As those who will be most and longest affected by current environmental policy, young people are key stakeholders in its development. By equipping them with skills and knowledge to engage in environmental challenges, the Award can prepare young people to create more sustainable solutions.
When 19 year old Priya Agarwal began her Duke of Ed journey she not only discovered her passion towards the environment but also began a journey towards creating a more sustainable world. Here she tells us her story…
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. With drive and determination, each one of us can be a leader in creating the world we want to live in. I believe that we should all strive to create a world where social justice, economic prosperity and environmentally sustainable practices are the pillars of society. One of the most important influences in my desire to help create a more sustainable world was completing my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Although my experiences with each section of the Award have all had extremely positive impacts upon me, it is undoubtedly the Adventurous Journey and Residential Project components that influenced me the most. Through the course of my experiences completing my Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, I was lucky enough to hike in the Warrandyte State Park, survey flora and fauna in the Grampians National Park, research the impact of the Black Saturday bushfires in the Yarra Ranges, do the Great Ocean Road walk, and complete a navigation course and forest hike in the Tallarook State Forest, as well as achieve my Level II First Aid Certificate.
Not only did each of these journeys increase my love and appreciation of nature, they also instilled within me a desire to protect our beautiful environment. In particular, I was strongly affected while visiting the bushfire-ravaged areas of the Yarra Ranges, and witnessing firsthand the devastating effects on the community and the environment. Hiking amongst burnt trees and plants and listening to the heartbreaking stories of locals truly inspired me to help to protect our environment.
I was also given the opportunity to participate in the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum, where I learned about the aerospace industry and became seriously interested in studying Engineering at university. The experiences of meeting like-minded people, having a glimpse into the life of university students and being inspired by how engineers have the ability to change my world greatly impacted me, and provided valuable insights into the opportunities available after school.
My journey towards fulfilling my dream to create a more sustainable world led me to study Environmental Engineering and Commerce at university, where I am currently in my second year. My decision to study this course was directly influenced by my experiences while completing my Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards. These opportunities deepened my interest in the environment, inspired me to pursue a career where I can ultimately benefit our world, and encouraged me to choose to study Environmental Engineering as the first step on the journey of the rest of my life.
In retrospect, completing my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was one of the most important steps towards helping me identify my passion, and provided me with valuable life skills that will definitely help me in the long run. I strongly recommend that all young people try to complete their Duke of Ed Award as well. Meeting new people, trying new things and pushing yourself to achieve your best will undoubtedly broaden your horizons and allow you to discover your own strengths, understand your weaknesses, and to know what motivates and inspires you the most. Furthermore, you will get the skills and experience you need to ignite change. I firmly believe that if you do what you love, when you have your own career, you will love what you do.
I have started out on my journey towards creating a more sustainable world, and will continue to strive towards my goal. This is why I believe that if you truly desire to achieve something in life, and work hard towards your goals, you really can be the change you wish to see in the world.
By Priya Agarwal