Bridget O'Hara

Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
Home Institution: 
Temple University
Heinz Programming Area: 
Study Abroad Country: 
Australia and New Zealand
International Experience

Bridget spent two months in the rainforests of Australia, where she studied rainforest management techniques and field research methods. Through cabin living at the Centre for Rainforest Studies in the midst of the Gillies Mountains, Bridget was able to immerse herself in the environment that she studied. She spent time recording the growth of trees subject to different restoration processes, as well as spotlighting for wild possums and tree kangaroos at night. She visited the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world at 180 million years old (the Amazon Rainforest is 55 million years old), and spotted three cassowaries, a dangerous and endangered bird only found in Australia. Bridget was also lucky to take a ten-day trip to New Zealand, where she was welcomed into the homes of various Maori families. Along with learning about the environmental resource management techniques that the Maori have been practicing for hundreds of years, she learned about the Maori’s perspective on their relationship with Earth: to them, humans are considered gatekeepers for the planet, meant to take care of the Earth during their time here. Upon her return to Australia, she met Aboriginals Australia as well, and compared both the resource management techniques and governmental involvement in Indigenous rights in Australia versus New Zealand. Bridget volunteered with local tree-planting and restoration non-profits in both Australia and New Zealand. She also visited and snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef, which inspired her to create a research proposal exploring whether the impacts of ecotourism on the reef are more positive, promoting environmental education and awareness, or more negative, causing reef destruction and coral disease. Bridget learned not only from the many amazing Australians and New Zealanders that she met, but from the 18 other students from all over America living at the field station with her, who all interpreted their experiences in different ways. Bridget is excited to bring her new knowledge of resource management techniques and Indigenous environmental mindsets back to America and begin volunteering and implementing change in her own community.


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