Know a Year 8 or 9 student who loves the ocean? Once a year, our Youth Coastal Ambassadors program gives young people an opportunity to be totally immersed in Adelaide’s coast and marine environment – its blue backyard.
Through an inspiring 2-day program full of hands-on experience, ambassadors-to-be get the skills and knowledge needed to spread the word about and help protect this precious part of Adelaide.
Read on to discover 7 reasons to take part in the program, including some insights from one of our graduate ambassadors, Eloise, who completed the program in 2021:
Eloise says the reason she applied for the Youth Coastal Ambassadors program was to gain a deeper understanding about our coastal environment.
‘I am heavily involved in my school’s environment club and have a passion for the coast and marine life,’ she said.
Being part of the program inspired Eloise to want to learn even more, help make a difference – not just on the coast but inland too –, and organise work experience in an environment-related role.
With about 32 young people taking part in the program each year, Youth Coastal Ambassadors is a great opportunity for students to connect with others who are passionate about the same things – and might even end up working in the same field one day.
Eloise said that one of her main reasons for applying was to, ‘meet other like-minded young people who have similar interests as myself.’
‘I really enjoyed meeting everyone, we quickly became friends and shared stories about what had led us to be in the program.
‘I was really inspired by what they had achieved and this challenged my own thinking about how I can continue to positively impact and advocate for our environment.’
The Youth Coastal Ambassadors program is all about immersion – getting out onto the coast and into the sea, to experience topics discussed in the classroom sessions.
Eloise said that the hands-on component was her favourite part.
‘Not only did we learn in a classroom environment, but we also explored the coastal surroundings that we learnt about,’ she said.
‘I really enjoyed the experiences such as kayaking in the Port River Dolphin Sanctuary, snorkelling in the mangroves and being a part of a VR [virtual reality] scuba diving experience.’
Even though it’s a less that 30-minute drive or 45-minute bike ride from the Adelaide CBD to the nearest beach, it’s easy to forget about the coast if you don’t live right near it. After all, Adelaide has lots of other great nature to distract us too.
Eloise says this program made her more aware and appreciative of Adelaide’s unique coastal environments.
‘Since my course in 2021 I have become a qualified scuba diver and with the knowledge I have gained on this course the experience of diving has become so much more precious,’ she said.
‘I have also furthered my interest by completing environmental work experience in 2022, where I was a part of a tree planting day in a wetlands area.’
Perhaps you’ve never thought to kayak through mangroves or snorkel part of the 8000 km long Great Southern Reef, which Adelaide’s reefs are part of?
‘The group that I was a part of was lucky enough to go to the Port River Dolphin Sanctuary, we were able to kayak through the mangroves of which we were learning about in the morning,’ Eloise said.
‘I really enjoyed this hands-on learning and found that the mangroves themselves were quite interesting and very crucial to the area due to the lack of mangrove forests around the world.’
Can you name the South Australian marine emblem? It’s the leafy seadragon – and Eloise thinks everyone in Adelaide should know about it. We tend to agree.
‘This amazing marine animal is heavily camouflaged as it lives among seagrasses and it is only found on the southern coast of Australia, making it unique to our coasts,’ she said.
‘They are known to live from 7 to 10 years and are considered near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List due to the major threat of pollution, loss of habitat and illegal collection.’
Eloise says she was surprised by the range of topics covered during the 2 days.
‘Not only were we learning but interacting with nature as well,’ she said.
‘The experiences that the program offered were vast and engaging especially in the little time that we had together.'
‘I would tell other students that this is an amazing experience which you should not pass up, especially if you are interested in the environment and health of our wonderful coast,’ she said.
‘Through this experience I have learnt things I would never have known as well as made new friends with similar interests to myself.
‘It is also really interesting to see what other students your own age have been doing within the community.’
Explore some of the topics covered in this year’s program.
Applications for our Youth Coastal Ambassadors program open once a year, usually in February. The program runs in the autumn school holidays.
Head to the webpage for more details and to discover the next intake.
The Youth Coastal Ambassadors program is led by Ocean Imaging marine biologist and filmmaker Stefan Andrews, and Burka-Senior Man Karl Winda Telfer, founder of Yellaka – Old Wisdom-New Ways, and, coordinated and funded by Green Adelaide.