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Graduate - Elly Love

Elly Love
Elly Love

Elly Love worked with the Australian Grains Genebank, one of the Partnership’s many national and international Associates, to plan a national project around the conservation of wild crop relatives. Associates work with the Partnership on particular projects around plant conservation. Elly’s work has strengthened the relationships between conservation seed banks and Australia’s agricultural genebank, and has helped guide the Partnership’s future collaborations in that field.

Tell us a little about yourself
Growing up I spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors, bushwalking, rock pool rambles, bird watching, camping and so on. This fascination with nature and how things work naturally led to me studying science when I got to University. Specifically Zoology and Ecology, which were my two majors. I had a fantastic time at university with some amazing opportunities, including a trip to study rainforests in Borneo and researching captive breeding programmes for Australian frog species during my Honours year.

What interested you about working in the environmental field?
I always knew that I would end up working in the environment field, because it’s always been my passion. However after studying for most of my life I decided to take a gap after completing my degree to go travelling. Through this experience I witnessed a lot of global environmental devastation and at the same time amazing feats by people to restore and protect species and their ecosystems. What this did for me was highlight what a privileged position I am in to actually help make a difference in the world by working to protect the environment, and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

When did you join the Department and where are you currently working?
I joined the Department through the graduate program this year in 2014. Currently I’m in my second rotation working in the International Branch. My team delivers international policy advice to the Government and is involved in a number of issue-specific international fora. Recently we have been working on preparations for the inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.

What was your role with the Australian Seed Bank Partnership?
Being part of a small team at the Partnership meant I got exposed to a variety of work, including: stakeholder engagement, communications, policy development, project management, research, data management, grant applications, social media engagement, and developing training and capacity building opportunities. I got to work across a number of projects, with my main project developing a business case on Australian Crop Wild Relatives (CWR). Essentially CWR are the ‘wild cousins’ of domestic crop species, such as, rice, corn, wheat, sorghum and the aim of the project was to build ex situ collections of Australian endemic CWR for research, future use and conservation.

What did you enjoy about working for the Partnership? Was there a particular highlight?
I enjoyed everything about working for the Partnership. It was such a fantastic opportunity to work with some many passionate people and I felt like I was making a real contribution to plant conservation. I really loved the opportunity to communicate and engage with public to help promote seed conservation through our website and social media pages. I also loved getting work experience with some of the volunteers at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, going seed collecting and understanding the whole process involved in seed banking.

Did you make any surprising discoveries about plants and seeds when you were working for the ASBP?
Absolutely! Being physically based at the Australian National Botanic Gardens was the perfect opportunity to explore the diversity of Australia’s flora. I remember being completely amazed at the size of a Bunya Pine cone the first time I found one during the Rainforest walk. Working on the Crop Wild Relatives also taught me that in Australia we have native species of rice, eggplant and chickpeas, all of which I had no idea about.

How do you relax after work?
I’m a fairly active person, so my day doesn’t feel complete until I’ve done some form of physical activity, be that a dance, yoga or acrobatics class or playing a game of netball in my local league. On the weekends I love to get out and about, being in Canberra means I’m surrounded by plenty of great opportunities for outdoor activities.