree in Ecology where she focused on research, GIS, sustainability and climate change.

Elelwani hopes to bridge the gap between studying and work-experience in these six months she will be with the trust. She is looking forward to taking up a research project of her own and getting involve in the various work the trust does, which includes but not limited to Conservation education, Shorebirds and Marine debris project.

Caitlin Kensett-Smith

Caitlin Kensett-Smith

December 2018 - March 2019

Caitlin joins us from Sydney Australia. At the end of 2016, she completed her BSc. in Environment majoring in Environmental Management and Biology. Caitlin loves learning about the environment surrounding her, and especially learning about how ecosystems work as a whole; from the biggest mammal to the smallest invertebrate.

Caitlin’s interest in ecosystems lead her to a three-month internship in the Limpopo province, working on a Big 5 Game Reserve. While she thoroughly enjoyed her time there, she decided to trade the bushveld for the marine environment, to follow what she is truly passionate about.

Caitlin has a deep love and appreciation for the watery world, from marine to freshwater to estuaries, she loves it all. Caitlin is most looking forward to learning about the rocky shores and larger mammal behaviour patterns and can’t wait to continue her internship with NVT.

Rí Galway

Rí Galway

December 2018 - March 2019

Rí Galway, has come to us from Ireland. Rí studied wildlife biology at Institute Technology Tralee and is currently on a gap year to explore the working life of a conservationist and the range of work available.

Rí has spent the last 3 months in the region of Limpopo on a big 5 reserve and is now spending another 3 months along the coast here with NVT. He hopes to get a large range of experience with as much diversity as possible. Currently Rí has gotten an interest in community work, focusing mainly on the environmental education side.

Rí hopes to return to university after another few months of volunteering in conservation so that he can make a more insightful decision into his career path.

Talya Honor

Talya Honor

October 2018 - January 2019

Talya Honor comes to us from Cape Town, South Africa. Talya graduated with a degree in Politics and Sociology at the University of Cape Town but soon realised a passion for teaching and has been teaching English overseas and Environmental Education in SA for the past 8 years. Talya is also incredibly passionate about the environmental and conservation and is eager to learn as much as possible as an Education Intern with NVT!

Rose Angela

Rose Angela

September 2018 - December 2018

Rose joins NVT from the UK where she has spent the last year working for a conservation trust. Her previous experience mostly comprised of grass and woodland ecology so moving to Natures Valley is a great new challenge. She has aspirations to go to university in the future to study conservation or sustainability and hopes to work out exactly what path to pursue later. Currently she is excited to get involved with the marine debris project as at home she has spent a lot of time in advocacy and campaigning against disposable plastics.

Olivia Saacke

Olivia Saacke

September 2018 - November 2018

Olivia is 22 years old and from Lexington, VA. She recently graduated from James Madison University with a BSc. in Geographic Science, concentrating in Environmental Conservation, Sustainability, and Development. She has always enjoyed being in nature but other hobbies include rugby, soccer, and hiking. Olivia is passionate about environmental conservation and excited to participate in fieldwork and get hands on experience! 

Megan Fowler

Megan Fowler

July - August 2018 (volunteer)

Megan is a 21-year-old from Wales. She has recently completed her degree in Zoology with Climate Change from Bangor University and will be starting her Masters studying freshwater ecology in September. Megan is passionate about research and monitoring for conservation. She joined the NVT team for a short period of 4 weeks and is excited to gain some hands-on experience in Nature’s Valley.  

Sabrina Engelmaier

Sabrina Engelmaier

June 2018 (volunteer)

Sabrina is an 18-year-old from Austria and Argentina. She came to NVT due to her interest in conservation and ecology. She plans to attend university in September to study environmental sciences and economics. With the help of the trust, she was able to gain first-hand experience and attain knowledge from all the staff and interns. She thoroughly enjoyed her 3-week stay and hopes that next time she is able to stay longer. She met wonderful people, who welcomed her and treated her like she was part of the team, even though she is 18 years old. Sabrina learned all about marine conservation, bird ringing, and how to work in a team.

It’s gone by so quickly! I don’t want to leave! Just look at the view.

Christina Hoang

Christina Hoang

May 2018 - August 2018

Christina joins us from Toronto, Canada, where she developed an interest in sustainable development in urbanizing areas. Over time her interest in sustainable development expanded beyond cities as she learned more about vulnerable locations that rely on their ecosystems – especially coastal populations. She is eager to learn more about the ins and outs of what it takes to work in an environmental NPO and is excited to join NVT in assisting with the marine debris project.

Christina just finished her fourth year at York University where she studies International Development, specializing in environmental studies and migration studies, along with a minor in Mathematics. She hopes her passion for social justice and science will allow her to make a positive contribution to conservation research.

Leandro Evangelista

Leandro Evangelista

May 2018 - August 2018

Leandro is from Toronto, Canada, joining us for a 3-month internship. He completed his 3rd year at York University where is pursing an Honours B.A. in psychology. He loves anything to do with nature and animals, and he saw this as great chance to work with them overseas. Leandro will be helping us with the Environmental Education program and all other current projects. He is very curious and eager to learn about everything NVT does. Leandro knows he will end up working with alternative medicine, even though the path forward is not quite clear yet. He is deeply curious about humans and their capability to heal themselves. He believes we all have a wealth of resources within ourselves to heal and understand who we are. He affirms that our connection to nature is a very important piece to improving our overall well-being. He is beyond excited to be here, and extremely grateful, because this experience will help him grow and put into practice what he advocates.

Yannick Pauli

Yannick Pauli

February 2018 - May 2018

Yannick is from Zurich, Switzerland and joined us for a 3-month internship. He is currently in the last year of his BSc. degree in Natural Resource Sciences with a specialization in nature management at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. He also did a minor in field ornithology last year and is stoked to get some practical experience with birds, which he’ll hopefully use for future projects back at home. After completing his BSc. he would like to do an MSc in Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management and gain further knowledge.

I will be assisting on NVTs Coastal Impact Program for three months and hope to make a valuable contribution to the important work NVT is doing to preserve the coastal ecosystems in the area.

Hayley Mitchell

Hayley Mitchell

February 2018 - April 2018

Hayley is an accountant from Toronto, Canada. She’s always been passionate about the ocean and environment and studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph for 2.5 years but due to her location (being far from any coast) she changed degrees and pursued accounting as a career. Two years at a desk job for someone who has a love for the outdoors, along with a quarter-life crisis: it was an equation that resulted in some big life changes such as going abroad, trying something new and getting some experience in conservation (NVT). After her [amazing] time with NVT, she will be moving to the West coast of Canada – BC – to be with the ocean.

Her end goal is to find a way to merge her financial background along with conservation. 🙂 And of course, save the oceans…

Natasha Jacob

Natasha Jacob

January 2018 - March 2018

Natasha is a 19-year-old from near Winchester in England. She is currently in her Gap year and has been travelling since September when she started on the west coast of Scotland. Since December, Natasha has been in South Africa, taking in as many sights and experiences as she can, as well as reconnecting with her family here – she’s half South African you see, but this is her first ever visit to the country! Aside from academia, Natasha thoroughly enjoys spending her time listening to and playing music – as she sings and plays the saxophone – dancing, swimming and generally exercising, spending time with her friends, family and dogs, baking, writing and reading about life. Natasha plans to start University in September to study ‘Human Ecology’, and as part of her time in South Africa, felt it was a good idea to immerse herself in some of the Ecology and conservation of the country to give her a head start with her studies.

In total my time here will have been 6 weeks, but honestly I didn’t anticipate how fast it would fly by. In my last weeks here I am very much looking forward to spending time with the wonderful people of the Trust, immersing myself in the wonderful work that’s taking place here and will forever hold NVT and the awesome work that it does, very close to my heart.

Aidan Henri

Aidan Henri

December 2017 - January 2018

Aidan holds a Master’s degree in Freshwater ecology from the University of Johannesburg. She came down from Johannesburg to have a break from her desk job and gain some hands-on experience in working for a NGO. Aidan is passionate about conservation, research and monitoring and spent three weeks in the Valley working on the Trusts coastal impact and fynbos research programmes. 

Claire Gaudart-Wifling

Claire Gaudart-Wifling

November 2017 - December 2017

Claire joined us from the UK after completing her MSc. in Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Exeter. She has been fascinated and passionate about marine ecology and conservation her whole life, but after working with Blue Tits for her Masters thesis project she realised that she also wanted birds to play a role in her future conservation career – which was why an internship position at NVT was so perfect for her! As a Coastal intern, she has been able to combine her two passions, by helping with the Shorebird Project alongside other marine conservation initiatives such as the Marine Debris Project, and it didn’t hurt that the internship also meant she got to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world for 6 months! Once her internship is complete, Claire hopes to continue building her conservation career in South Africa, as she’s not quite ready to let go of the country just yet!

Sabine Meurrens

Sabine Meurrens

November 2017 - February 2018

Sabine studied in Brussels, Belgium, where she obtained an MSc. in Ecology and Biodiversity. After travelling to Zambia for her thesis project, she really wanted to explore more of the African continent and live and work abroad for a while. She really enjoys lots of outdoor work as well as data analysis. Joining NVT as an ecological research intern, she combined her travel dream with doing just that.

I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do this internship. The plenty of fieldwork on a variety of projects really gave me hands-on experience that will be of great advantage for the rest of my career. By helping with the holiday programme and school camps I also discovered that I find working on environmental education quite interesting too, as I enjoyed it more than I originally thought I would! The things you learn about yourself when you do stuff you wouldn’t normally do!

Liezl Retief

October 2017 - December 2018

Alexandra Bazrafshan

Alexandra Bazrafshan

June 2017 - September 2017

Alexandra joins NVT from Toronto, Canada. She just finished her fourth year at York University, where she is completing a B.Ed. as well as a B.A. in English and French Studies, with the aim of becoming a teacher. She found out about this position through her university, which funds an internship programme to give its students experience living and working abroad.  Although she does not have a scientific background, Alexandra is eager to learn and develop her skills.  She will mainly be assisting with Environmental Education initiatives – and any other projects she can get her hands on! Once these three months are over, Alexandra will be back in Toronto to complete her final year of school. She knows that this experience will give her more knowledge to bring into her future classroom and deepen her appreciation for the hard work that conservationists do. 

Mo Langmuir

Mo Langmuir

June - July 2017 (volunteer)

Mo Langmuir joined the NVT team as a short-term volunteer for two weeks. Mo comes from the UK and is currently busy with her degree in Biology conservation at the University of Nottingham. While she was with NVT she played an amazing role in helping with our recycling and swop shop project with Kurland community. 

Madison Foltz

Madison Foltz

June 2017 - July 2017 (volunteer)

Madison Foltz is from Greenfield, Ohio. She is a second-year student at Ohio University studying English. She has been passionate about wildlife and getting people involved and interested in conservation for a long time. For these reasons, she pursued a volunteer opportunity with NVT, for six weeks, through Ohio University’s Cutler Scholars Program.

I’m excited about this opportunity to get hands-on experiences in a totally new place. Eventually, I hope to complete a minor in environmental science with my degree and write for a conservation-oriented publication or journal.

Zoe Dillman

Zoe Dillman

May 2017 - August 2017

Zoé joins us all the way from Canada’s Capital: Ottawa. She has just completed the first year of her degree in Psychology at York University. As a matter of fact, she found this position through her university’s global internship programme, which gives students the opportunity to experience living and working abroad. Zoé will be a member of our research team assisting with our Coastal Programme, in particular, the marine debris project. Similar to most 19-year-olds, Zoé hasn’t quite decided on a specific career path, so she’s keen to participate in different opportunities with the hope of developing not only her work-related research skills but also her personal growth.

Zoé hopes that the exceptional experience and knowledge gained while here at NVT kick starts her international life journey. Seeing as she plans to study abroad somewhere in Europe for her third year of studies, South Africa won’t be the last time her passport gets an International stamp!

Pascal Künzel

Pascal Künzel

April - July 2017

Pascal is the first Swiss intern at Nature’s Valley Trust. He lives in a German-speaking part of Switzerland and studies nature management at the University of Applied Sciences of Zurich. After his three months as an intern with NVT, he will be attending some final courses before he will write his Bachelor’s thesis and complete a minor in Ornithology.

Pascal is working on the Mosquito Fish Project to get a better understanding of the impact invasive species have on the beautiful Groot River Estuary and its inhabitants. If negative impacts by the mosquito fish are observed through Pascal’s analysis of our three-year dataset, we hope that the study will inform a management plan. The overarching aim would be to reduce the impact of the Mosquito fish to preserve the estuary in all its beauty and diversity.

Joy de Vos

Joy de Vos

March 2017 - August 2017

Joy is a 22-year-old Animal Management student from the Netherlands. She hails from Groningen, which according to her is ‘the best city for Dutch students to live in!’

She is currently in her third year of studies which requires her to complete a five-month internship. Her time with NVT will be her first internship experience abroad, although she has been in South Africa before (2013). Her future plans, after completing her current degree are to work for or manage her own wildlife sanctuary in Africa. She believes that an involved and proactive community is important and essential for any successful conservation programme and would love to add an element of environmental education to her sanctuary.

During my internship at NVT, I want to help plant seeds of conservation ethics. I hope I’ll get to know the local communities and see how NVT promotes an aware community.

Mark Wildschut

Mark Wildschut

March 2017 - August 2017

Mark was born and raised in the city of Leeuwarden, also known as the capital of water technology in the Netherlands. With this background, he decided to study Integrated Coastal Zone Management at Van Hall Larenstein, University of Applied Sciences.

A bit tired of living in the same city for his whole life, he made up his mind and wanted to go abroad for his last internship. After some research, he ended up on the other side of the world, here with the Trust! He will be assisting with our Coastal Programmes, with a specific focus on the Fishing Impacts project for the next five months.

Mark is keen on gaining experience in field work and developing his skillset in order to be prepared for his professional career in the fisheries sector.

Taylor Frerichs

Taylor Frerichs

February 2017 - April 2017

Taylor comes to Nature’s Valley from Denver, Colorado in the United States. She studied Conservation Biology and Ecology as an undergraduate at Montana State University. After graduating in May 2016, she decided to use the rest of the year to gain valuable work experience before starting her Master’s degree. The internship with NVT provided an exciting opportunity to gain fieldwork and other research experience, along with an insight into the inner workings of a conservation organization. These opportunities, combined with the chance to travel to a new part of the world were something Taylor just couldn’t say no to, and she looks forward to everything these next three months will bring.

Aurora Hood

Aurora Hood

January 2017 - March 2017

Aurora grew up in rural Illinois, USA, where she discovered her passion for conservation. She spent her time as an undergrad at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul in Minnesota studying Biology and Psychology. There, Aurora also monitored local water quality and conducted research on woodpecker predation of the emerald ash borer in local forests. After receiving her BSc in December of 2016,  she spent time with her family before joining the NVT Shorebird team in January. After her time with NVT, she will be pursuing her Master’s Degree in Applied Conservation and Ecology at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. Aurora’s greatest loves are woodpeckers, prairies, and Lake Superior.

Harry Lockwood

Harry Lockwood

January 2017 - February 2017 (volunteer)

Harry is a prospective engineering student at the University of Cape Town with a deep passion for marine ecosystems. He came to NVT as a volunteer to gain first-hand experience in marine conservation. He was welcomed warmly into the family and fitted in well being the youngest of the volunteers at just 18.

He came down from Johannesburg to help volunteer for a 4-week break before the start of university. In his four weeks, he has done: bird ringing, raptor ringing, mosquitofishing and and took part in NVT’s quarterly Groot River fish survey.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the NVT and the people who make up the small but impressive backbone of this NGO, it was definitely an amazing experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a passion for marine conservation. I intend to come back and help further, once I have finished my degree.

Jesse Beck

Jesse Beck

December 2016 - February 2017

Jesse received his BSc in Biogeoscience from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2015. While at university, Jesse became interested in ornithology and has since been doing seasonal avian fieldwork. He worked with large macaws in Peru and conducted avian point counts in Iowa before joining Nature’s Valley Trust. He plans on conducting point counts in the Southern Great Plains upon returning to the USA.

Andrea Gress

Andrea Gress

September 2016 - February 2017

Andrea grew up on a farm in Canada, where she spent her spare time outdoors developing a strong passion for the environment. After completing a degree in Renewable Resource Management, Andrea decided to go adventuring in Australia, Vietnam and New Zealand. While traveling, she held numerous roles as a tour guide, but longed for something more. Andrea has now settled into Nature’s Valley for six months, where she hopes to kick start a career in conservation.

Christina Marques

Christina Marques

September 2016 - February 2017

South African born Christina always dreamt about becoming a marine biologist. So when she finalized her degree while growing up in Portugal and returned 20 years later to what she has endlessly considered home, she found that she had a passion for conservation/rehabilitation, in particular, of seabirds, which came about when she completed a very educational and fulfilling internship at SANCCOB assisting in the rehabilitation of various seabirds and hand-rearing of African penguins. She so thoroughly enjoyed her time working on seabirds that she searched for something similar but different enough to keep her engaged, which brought her to Nature’s Valley Trust and the plight of the White-fronted Plover.

Amber Hatch

Amber Hatch

September 2016 - December 2016

Amber Hatch grew up in South East London and attended university in Cambridge to gain a degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. After university, she worked as an Animal Technician in Cambridge and then landed a job as an Ecological Field assistant working in the Scottish Uplands. It was here that her love of fieldwork bloomed and she began really showing an interest in conservation research. She’s always had a keen interest in birds so when the epic chance to get involved with the White-fronted Plover project arose, she jumped at the chance.

Carissa Wasyliw

Carissa Wasyliw

August 2016 - November 2016

Carissa joins us from Canada, one of the two Canadians on the 2016/17 shorebird team. Having studied conservation biology as a part of her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta, she is very keen to assist in learning more about the decline in population of the White-fronted Plovers, and what can be done to help them out! Carissa grew up spending much of her time outdoors, which has helped foster her love of nature and all that is in it. To this day she remains an adventure seeker, so when the opportunity to come to South Africa arose, it was too good to pass up. When you see her around the valley, do not hesitate to say hi!

Rebecca 'Becky' Padget

Rebecca 'Becky' Padget

July 2016 - August 2016 (volunteer)

Becky is a biology student at the University of York with a particular interest in ecology. She spent four weeks with NVT to get first-hand experience of conservation in action, and because of her interest in practical application of scientific research.

Sara Jean Banks

Sara Jean Banks

July 2016 (volunteer)

Sara Jean Banks joins us from Denver, Colorado.  She currently serves as a science teacher for a secondary school and also serves as a guest lecturer for the University of Colorado.  She has earned both a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver.

Her passion has always been with science but realized early on that she had a knack for working with kids of all age levels and backgrounds.  It made sense to incorporate these two into a perfect union with teaching! As an early child, she had always dreamed of coming to Southern Africa to see the wildlife and experience the different cultures.  She finally made this dream come true.  She is a firm believer in learning and interacting with locals wherever she travels.  She searched for an organisation that would put up with her, let her learn about their work and cultures and also participate in fieldwork that she could hopefully incorporate into her own course curriculums back home. Nature’s Valley fit quite nicely!

Ben Lucking

Ben Lucking

June 2016 - July 2016 (volunteer)

Ben is a high school student originally from England, but currently living in Dexter, Michigan. He has always been interested in nature and enjoys birding, photography, and soccer. He volunteered at NVT to gain a better understanding of what conservation work is like, and will take a biology related field in university. 

Madeleine Pienaar

Madeleine Pienaar

June 2016 - July 2016 (volunteer)

Madeleine Pienaar is a third-year Conservation Ecology student at Stellenbosch University. Madeleine and her friend, Megan, came to volunteer at NVT and get some first-hand experience in the conservation field. Being a science student and having an interest in nature and sustainability, the Nature’s Valley Trust seemed like an amazing place to spend three weeks with Madeleine.

I generally try to not have expectations, but whatever remained lurking was completely exceeded. Thank you for all the insights, experiences and good vibes. 

Megan McCarthy

Megan McCarthy

June 2016 - July 2016 (volunteer)

Megan McCarthy is from Cape Town where she is currently in ther third year of Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University. She found out about the Trust through a UCT professor she met while on a field trip about the Battle of Blaauwberg Hill. When she leaves she goes back to her studies and from there she has no set plans but hope to end up in the Valley again one day!

Pilar Bayon

Pilar Bayon

April 2016 - June 2016

Pilar is a Journalism and International relation student from Madrid (Spain). She came to Nature’s Valley Trust as part of an Aid and Development programme in the Netherlands. She enjoyed working in research and environmental education during the 8 weeks here. For this reason, she would like to orientate her professional career to environmental and science journalism.
Hanna Rots

Hanna Rots

April 2016 - June 2016

Hanna is from Groningen in the Netherlands. She is an applied psychology student at Hanze University, where she minored in International Aid and Development. She really wanted to go abroad and do something for a community and combine it with environmental issues. Working at NVT was a perfect opportunity for her.

During her time in Nature’s Valley, she worked on the educational side of Nature’s Valley Trust.

Working with the local community was really special. The children are so kind and interested! Working with Cindy was inspiring!

Besides working on the educational programs she also did research. She hopes to get a job working with environmental issues. This experience also helped her in getting more direction in life.

For me this was a great time where I could really develop myself!’

Matthew Logan

Matthew Logan

March 2016 - April 2016

Matthew is an 18-year-old from Scotland who volunteered with the trust (for 5 weeks) during his year off between school and university. During his time with the trust he was involved in a range of projects, including organising holiday programme activities, monitoring beach usage and heading the initial stages of camera trap surveys – documenting the presence of animals in and around the Valley. In September Matthew will return to Scotland to begin studying Ecology at Edinburgh University, where the experience and knowledge he gained at NVT will no doubt give him a head start!

Audrey Bonk

Audrey Bonk

January 2016 - July 2016

Audrey Bonk is from Chanhassen, Minnesota in the United States. She studied animal ecology at Iowa State University. During her time as an undergraduate, she fell in love with birds and has made it her passion to become a leading ornithologist. Audrey joined NVT as an intern working on the Shorebird Project.

In 6 months time I hope to accomplish writing and publishing a paper about white-fronted plovers.

Jennifer Parker

Jennifer Parker

January 2016 - April 2016

Jennifer joins us from the UK and graduated from the University of Sussex where she studied, er… English Literature and Film! She’s worked in the tourism industry for nearly 8 years in all sorts of different roles including sales, accounting, sustainability and product management. Jennifer is passionate about sustainable travel and using tourism to benefit the people and places that need it most while causing as little harm as possible. She also drinks a LOT of tea

Chloe Brookes

Chloe Brookes

December 2015 - June 2016

Chloe is a zoology graduate, from the UK, joining the Nature’s Valley Trust to gain knowledge and experience working with shorebirds. She also worked with the environmental education director to gain experience in community engagement and education. Chloe has particularly enjoyed meeting staff members and volunteers with a similar enthusiasm for nature conservation. 

Alex Cook

Alex Cook

November 2015 - February 2016

Alex comes from the coastal peninsula of Cape Cod Massachusetts where she developed a passion for coastal ecosystems and the species that inhabit them. She has focused her studies and work experiences on shorebirds in the United States and is very excited to work with a new species of plover, the White-fronted Plover, here with Nature’s Valley Trust.  She had a great time getting to know the beautiful beaches of the area and adding new birds to her life list!  

Kersten Kober

Kersten Kober

October 2015 (volunteer)

Kirsten was a Seabird Ecologist, working for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in Aberdeen, Scotland. At home, she is mostly involved in work in marine seabird protection areas around the UK. To get a break from her desk work, and because she planned to take part in the World Seabird Conference 2015 in Cape Town, she decided to make the long journey really worthwhile by adding some fieldwork with the Trust to her trip. She spent two weeks in the Valley, where she happily engaged in all kinds of activities, with or without birds.

Julia Brown

Julia Brown

October 2015 - December 2015

Julia is a graduate from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She came to Nature’s Valley to gain some field experience, but spends most of her time working in the social media space as she realised she doesn’t like long grass (snakes…). Some of her highlights have been participating in mist netting and finding some plover chicks on the beach! 

Twan Slagter

Twan Slagter

September 2015 - January 2016

Twan Slagter hails from the Netherlands where he attends Van Hall-Larenstein University of Applied Sciences. He is here as part of a 5-month internship for a Coastal and Marine Management course. Twan has always been passionate about nature and the conservation of it. He also enjoys the coastal environment and is happy to be part of the White-fronted Plover research, which will allow him ample time on the beach

Craig Midgley

Craig Midgley

September 2015 - November 2015

Craig Midgley has an MSc degree in Fisheries Science from Rhodes University. He spent the last year working at SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) rehabilitating African penguins and other marine birds. He has a passion for the coastal and marine environment and the associated fauna which landed him on the shores of NVT. He will be assisting one of our Coastal projects, for three months, focussing on the White-fronted Plover. Craig hopes to broaden his conservation skill set to allow him to pursue a career in fisheries and/or ornithology.

Sam Stretton

Sam Stretton

August 2015 - September 2015

Sam worked in the corporate world of logistics and training for 20 years before she decided to take a career break and take some time out. She was looking for a volunteering organisation to spend a couple of months with to gain a clearer perspective on her future. Nature’s Valley Trust was recommended to her by another volunteering agency as a place she should consider.

Since arriving at the Trust she has been exposed to all aspects of the research, development and educational programmes. With her training background, she tended to lean towards the educational aspect of NVT and found a niche in designing and structuring training for the Adopt-a-Beach programme.  Being passionate about marine conservation she took the opportunity to explore and document the abundance of life found in the Nature’s Valley rocky shores.

Ukyoung Chang

Ukyoung Chang

May 2015 - June 2015

Ukyoung is a student at Duke University, in North Carolina, USA, studying Biology. She first fell in love with South Africa when she studied abroad through OTS (Organization for Tropical Studies) for a semester, and not wanting to leave the motherland, contacted NVT about the internship opportunity. During her stay at Nature’s Valley, her main focus was a research project on the effects of bird exclusion cages (large and small mesh size) on the bee visitation rate of Kniphofia uvaria. She also worked on a bird themed environmental education booklet to assist with outdoor classrooms.

Karen Barlow

Karen Barlow

May 2015 (volunteer)

Karen joined the NVT team for a two-week period in May 2015. She comes from Texas, in the USA. She has a BA in Recreational Management, and Social Studies and has a background in working in campground management (Parks and Recreation). Karen was doing a round-the-world trip to gain knowledge and experience in the conservation field and stopped off at NVT to assist us before she moved on to explore the conservation sector a bit more, elsewhere.

Robin Fokker

Robin Fokker

February 2015 - July 2015

Robin did his internship with the Nature’s Valley Trust as a part of the Bachelor’s course: Integrated Coastal Zone Management, which he is completing at Van Hall Larenstein, Netherlands. This course consists of two internships abroad of five months each. After doing the first one, in Slovenia, with a focus primarily on labwork, he decided that he wanted to gain some experience in the field and venture outside of Europe. With the internship with the NVT, these two were combined perfectly, with a project titled: The spatial distribution of beach litter and beach visitors on Nature’s Valley Beach, South Africa.

Robin describes his times at NVT as: ‘some of the best months of my life, gaining experience in so much more than I could have hoped for. I met some great people and made some greater friends, making it an experience I will always remember!

Megan Haurvette

Megan Haurvette

January 2015 (volunteer)

Megan was a Nature Conservation student from CPUT who won a weeks stay on our volunteer programme on Birdlife SA’s seabird quest competition.

Megan said: ‘I really enjoyed the exposure I got when participating in NVT’s research programmes.’

Felix Zundel

Felix Zundel

August 2014 - January 2015

Felix was a student from the Netherlands doing an internship with NVT in the completion of his bachelor’s degree in Integrated Coastal Zone Management at Van Hall Larenstein. For Felix, this internship was his first big journey into another continent. The first four months he spent based in Nature’s Valley, he experienced it out of peak season with empty beaches and so much space. He also had the opportunity to stay in Plettenberg Bay for a month, experiencing the difference between the solitude of empty beaches and a bit of “city life” in Plett. For his research project, he interviewed fishermen on the beaches and collect data concerning litter, catches and attitudes of anglers, enabling the Trust to assess the ecological impact of shore-based fisheries. This was the perfect internship for Felix as he is an absolute outdoors person. He was out on the beach for hours doing research but even in his downtime could not keep away from the splendour of the coastline. His research took place in 3 beautiful sections along the famous Garden Route coastline, each completely different.

Felix reflecting on his time here: ‘What I liked most I think was the way the internship was set up from the Trust’s side, it was not just taking part and helping out but I had my own project where I had to take full responsibility for and I really worked as part of a team taking part in all other projects.

Adeleen Cloete

Adeleen Cloete

December 2014 (volunteer)

Ella works in Integrated Coastal Management for the provincial government of the Northern Cape. She spent two week in December 2014 helping us facilitate our holiday programme.

Sunette Du Preez

Sunette Du Preez

December 2014 (volunteer)

Sunette was a BSc Zoology student from Rhodes University. Sunette not only participated in fieldwork for our research programmes but was a valuable asset for our December holiday programme.

Elrea Appelgryn

Elrea Appelgryn

May 2014 - July 2014 (volunteer)

Elrea Appelgryn joined the NVT team, as a volunteer, after completing her MSc in Genetics at the University of Pretoria. She wanted to experience something different to her own, predominantly laboratory-based research and everyday life in Pretoria, as well as take an important break before starting her PhD.

During her six weeks in Nature’s Valley she was surrounded by many passionate conservationists – strengthening the notion of appreciating and protecting our natural environment, she had in her mind. She strongly states:

It is important that every person does their part, whether it involves working in conservation full-time as a researcher, spreading the message through education, being involved in formulating or implementing policy, or at the very least just supporting great organizations dedicated to preserving our natural heritage.

Katie Powell

Katie Powell

April 2014 - May 2014 (volunteer)

Katie hails from the University of Sheffield in the UK, where she is majoring in Zoology. She volunteered with NVT for two months to increase her practical field skills as well as quench her thirst for travel and sightseeing.

Katie has a strong interest in insects and spent most of her afternoons identifying macro-invertebrates from the Groot River estuary as a contribution to the macro-invertebrate project NVT runs. Her ID skills increased dramatically and, we were later told, helped her tremendously with a project she had scheduled for her final year of study.

Katie reports on another side of the NVT experience:

I have learnt a great deal about some of the social and cultural issues present in South Africa, which I think are important to understand when working in this field. By staying in a house with the NVT interns, I have had the pleasure of discovering a whole new culture through listening to their stories and spending time with them. I feel like I’ve made a new group of life-long friends, and I will miss them all significantly.

Olivia Reddy

Olivia Reddy

April 2014 (volunteer)

Olivia has a background in environmental politics and communication and wanted to gain practical skills in conservation while with NVT.

She believes the most valuable part of her stay at NVT was watching, observing and learning how to run an NPO. She has learned a lot about managing an NPO and the difficulties a small organisation like this faces.

I’m not only leaving with practical skills in conservation and NGO management, but also with increased self-confidence and another family in South Africa.

Kellyn Whitehead

Kellyn Whitehead

March 2014 - March 2015

Kellyn Whitehead began her journey with NVT in March 2014 as a volunteer. She volunteered for a year and during this time worked with the research team. She did her BSc undergrad and BSc Honours in Biodiversity and Ecology through the University of Stellenbosch. Kellyn started the phenology work within the fynbos documenting the flowering times of the plant species as well as identifying what plants are in the Nature’s Valley area. She also helped with environmental education and community.

Michelle Blankenberg

Michelle Blankenberg

November 2013 - December 2013 (volunteer)

Michelle was a BSc Zoology student from Rhodes University. Apart from spending time conducting fieldwork on various research programmes, she played a key role in helping us facilitate the December 2013 holiday programme. Having loved her time volunteering with us so much, Michelle returned to Nature’s Valley in 2014 to collect data for her BSc. Honours project on the baboon-human interaction in Nature’s Valley.

Shirley van de Voorde

Shirley van de Voorde

September 2013 - January 2014

Shirley joined us for a 5-month period in fulfilment of her BSc degree in Coastal Zone management as part of the requirements of Van Hall Larenstein. Her main focus while at NVT was research-related; she monitored the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on African Black Oystercatchers and Kelp Gull breeding success. Her projects covered Robberg Nature Reserve and Keurbooms Nature Reserve. The sites at Robberg had the highest egg predation rate; 67% of eggs laid (over 5 nests) were predated. To test for the effects of human disturbance on birds, she observed their reaction to human beach-goers as well as measured the minimum distance she could get to birds before they were disturbed off the nests. Another aspect of the project looked at how long it took birds to return to the nest and continue brooding. The two species showed a marked difference in their return times. Gulls returned very quickly, while the oystercatchers took far more time to return – taking care to ensure that the location of the nest was as concealed as possible. This is due to different nest protection strategies: the oystercatcher protects its nest through camouflage and distraction while the gull protects its nest through aggression and intimidation.

Pete Morley

August 2013

Pete was an Ecology graduate from the UK who spent two weeks with NVT, gaining valuable field experience in our various research programmes.

Hannah Mountain

August 2013

Hannah was a British school teacher working in Spain. She took time out for two weeks to experience the work of a conservation NGO.

Eliska Padysakova

Eliska Padysakova

July 2013 - August 2013

Eliska was a PhD student from the University of Bohemia in the Czech Republic. She arrived at NVT in July and stayed for 6 weeks – gaining field experience, while working on Erica discolor as part of the Tsitsikamma Fynbos Research Programme.