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Science student Sam Russell

28 June 2022

‘Something worth fighting for’: why Sam is acting on climate and how you can, too

Do you care about the environment? Are you worried about a lack of political action on climate change in recent years, but aren’t sure how you can make a difference or get involved?

Meet Sam Russell, who’s in his second year of a Bachelor of Environmental Science: Conservation and Wildlife Biology. Sam is part of a growing grassroots climate movement – people who are taking it upon themselves to make tangible and measurable environmental and social change at a local level.

Sam is the founder of Urban Guerillas, a group of individuals who have come together to bring about change for our native habitats. Read on to be inspired by Sam’s passion and commitment to make a difference, and learn how you can contribute to climate action in small but important ways.

I’m on the Burwood Campus part-time and working four days a week in Natural Resource Management around Melbourne and surrounding areas. I started back in 2017 doing my Diploma of Science. I finished that, realised I needed to make some money and so unintentionally found myself working in construction. It took me half an apprenticeship, COVID and a little bit of a mental breakdown to figure out what I wanted to do, and now I’m finally back where I need to be.

I grew up in Deniliquin, NSW, and spent most of my childhood on the river, out on farms, looking for animals in the bush and connecting with the land. I grew up with these privileges, which at the time seemed quite untouched by the outside world. Now I know that’s not the case and unfortunately I spent quite some time not doing anything about it. I now live in Kooyong, Naarm/Melbourne, I have this opportunity to finally give back and I’m not going to waste it. I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem, and so I’m getting off the sidelines and doing something about it.

Action on the environment is important to me on so many fundamental levels. I want to preserve what little we have left of this beautiful world for future generations to admire. The connection we all have to this world goes deeper than my own existence. To recognise that, and to put energy towards something much larger than myself, is something worth fighting for.

I have only been volunteering along Gardiners Creek since September 2021 and I already feel connected to its wellbeing. It’s my backyard, and everyone should feel responsible for their own backyard. My professional goals are to expand Urban Guerrillas’ range, including more children and younger minds being involved. I would see the organisation lean off its predecessors, allowing those who built the platform to see new and more innovative minds take the role. The struggle with any industry is not knowing who to contact, and I want to facilitate that gap, bridging people, who – just like me – didn’t know who to contact.

Climate action is a challenge we all face. Through connection, education and restoration we can collectively tackle this enormous issue. Carbon-neutral by 2025 and carbon-negative by 2030 are very realistic and achievable goals.

There are many tips and tricks to lessen your carbon footprint. A great start is to look at what you’re purchasing. Does your produce come from overseas? Is your product mass-produced on the industry scale? If so, shop smaller. Lessen personal transport, take public transport if you can. Turn off power points when not in use, change to LED lighting. Live within your means.

Want to get involved?

If you’d like to help protect the waterways around Deakin’s Burwood Campus, Sam says the following groups are always looking for volunteers:

You can also join Sam and the Urban Guerillas for an upcoming community planting event at Gardiners Creek. Lunch and some equipment will be provided:

When: Saturday 16 July, 11.30am to 3pm
Where: Meet at Glen Iris Wetlands, under the electric tower behind Tooronga Village/Lewin Reserve
Email [email protected] for more information.

If you’re in Geelong, don’t miss the Waurn Ponds Tree-Planting Day – help plant 4500 indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses on campus, and grab a free lunch at Market Hall.

When: Tuesday 26 July, 8am to 1pm
Where: meet at the chapel
Register now.

Sustainability informs everything we do at Deakin. Learn more about how we’re committed to embedding sustainable initiatives and practices in our education, research and campus operations.

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