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  wild people: Jani

Jani's shy and quiet demeanour belies her passion for our marine heritage. I first met her as a Chek Jawa guide but our paths kept crossing.

Jani is among the few young scientists who has come forward to play a leading role in training and organising volunteer efforts to raise awareness of our seas.

Her appetite for life, our seas (and for food) amazes me constantly :-) Fearless in expressing her thoughts and dedicated towards making a difference, Jani has become a key element in current efforts on the Southern Shores. She is indeed an inspiration to the young and not-so-young.

More comfortable underwater, taking photos and doing her work, it took a lot of persuasion for me to get Jani participate in the blog. I'm glad Jani is sharing her thoughts as her story shows how one person can make a difference.

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

How did you first get involved in working for nature in Singapore?
I was a biology student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and have always liked ecology and biodiversity but never really realised the rich nature we have in Singapore.

Then, in the second year of my studies, there was a chance for me to participate in a marine conservation project to Sabah. The project consisted of doing reef surveys in Sabah with bulk of the training prior to the real trip done in Singapore waters. I had initially decided to rally off for a two-month backpacking trip elsewhere, but for some reason changed my mind and go for the conservation project. Lucky enough I did, as it was after that, that I realised my love for the seas as well Singapore's marine life.

I decided that I wanted to be more active in protecting what I love and repaying nature for all the times its brought be joy. At the same time, that was when I decided to take up an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Project in Science (UROPS) under the Marine Biology Lab in NUS on dugongs (we do still have dugongs in Singapore!) and manatees. I started volunteering with the lab and slowly got more involved in working for nature in Singapore. I have not looked back since and would continue to do so for as long as I can.

What do you get out of working for nature?
Self-satisfaction and a chance to see the nature that I love flourish. It is also a joy to see others realise that there is more that Singapore as an island nation can offer. And that we don't actually have to travel overseas to enjoy what we have in our own backyard.

Charles Darwin said that our affinity for nature is innate, and this is definitely true for me as I feel happy just being around nature. Of course not forgetting the FUN element of working for nature... the trudging in mud, wading in water and diving to discover new things in Singapore waters. Definitely would not trade that for anything! Oh, the thrill!

What is your approach/personal motto in your work?
You love what you do and you do what you love. It's never too late to start and never over even if the fat lady sings.

What are some of your current projects?
I am currently the coordinator for Reef Friends, a project under Blue Water Volunteers (BWV), aiming to survey the coral reefs around Singapore. I will also be involved in coordinating International Coastal Cleanup Survey (ICCS) at Chek Jawa and the training for Reef Walk (BWV) later this year. Also suppose to start planning for training future reef survey trainers but this has been put on hold.

If you are Reef Check trained and wish to assist in our reef surveys around Singapore, please email me at janithuaibah@yahoo.com.
For more information about Reef Friends and Blue Water Volunteers, please visit the Coral Reefs of Singapore website.

Jani is 23 and is currently a marine biologist with the National University of Singapore (NUS). Her many volunteer commitments include: Blue Water Volunteer Reef Friends coordinator, Chek Jawa guide, ICCS coordinator for Chek Jawa 2003, participant in Beyond Land's End (BLE) marine conservation project 2002, leader for BLE 2003, scientific officer for BLE 2004, reef survey trainer. She has since started The Blue Tempeh blog which features photos and stories of her marvellous dives on our very own reefs.
More on how YOU can make a difference too...

Posted by grayowl Posted on 12/08/04 15:41 Wow! We have hope in Singapore. (^^) Ria, I am amazed at the number of wonderful people you throw up in this Blog. Let's have a who's who gallery ... about the people passionate about nature, of course. Couldn't wait to see what you will throw up tomorrow. (^^)

Posted by Ria Posted on 12/08/04 16:13
I too am amazed. Finally seeing them all together and reading their stories. It really makes me realise and appreciate the wonderful community of nature people that we are so lucky to be a part of.

Posted by bluebabe Posted on 12/08/04 16:30
such a long way from 'i want to do a diving project...' now you're 'wonderful'! i wonder who else we can 'gently persuade' to join the volunteer movement, hehehe... But in all seriousness, all these great activities and projects wouldn't make it without the dedication and effort of the people involved. Hats off!

Posted by bluebabe Posted on 12/08/04 17:22
SHY and QUIET???? hope we are talking about the same person here... :P

Posted by Ria Posted on 12/08/04 17:57
I guess I don't know her all that well then :-)

Posted by otterman Posted on 12/08/04 20:37
Jani surprised me by working on the Chek Jawa mangrove cleanup and then hanging around for a guiding session. Clearly passionate about marine life, she also has great hopes and concern for the volunteers she meets in the course of her projects. Now, Ria, why can't I retire?

Posted by voyager Posted on 12/08/04 22:50
Because otterman, YOU DA MAN! HAHAHA... But seriously, even if we let otterman retire, I doubt that he will permanently leave. The itch will get him back in no time....

Posted by Ria Posted on 13/08/04 08:36
I think voyager explained it best :-)

Posted by greenEd Posted on 15/08/04 17:36
I am continuously inspired by all these young people you have featured. There is yet hope for Spore...

Posted by Ria Posted on 15/08/04 17:38
Me too! As the years wear down (literally) on me, I realise the importance of the Next Generation (a cliched and old-fashioned term I know, see getting old). There are many many young folks, all seriously passionate and already doing so much. It's wonderful!

these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
website©ria tan 2004