Blake Ambassador Awards for two Massey students

Marie Potthoff and Shelley Ogle.

Two Massey students have been awarded two of the eleven highly-sought after Blake Ambassador Awards to further their passion for conservation.

The awards are administered by the Sir Peter Blake Trust, in partnership with Antarctica New Zealand, the Antarctic Heritage Trust, NIWA and the Department of Conservation (DOC). They are awarded to students aged 18-25, allowing them to work alongside leading scientists, conservators and rangers over the summer period.

The lucky students are Bachelor of Veterinary Science student Marie Potthoff and master’s in Animal Physiology student Shelley Ogle.

Twenty-one-year old Marie Potthoff will head to Nelson in February to work with DOC rangers and partners on the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (RNRP), one of the original six mainland islands set up in the mid-1990s to test pest control methods and establish best practice for DOC operations.

“I hope to gain experience working with some of New Zealand's most amazing species and gain a better understanding of the type of work that DOC does to protect them,” Miss Potthoff says.

“I'm currently a vet student and I hope to work with wildlife in the future, including doing research. Learning more about the opportunities that exist and what kind of problems conservationists face will be directly relevant.

“I love being outdoors, I cannot wait to be outside in a beautiful place with a chance to learn about so many awesome things!”

Miss Potthoff is an executive member of the Massey Wildlife and Conservation Club and volunteers with local rehabilitation facilities and organises community projects with local schools and community groups to help build more educated and sustainable communities.

Twenty-two-year-old Shelley Ogle will be assisting the dotterel ranger at DOC and local volunteers in January with Port Waikato Beach Care’s Shorebird Protection Programme, where she will monitor the behaviour and breeding success of shorebirds and help run the trapping programme.

“I hope to help make a difference in conservation and community awareness. I’m excited for the opportunity to work alongside DOC and looking forward to getting the community involved in the protection and conservation of the dotterels in Port Waikato,” Miss Ogle says.

“I love working with kids and am very excited to help them learn the importance of protecting the environment and especially the fragile dune ecosystems.”

Miss Ogle’s master’s research is in conservation physiology and looks at the development of stress responses in kororā (little penguin) chicks and how handling can affect this response. She also works at Central Districts Pest Control in Napier doing GIS and data analysis of introduced species monitoring and control operations.

Sir Peter Blake Trust acting chief executive Sally Paterson said, “These programmes offer talented young people unique opportunities to work alongside world-class subject experts.

“By developing new applied skills in the field and building leadership qualities our Blake Ambassadors use these experiences to share and inspire others. Both Marie and Shelley will play an important in role in our summer work, helping us control pests and restore our precious native wildlife.”

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