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Robin, like his name-sake bird, is a bright and cheerful presence among us. A wonderful Chek Jawa guide who never fails to deliver a magical tour, Robin is also an essential element of the wildfilms team.
Here is more about Robin in his own words ...
How did you first get involved in working for nature in Singapore?
My fascination with the Great Outdoors was borne out of hiking and camping trips in North America's National Parks as a college student. It was through such interaction with Mother Nature that I could find peace within myself, as if infected by her boundless solitude and serenity.
It was also during these trips that I witnessed Park Rangers in action. I watched them educate the visitors and guide them through the parks while trying to minimize their impact on the environment; I watched them dedicate themselves to conservation work so that fragile ecosystems will not be destroyed. Eventually, something stirred within me and moved me to want to volunteer my time for nature too.
Back in Singapore, the opportunity presented itself when I read in the Nature Society's newsletter that Chek Jawa is in need of more volunteer guides. Volunteer guides work just like Park Rangers, educating and policing visitors to Chek Jawa. I jumped at the opportunity and have never looked back since ;-)
What do you get out of working for nature?
I have people asking me how to become a volunteer guide for Chek Jawa. I have people asking how they can contribute financially to preserving this stretch of intertidal. I get shrieks of excitement from kids seeing a sea star or carpet anemone for the first time. Things like this give me a deep sense of personal achievement because it shows that my visitors have connected emotionally with Chek Jawa, that CJ is not just another casual outing at the beach.
Perhaps no one has said it better than Aldo Leopold in A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC, a seminary work on nature conservation: "Perhaps the most serious obstacle impeding the evolution of a land ethic is the fact that our educational and economic system is headed away from, rather than toward, an intense consciousness of land." And guiding at CJ is all about helping visitors connect with Mother Nature and develop a healthy set of "ethics" towards her.
Sometimes though, we get out of working for nature more than we bargained for. Like last weekend when I accidentally stepped on a stonefish (it might have been a scorpionfish) out on Pulau Hantu. One of its stout, dorsal spines pierced through my left booty and dispensed a very painful dose of venom into my foot. The pain quickly spread to the rest of the leg and I had to be evacuated from the island. As I write this, I am still recovering from the pain and swelling in my left foot. Another pretty story to tell my visitors on Chek Jawa ;-) Ouch. [Ria's comment: here's more about the drama surrounding the Stonefish Incident....that frankly, probably scared me more than stout Robin :-)]
What is your approach/personal motto in your work?
For things I believe in, do my best and give my utmost. For things I feel less strongly about (including work that falls out of nowhere into your lap and catches you unaware at 5.30PM on a workday), do enough to get by. Just don't screw up. Seriously.
What are some of your current projects?
The Wildfilms project--helping out in the making of a documentary on our intertidal shores whenever my schedule allows. And related to, and in direct consequence of, the Wildfims project, are mini-projects like "how to battle stonefish envenomation" and "how to spend a week on MC without being bored to death". ;-)
What are some of your other interests?
My other great passion is photography, photography as a medium of artistic expression. Still pretty much an amateur, I shoot mainly landscapes and urban, though there are not many opportunities for the landscape photographer in Singapore. Opportunities are much more abundant back in the States. Perhaps I should go into nude, but so far I haven't found any willing subject yet. Anyone interested? I promise not to stare.
More on how YOU can make a difference too...
these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
website©ria tan 2004