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  wild people: Amy

Amy has long been involved in scientific work in support of nature in Singapore. Although she certainly is in the enviable position of getting paid for doing what she loves, she doesn't stop there.

An long-time and enthusiastic volunteer, Amy is gentle and patient, especially with clueless newbies (like me when I first met her), She continues to make time to share her passion with others by guiding and training guides.

Amy works closely with Siva and here's what Siva has to say about her...
I grew up as a naturalist only when I entered NUS in the late 80's. There I was lucky to have classmates like Amy (or Mei Fun as I call her), instinctive biologists who examined ecosystems and organisms in considerable detail and appreciation. This created an ideal environment for me to learn about nature, and I am very thankful for that time.

We share muddy memories from days supporting Prof Murphy on mangrove surveys. One of the rare competent photographers at the time, she got to fly in a helicopter on a photographic survey of the mangroves! I used one of her photos of Kampung Mandai Besar in the mangrove guidebook 10 years later.

Those formative years were also spent writing articles, publishing a magazine called The Mudskipper, organising and conducting field trips as part of the student society in NUS called the Biological Sciences Society (BSS). We didn't realise it then, but it helped us develop the skills and camaraderie that we applied to other projects later.

When we graduated, we felt the need and joy of communicating nature to the public. Amy was one of the most confident and enthusiastic and we organised ourselves through The Habitat Group. One group from the Social Development Section will long remember their sneak preview of Sungei Buloh Nature Park just before a furious thunderstorm! During the first Nature Day in 1997, she rescued an elderly Mandarin-speaking group although she confessed the technical terms were a real struggle! The group was grateful.

It has been more than a decade and she's still helping out. A knowledgeable, objective, dependable and cheerful guide/trainer, I can count on her to patiently look after the slow or injured ones on some of the tougher events. When she's on board, I am strengthened considerably by her support, outlook and contribution. These are some of the things money can never buy!

Here is more about Amy in her own words ...

How did you first get involved in working for nature in Singapore?
I've always loved nature. As an undergrad, couldn't quite decide whether I like plants or animals more. I guess working for nature started after graduation, not that I really considered it to be work. Got a job at Sungei Buloh Nature Park as the first generation scietific officer. We were trying to conserve Sungei Buloh and figure out what were there, both plants, animals not only birds. After that, I went to HKU to study for my Ph.D. During vacation, I'll return to help Siva with nature walks. I'm one of Siva's friends, who started all those nature walks of Nature Society under the habitat group. Well, it's been years doing guiding off and on.

What do you get out of working for nature?
It's a great way to de-stress. In a group, more pairs of eyes can look out for more interesting flora and fauna. Nature is beautiful. What you don't see doesn't mean they are not there and are not beautiful. You cannot imagine how beautiful marine bacteria can be or how abundant they are in one drop of seawater!

What is your approach/personal motto in your work?
What we do for nature is nothing compared to what nature does for us. Habitat conservation rather than single or few species conservation.

What are some of your current projects?
Currently part of the biofouling group in Tropical marine Science Institute. The institute is multi-disciplinary and conduct a wide range of work related to the marine environment. www.tmsi.nus.edu.sg. Our group is looking for an effective and environmentally friendly replacement for TBT which was an effective anti-foulant but toxic to marine organisms. We have some headways but further testings required.

We are currently not looking for people to join in our work but we're looking for funds to continue with our research. Once we've secured funding then we can expand our forces.

Amy is in her mid-30s and and she is currently part of the biofouling group in Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) of the National University of Singapore (NUS). She volunteers off and on as a guide to nature spots.
More on how YOU can make a difference too...

these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
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