What Inspires Me – Interview with Jack Nyhof

April 2016

Earlier this year CERES Outreach Educator Nick Rickard was asked to judge entries for the inaugral VLGA Climate Awards, and in February 2016 attended the awards ceremony. The awards was organised by the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) in partnership with Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). On the night, Jack Nyhof was co-awarded the CLIMATE award in the high school category, alongside Ruby Wynn Williams from Melbourne Girls College. Click here to read more about the VLGA CLIMATE Awards and the finalists.

This month we find out what inspires Jack and what else he’s working on apart from being a Year 10 student at Geelong High School.

1. How did you first become interested in environmental issues?

It has always been a passion of mine. I remember when I was little looking out the car window and admiring the natural landscape. The love and appreciation only grew and to this day has stayed with me.
I have also always had a drive to do something and/or create change. I knew I wanted to do something big.

In primary school and from everyday people around me, I learned of the impacts humanity and industry was having on our fragile planet. I knew it was wrong, and change needed to happen.
As the interest grew, the more I learned. Around this time I was too young to volunteer, as you had to be 16 for insurance reasons. This made me feel somewhat too young to create any type of change.
I remember doing a project in Year 7, it was called M.A.D or ‘Making a Difference’. We learned about people our age and even younger who were making a difference. This showed me that I could make a difference. I was still too young to volunteer at this stage and felt like there wasn’t much I could do.

Environmental protection and animal welfare and protection were big issues for me. The environment was always something I found beauty in, even in the simple everyday things. Being too young to be involved in volunteering, the idea for my organisation Earth People Animals blossomed. It wouldn’t be until now that it is close to launching.

Geelong’s Community Radio Station 94.7 The Pulse FM is what really catapulted me out there. I was at the Air show when the local commercial radio was broadcasting live. After getting enough courage to have a chat to one of the presenters, she suggested volunteering at The Pulse. Never saying no to an opportunity, I did. Being interested in the environment, I was directed to ‘The Sustainable Hour’, a great show about sustainability. This got me into Geelong’s Sustainable Community. At this time, our school also started a Green Team.

Inspired by my passion, the guys at the sustainable hour asked me to speak at ‘The Act on Climate Festival’ keynote address. Things really started to pick up pace and snowball from there.

2. What have been the biggest highlights of your journey so far?

Every opportunity I get is an honour. Every opportunity a highlight; getting the opportunity to be on radio and later on getting my own show, guest speaking at the ‘Act on Climate Festival’, becoming Cool Australia’s ‘Top Student Leader’ after organising an ‘Enviro Week’ event at our school where we ran workshops for Year 8 students with the help of AYCC and starting a local school summit. These are all big ones, but one of the biggest highlights is co-winning the VLGA Climate Award. Guest speaking at primary schools is also great fun and so motivating and energising. If I think back, something that stands out is going on the training weekend with AYCC. It really helped me meet so many amazing like-minded people, and I learned heaps. That was less than a year ago now.

3. What has been the biggest obstacle? How did you / are you overcoming it?

There haven’t really been many huge obstacles. I have been so lucky with opportunities and supportive people. It’s important to take a step back and remember any amount of change, even the smallest, counts and makes an impact. It’s also really import to have a supportive network, sometimes you can feel the problem is too big or no one is listening to you. At the start my age was a boundary but it soon passed as I got out there and met people. Time management is something that stands out; to do all the stuff I do, it’s a big juggling act. Organisation is important and with school it can be hard at times. Sometimes it can get too much but you need to step back and get back up. I probably do more than I should, but I enjoy it and seeing the impact pays off in the long term.

4. What future plans or goals are you excited about?

I’m really excited about launching my organisation Earth People Animals. It’s been a process lasting a couple of years to get it off the ground. We are only months away. Earth People Animals is a non-profit working to independently support (through fundraising and awareness) other local organisations and programs and educate people and students about issues with the help of other organisations. I’ve spoken to a couple of primary schools and it’s always fun. It’s also engaging for the students being so young.

5. What advice would you offer to other students who are interested in environmental issues and who might want to inspire others at their school?

Find like-minded people and get others excited. Make sure you start these important conversations and mention the important issues you’re passionate about. It can be contagious. Make sure you speak to teachers and know your stuff. Some schools aren’t as supportive but these days there’s so many programs and groups to get involved in. So many people are realising how important sustainability really is.
If you can’t find others, do it yourself. No matter how small or big your action is, it all makes an impact and is important. Remember to keep that passion alive!

Thank you Jack for sharing your story.

CERES Education loves featuring students to inspire the younger generation. If you know a student making a difference, we’d like to hear from you. Email us at outreach@ceres.org.au

By CERES Education – Outreach Team|2017-11-06T18:33:31+10:00March 30th, 2016|0 Comments