Written by Jennifer Brousseau
This past week, myself and other members of the Borneo Nature Foundation team visited a local high school in Palangka Raya to talk about our own experience in research and conservation with the hope of empowering students to get involved in science. The members of the team included myself, BNF’s International Visits Coordinator, Nityasa, Field Coordinator for KHDTK Mungku Baru, Eka, Gibbon and Red Langur Scientist and Siska, Conservation Manager. The group of students are getting ready to graduate soon and potentially head off to university, so this was the perfect opportunity to promote different careers in science and share how they can get involved.
I began our talk by speaking about my background in primate behaviour, specifically orangutans. Throughout my portion of the talk, I really wanted to emphasize to the students that a person’s path in the field of science can start out in one direction and then lead to many different opportunities. There are so many opportunities within the field of science, why limit yourself to just one! After I spoke to the students, Nityasa shared her own experiences about attending a university in Malaysia, carrying out research about dietary analysis from otter scats during her undergraduate degree, conducting a red langur internship with BNF last year and currently working as the Field Coordinator for one of BNF’s newest sites. Then, Eka detailed her own journey to joining the BNF team, which involved doing amphibian research, working as a researcher with the Black-crested macaque project in Sulawesi and assisting with orangutan rehabilitation and research in Sumatra.
Finally, Siska recounted her inspiring journey to the students about growing up in a small village near a forest in Kalimantan, receiving a scholarship to attend the University of Palangka Raya and then working her way up in the Center for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatland’s (CIMTROP) office, learning what she could about peat-swamp forests in the process. There was no denying her passion for peat-swamp conservation within her home and how she now channels that passion to do what she can to conserve the surrounding forest.
Each of the ladies had something unique to share with this group of students to hopefully encourage the students in their own pursuit of exploration and innovation to get involved in science. We need more women involved in science on a global scale, including, and especially, within Indonesia, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and most at risk of losing that biodiversity. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I felt extremely inspired by my fellow women in science in the room. I only hope these students shared this same sentiment and felt encouraged by the experiences shared by BNF scientists to pursue their own future in the world of science and conservation.