29 kilometres off the coast of Cairns, surrounded by the coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef and nestled amongst 339 hectares of national park, Somerville House Year 12 student Phoebe Dwyer set in motion her conservation skills.

In pursuit of the Gold Award for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program, Phoebe decided to volunteer a week of her time to work at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on the stunning Fitzroy Island. 

“When I first arrived on the Island, I was told I was the only volunteer at the turtle rehabilitation centre that week, which meant I was able to experience all of the jobs that are generally shared between fifteen volunteers”, Phoebe said.

“To be able to care for the sick, displaced and injured turtles; playing a part in their eventual return to the ocean, was a joy and honour”, she said.

“The Oceans 2 Earth program was an unforgettable experience”.

A not for profit organisation that works with animal welfare and wildlife habitat conservation volunteer programs, Oceans 2 Earth was the perfect choice for Phoebe as she continues her participation in the Duke of Edinburgh program promoted at Somerville House.

“The Duke of Edinburgh is a very personal program offering our students the ability to pursue their passions and ambitions in a way that suits them”, said Somerville House teacher, Mr David Haliczer.

“The Gold Award sees participants complete several activities, physical recreation and skills activities, as well as a three-night adventurous journey and four-night residential project, over a minimum of twelve months”, he said.

“I am very proud of Phoebe for her commitment and dedication to the Gold Award. What an incredible experience to work with the turtles on Fitzroy Island”.

Phoebe has now completed all elements of the Gold Award and awaits the Award office’s review and approval of her final submission.

Returning back to school after her week with the turtles, Phoebe is proudly sharing her photos and videos with her peers, and acknowledging how fortunate she has been to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh.

“The long-term benefits of the program, coupled with the once in a lifetime experiences, have given me the confidence to try new things, challenge my thoughts and continue to make a positive impact on the lives around me”.