Elana has an extraordinary passion for the environment which was sparked by experiences while growing up in Indonesia when she learned about species, such as orang utans, that were becoming endangered because of threats to their habitat by humans. Extensive travel during her Gap year in 2007, which included volunteering in Spain on an artificial reef system, brought to her attention how much of an impact our day-to-day actions have on ecosystems and the environment and this set her on a path of environment studies.
Elana, has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Canterbury, which included a year's exchange in the USA where she spent time on a research sailing ship studying the effects of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. She is now studying for an Erasmus Mundus Masters in Environmental Science, Policy and Management (MESPOM) in Europe.
Elana has been involved in environmental projects in Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Australia, as well as back at home in New Zealand, and was part of the 2011 New Zealand Youth Delegation to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in South Africa.
Elana indulges her love for marine environments through Scuba diving, but this has also shown her the degradation and destruction that modern practices have brought to marine ecosystems, something she wants to see halted through the establishment of more Marine Protected Areas, especially in the Southern Ocean.
Elana believes that education on environmental issues is the key to making the changes needed to protect ecosystems and ensure the viability of our planet for future generations and should begin in early childhood. Elana is excited about fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting Antarctica and is looking forward to using various forms of media to promote awareness of Antarctic environmental issues to the global community, in particular to youth.
Elana considers Sir Peter Blake an outstanding leader and role model and has always been inspired by his commitment to whatever he undertook. Elana feels privileged to have been chosen as the 2013 Antarctic Youth Ambassador for Environment and intends to use this as part of the pathway to follow in Sir Peter's footsteps - in her own red socks.
"While we could become discouraged by all the publicity about environmental degradation, and the effects of climate change on our planet, I believe we have the ability to use the knowledge we have to make the changes required in the way we run our lives and business to ensure a healthy planet for future generations." Elana Hawke