Robert Montgomery

About Me!

My name is Rob, I’m 22 years old, Australian and I want to go everywhere; when I drive past an airport I can’t help but think that I should be on a plane going to some exotic location. When I went to Madagascar, I had just finished a Bachelor of International Studies and I was curious to find out for myself what is actually going on with conservation and international organisations.
I’m not sure what I want to do with my life, but I firmly believe that I can figure it out through adventure and travel. In Madagascar, I realised that the environment is even more important to me than I first thought, something easily forgotten after living in cities for so long.

My Experience

The best part of the Youth Volunteer Programme (YVP) is that 6 young people are thrown together from all different corners of the globe and they get to become friends in one of the most beautiful, surprising and challenging countries in the world.

Our project was largely focussed on forest conservation, which involved several key tasks including; educating local communities on the value of the forest, hands-on tree planting and discussions with charcoal farmers about how they can use the forest sustainably.

Coming from Australia I am used to warm weather, but the Spiny Forest region of South West Madagascar was relentlessly hot.
 / ©: WWF / Robert Montgomery
Me at the beach in St Augustine's Bay
© WWF / Robert Montgomery

Take a look at our video...

WWF Volunteers Katherine, Robert & Maia with SEESO project (Synergie, Energie, Environnement dans le sud-ouest Madagascar), Feb-May 2010

What did I learn?

Conservation involves working with and understanding people just as much as it involves working with and understanding the environment. Changing people’s attitudes is the real challenge of conservation; fortunately the Malagasy people are friendly, willing to listen and have limitless patience when it comes to volunteers speaking Malagasy.
In big cities and in the developed world it is easy to get swept up in your day-to-day life and forget about how our lives impact on the environment. In the villages of the Spiny Forest I quickly realised that livelihoods do depend on the environment. The most important lesson that I learnt was that the main problem of conservation exists because everywhere around the world people are so busy solving small problems in their daily lives that they don’t realise that they are causing bigger problems in the world around them.

And I learnt how to draw world maps in the sand.

My Advice...

If you are looking for a challenge, Madagascar and the YVP is probably the thing for you. The WWF is an extremely important and well-known organisation in Madagascar and as such, you will be taking on a great deal of responsibility as a volunteer with the WWF.

Don’t be afraid to apply!
  • If you have never studied in a field relevant to conservation (I hadn’t), don’t worry, you’ll learn quickly.
  • If you haven’t travelled much, Madagascar is a great place to start. The WWF looks after you well and you will soon discover that you are far stronger and more capable than you thought you were.
  • You will become fantastic friends with the other volunteers! You share a very important quality; you all took the chance to apply.
Madagascar is an extraordinarily diverse country, so expect that the project you are working on will be different from many of the volunteer teams’ that have gone before you, what you will share with them though is a small part of you that is still lost in Madagascar no matter where you are or what you are doing.

The Explore Programme is unique; there isn’t another opportunity like this, it will change you in ways that you won’t even realise.

My interview on Australian radio

Want to find out more?

Feel free to contact me!

And now?

Back in Australia, I'm studying a Master of Economics at the University of Sydney, looking for more adventures and trying to convince the other volunteers to come visit me.

After being surrounded by the natural beauty of Madagascar for 3 months I was reminded of how much I appreciate the outdoors, and have been taking every chance possible to enjoy getting out into nature here in Australia. When I look back through my photos of Madagascar it is hard to believe that I was there.
© WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery © WWF / Robert Montgomery

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