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Andrea Savage

During the first term break of 2017, our family and two friends had the ultimate overseas adventure, on a custom tour with RWE CEO Jess McKelson. I am a science teacher passionate about educating on the important and urgent subject of conservation , habitat protection and social justice. In order to ensure this tour would be right for my family( on their first overseas trip) I was offered the opportunity of Jess phoning me, to talk through the custom itinerary.

I was amazed at how accessible Jess made the trip for us-given we were to be visiting a foreign country, yet all our interests were being catered for. I told Jess it was my husband Greg's interest in seeing his beloved Orangutans that drove the destination of Sumatra for us. It was my interest from a horticultural perspective, in seeing the world tallest flowering plant, the Amorpophallus titanum, that drove my desire to visit the forests containing the most biodiverse vegetation on the planet. If we could also include a spot of fishing, our 18 year old son Marcus would be happy, and if we could include some traditional cooking classes and a visit to a school,  our daughters, Rachel and Melanie,  would consider these a bonus on our RWE tour. The most important thing for all of us, was that the company we choose must be an Ethical company.

With RWE we struck gold! We had an amazing 11 nights away with Jess and her fabulous team of beautiful guides. On coming back home, I was struck with an insatiable desire to support Jess with the work her team doing. I was particularly concerned that her bright star might well burn out whilst she ran between hosting guests on organised tours, scheduled her next dog sterilisation program , initiated her latest Jungle Sistas program, and worked to secure a new wildlife corridor in an important buffer zone. To name only a few of the initiatives she supports!

I processed what my contribution could be almost immediately on my arrival home. I would work with both my local Landcare network and my school to create awareness and funding support. At school, I prepared students to deliver a Palm Oil awareness presentation to the 850 student community. From that, the wonderful school librarian immediately rang Zoo Victoria to organise resources for her to use in a library display on the impacts of the Palm Oil industry.
I used my Instragram account that I operate with the school, to send out the Palm oil App to our 181 'nagle_rainforest_project'  followers. Already there are many students using this in their shopping and driving their mums crazy with how much longer it’s taking to do an “ethical palm oil free” shop in the supermarket!! ( Yay!)
On contacting my Landcare network ( I run a very active Junior Landcare program at Nagle College) ,they suggested I get in touch with International Landcare Australia, as well as come and do a presentation on the Wildlife corridor initaiative to them.
I.L.A immediately wanted to support the Wildlife Corridor Project, working in conjunction with the small school in the neighbouring village of Batu Ronring. Our local Landcare network requested an article written for their monthly publication, and are keen to support the school and the corridor in the immediate future.

This week at our staff meeting, I presented to my 100 colleagues, on Conservation in Sumatra and our International Landcare partnership initiative, as well as circulating the link to the gofundme wildlife corridor fundraiser. An article will be uploaded on the school website next week about my trip and the opportunities for our school families to contribute to the wildlife corridor, and how to become ethical Palm Oil free consumers. I have been booked to speak to one of our towns progressive Rotary groups and will deliver the Conservation in Sumatra presentation, with opportunities for them to support the RWE conservation initiatives.

It seems that the more I talk to people about our Sumatran experience, the more work I get to spread the word! But that’s ok, as this is a real way I feel we can make a difference. My work with the students I teach, has only just begun with regard to my Sumatran experience.

It was only 8 weeks ago that I visited. I look forward to being able to report on the new ways we can support Jess and the RWE Conservation initiatives, empowering the local Indonesian people to further love and protect their most beautiful and amazing rainforest and its unique flora and fauna.



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