All Dreams Are Possible

Author: Avryl Brophy

All Dreams Are Possible

My name is Avryl Brophy and I grew up on Vancouver Island (Gabriola) and consider myself to be an Island girl. I have always loved the outdoors and being surrounded by nature.

I am passionate about community, public outreach and travel, however until recently, travelling abroad has always been more of a dream of mine than a reality, as a student and mother of two teenage boys ... I didn’t think I would have the chance. 

When I heard there was an opportunity to combine these two interests of travel and community outreach into my education goals, I applied immediately. And now, I am living my dream!

So, where am I?  
I am in beautiful Grenada; located in the Caribbean and is the last island of the lesser Antilles chain.

How was I able to carry out my dream? 
I was offered a volunteer practicum position in Grenada focusing on bird banding and community outreach, so I approached the Education Abroad department at Vancouver Island University and found out about the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES).

When I applied I didn’t think that I would be successful, but I was! I immediately had the support (financial, emotional, and navigational) that I needed to take on this amazing opportunity!  The planning to embark on a three-month journey to Grenada began.

What am I doing here?

I am assisting on a masters’ thesis project concentrating on ornithology research.

We utilize bird banding (the process of catching, banding, and releasing birds) to document scientific data in order to learn more about the lifespan, breeding, and migration of birds in the Caribbean.

Unlike in North America, not much is known about bird phenology in the Caribbean, due in part to lack of funding and expertise. Birds provide an important link to humans and to our environment, as sentinel species that can detect pollution and other environmental issues at early stages.  Birds also help agriculture, acting as pest control aides, pollinators, and agents of seed dispersal. The data we collect is shared globally and creates a foundation to help understand many other topics about wildlife and environmental conservation in the Caribbean.

On top of this great research opportunity, I have been able to participate in community engagement. By preforming bird banding demonstrations, we have been able to give the opportunity for locals to get up-close to birds. It has proven to be very effective in creating deeper interest in getting involved in volunteering through citizen science activities like ebirding.

Citizen science is an amazing concept that proves each one of us can make valuable contributions to science by completing small simple daily tasks related to data collection. By broadening environmental knowledge throughout the community, we increase the ability of citizen science and give people the tools to get involved with something meaningful and personally fulfilling.

A goal of mine since childhood has been to bring awareness to the need for wildlife protection. Working on this project and engaging with the community about the importance of conservation and protection of animals and the environment is a fulfilling achievement for me. Further, working in a developing country where there is little to no access to conservational and environmental programs makes this experience even more important and personally rewarding.

Bird banding demonstration

So, what I have learned so far?

In the last six weeks I have been lucky enough to see the effects of what something as simple as bird banding demonstration can do to engage a community, generate interest and build stronger connections to the environment. I have also learned that a sense a community is very important. Each one of use can make a positive difference, but working together as a community we create an unstoppable force.

So, join forces!  Find something you are passionate about, and make a positive difference.

All dreams and aspirations can come true if you follow your heart and believe in yourself.

 - Avryl Brophy, VIU Natural Resource Protection Degree and Queen Elizabeth Scholar


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