Amy Schroeder | WWF South Africa

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Amy Schroeder

Amy Schroeder

2019 Intern

As a child, Amy Schroeder’s dream was to become a veterinarian, but this goal changed as she started looking at nature differently. Not only seeing it as one aspect but viewing the world as a whole, and making sense of ecosystems and life processes in her head. She realised that helping the environment where many animals and plants live would be more impactful than focusing on one part of nature.

Her passion for the study of ecosystems grew when she started her tertiary education at the University of the Western Cape in 2013. There she got to understand the complex thoughts that she had when she was younger. It was also during this period that she realised that this is the field in which she belongs.

We asked Amy to tell us a bit more about her career path and hopes for the future:

What motivated your career choice?
My love for Life Sciences is what led me to a career in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology.
The focus of my Master’s degree, also completed at the University of the Western Cape, is small-scale farming in one of the biodiversity hotspots in South Africa – the Succulent Karoo. It has provided me with positive insight into the role of nature in people’s lives. With the knowledge and research skills I have gained, I wish to help vulnerable communities throughout the country realise the benefits of conserving biodiversity.
 
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
In my role as a Vegetation Mapping intern at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), I hope to acquire more experience in research and in working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – as this is a valuable and rare skill to have in the fields of Ecology and Conservation.
 
Spatial data allows us to explore other ways of visualising the environment. It helps us to analyse the distribution of species, measure and monitor biodiversity, and identify the main concerns in conservation management.

What excites you the most about the internship?
Most of my tasks at SANBI involve assisting with updating the national vegetation map of South Africa for 2020. This is exciting for me as I get to work and learn more, not only about vegetation but also about the use of GIS. These skills will benefit me in my academic and working career.

What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
Climate change is something that has been happening for decades. However, due to global warming, the process has accelerated, making it a huge issue in our society. Its impacts are causing harmful effects across the world, especially within vulnerable communities as they mostly depend on natural resources for basic services.

What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
As a young researcher I would like to take on projects that encourage positive relationships between people and the environment. It is important to conduct research that benefits people and nature, as both contribute to the well-being of communities.

If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Having equal opportunities is paramount to me. If I could change the way people treat each other, I would. Being a woman of colour in the field of science is a role that I would gladly fill to inspire others to do the same.

Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire my older sister for her dedication and hard work. She put in so many years towards achieving her doctoral degree, while also helping me achieve my own career dreams. Through her work, she has become a respected scientist in her field.

My sister has shown me that if you work hard, you will be seen and appreciated. 

What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
With so many opportunities to gain knowledge and skills, I believe that my generation can initiate an educated way of looking at the environmental and social challenges we face today.

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