CMU-A Students Pitch in to Help Bushfire Affected Australian Wildlife

Posted 6th February 2020

Brittany Pruitt, studying the 21-month Global Master of Science in Public Policy and Management, has made a valuable contribution to supporting relief efforts after the recent bushfire. She is part of a group of students studying at Carnegie Mellon University’s Australia campus for their first year and then going on to complete her degree at the Pittsburgh campus.

Brittany chose CMU-Australia because it gave her the opportunity to gain valuable international experience while still receiving a US-degree.

Brittany hopes to use her Master's degree to have an international career working for not-for-profit organisations or businesses that have a social impact.

When Brittany Pruitt started hearing about the Australian bushfires, she immediately wondered what she, and other CMU-Australia students could do to help. Her background and interest in global health and environmental health led her to contact the international organization Conservation Volunteers which has an office in Adelaide, South Australia.

Conservation Volunteers South Australia offered opportunities for volunteers to support the wildlife affected by the bushfires.

So last month Brittany and fellow student Rachel Bukowitz, joined 80 other volunteers for a one-day working-bee to build nesting boxes for species such as birds, possums and owls whose habit was destroyed in the bushfire in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island.

“The bushfires destroyed large tracks of native bushland with about 215,000 hectares burned on Kangaroo Island and 25,000 hectares in the Adelaide Hills. This has had an enormous impact on the native habitat.

One important part of the recovery process for wildlife is providing them with safe nesting places says Brittany.

Brittany and Rachel were assigned the job of painting the nesting boxes which protects them and blends into the natural environment.

Hand-made nesting boxes ready to be donated and help the Australian wildlife.

“It was amazing to see how, in the face of adversity, the community just ‘shows up’, gets on with the rebuilding task and really supported each other.

It was an awesome experience. People were really friendly, really thankful and happy to see people from other countries taking an interest in, and wanting to contribute to, the bushfire recovery.

Volunteering is great, it gives you a real sense of achievement knowing you’re helping to make a difference. It’s a really good feeling!”

Asked, would you recommend volunteering to your fellow students?

Absolutely! That’s why I want to get people on campus involved in volunteering because I want everyone to experience that ‘feel-good’ feeling while they live here in Adelaide.

Brittany encourages students to take up volunteering because it’s important to be a part of the community where they live and study.

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