Meet Ana Gracanin from the University of Wollongong, one of last year’s recipients of the OEH/ESA Prize for Outstanding Outreach.
Ana spends a lot of time chasing after quolls in the bush, and climbing up trees to study arboreal marsupials; from sugar gliders to greater gliders, and from pygmy possums to brushtail possums. She volunteers with the scientist in schools program, and is the social media and events manager for the conservation research organisation, Team Quoll Illawarra & Southern Highlands. Ana also works as a UOW Science Mentor, helping students as they undertake scientific investigations for Australia’s largest science fair. As an Education Officer at the Australian Botanic Gardens, Ana teaches preschool, primary and high school students, to learn and connect with nature through a range of programs.
As a part of winning the OEH/ESA Prize for Outstanding Outreach in 2017 Ana and the other recipients designed a project where students constructed artificial nests and placed them in their schoolyards—using motion sensor cameras and looking at pecks on the plasticine eggs—to see how vegetation density affects predation rates. Here’s one of the videos.
"Being part of this year’s team was a great experience; our urban ecology experiment was a hit amongst students and they were able to see firsthand the importance of conserving vegetation for wildlife," says Ana.
"I’m passionate about linking science and environmental education to the community, particularly for younger generations as they will be key players in the future of our native flora and fauna. It’s important for young children and students to develop a connection and appreciation for our natural environment."
The OEH/ESA Prize for Outstanding Outreach provides much-deserved recognition to six early-career researchers who are doing an excellent job of communicating their research to the public with a $400 prize and a chance to further their outreach experience in schools.