Megan van der Bank
“The internship opened my eyes and mind to many of the broader political, environmental and socio-economic issues in South Africa.”
Megan grew up in a family that reared chickens and grew vegetables in the backyard. Her father taught her to love animals and cherish the natural environment. On a school field trip up the Garden Route she visited an oyster farm and was impressed by the freedom of the outdoor environment that the employees worked in. For a while Megan was interested in pursuing a career in aquaculture, but through her studies this interest developed into a passion for aquatic conservation. Megan holds the position of Project Officer at Cape Nature.
Megan attained her undergraduate degree in Zoology and Botany and her Honours degree in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology from the University of the Western Cape. She continued on to complete her Masters in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology. Her research focused on understanding the ways that food moves within the Northern Namibian marine ecosystem.
Megan’s internship was split between the Environmental Leaders Programme and the Marine Protected Areas Programme at WWF-SA. She was pleased to be able to tailor the internship to meet her varied interests. The internship opened her eyes to many of the broader political, environmental and socio-economic issues in the South African context. She found it an enjoyable way of crossing the divide between university and the work environment.
Megan currently works as a Project Officer at Cape Nature as part of the Invasive Alien Fauna Unit. Her job is to coordinate projects that mitigate the effect that alien invasive plants and animals, such as feral pigs and certain fish, have on the environment. She enjoys the hands-on, outdoor fieldwork that her job entails. She spends the summer months snorkelling in river systems to collect data. Her advice to graduates entering the environmental sector is not to have too narrow a view with respect to what they want to do within the conservation sector and instead to adapt to unexpected opportunities when they arise. She feels that varied experience allows one to take a holistic approach to conservation issues.