ISV Australia Project Leader Spotlight – Alexandra Comino

by isvolunteers on Tuesday, 28 July 2015

alex-comino

ISV Project Leader Alexandra Comino, back in 2009 when was a participant on the ISV Program in Thailand. (c) Alexandra Comino

Meet Alexandra Comino, an ISV staff member who has a diverse history with the organisation – first as a participant in Thailand in 2009, then working in our Sydney office as a Student Care Coordinator, and now leading groups around Australia as Project Leader on our May to September Program! Learn more about Alex’s journey with ISV below…

How did you first hear about ISV? A recruiter came to my lecture at Sydney University during my first year – I almost missed the meeting! How different my life would have been…

What motivated you to sign up? Honestly I just really wanted to leave the country ASAP and it sounded right up my alley!

What were the best aspects of your ISV Program? I traveled to Thailand with ISV in 2009, and I learnt so much about conservation. It was also my first real experience with a culture very different to my own.  I changed my undergraduate degree to Conservation Biology the year after my ISV Program, so it was truly life-changing. And of course making life-long friends – I met some of my best friends on my projects all those years ago :) .

You began working for ISV in 2013 as a Student Coordinator. What motivated you to apply for a job in the office? I was working in an admin role for a different company, saw the ad and knew I wanted to work for ISV, just to be a part of the company and see where I went from there. I had just enrolled in my Master of Environmental Science and Ecotourism so it was perfect timing!

What did you enjoy most about working in the ISV office? The amazing staff!! – both in Sydney and in our international offices. Working with such a great team (albeit a smallish one in Sydney) was awesome. I got to wear a lot of different hats and enjoyed all the roles. It certainly kept me on my toes!

Free Day Mt Cordeaux

Alex with her Wild Mountains group on a free day at Mt Cordeaux. (c) Alexandra Comino

What projects have you been leading this year? Wild Mountains was my first. The Wild Mountains Education Centre in Queensland practice sustainable living and building while conserving local rainforest and dry sclerophyll bushland bordering World Heritage Border Ranges National Park. Tasks included managing invasive plant species, oiling buildings, planting trees, building retaining walls from recycled materials and repairing the centre’s buildings.

Walkabout Wildlife Park: This 180 acre park houses many native Australian animal species in predator-free preserved bush habitat. Education is one of the critical elements for sustainability and conservation, and Walkabout have visitors and ranger talks every day to raise awareness and appreciation of Australia’s biodiversity. Tasks included fire-breaking and mending the fox-proof perimeter fence, repairing storm damaged holding yards and trails, assisting rangers with their duties and revamping animal enclosures.

Free Day Mt French Sunset

Enjoying sunset wtih her Wild Mountains group at Mt French. (c) Alexandra Comino

What have been your highlights of Project Leading so far? Getting to meet such inspired and enthusiastic people – our volunteers and host organisation staff have been fantastic to work with. I’ve loved being out in the bush working, and also getting to share my knowledge with the student volunteers. It’s amazing to see them so interested in sustainable development and conservation when most have come over with little experience of these practices.

Can you reflect a bit on what it’s been like seeing so many different aspects of ISV, as a participant, office staff and now field staff? It’s been great! Working in the office gave me a huge insight to how all our host countries are managed, from our Academic Credit programs to working with new project partners and seeing long-term positive changes in our host organisations overseas. Being out in the field this year as a Project and Tour leader has been fantastic (Alex was professionally trained by ISV as a Tour Leader and will lead one tour in Australia as well this year). I now get to explore the hands-on side of things and get to know our volunteers – pretty awesome!

And it’s not just ISV who love Alex – see what her volunteers are saying about her below:

“I could not have asked for a better project leader for my first trips!” – Amelia Nill

“Alex was an outstanding leader. She made my experience a million times better than expected and also made it way more fun and enjoyable for all of us.” – Ally Passaneau

“Awesome leader and person. Worked with us and informed us tremendously on Australia and sustainability topics.” – Madison Weisbarth

To learn more about ISV, our amazing staff and our programs, please visit our website at www.isvolunteers.org

Sunset at Walkabout on Indigenous walk

Enjoying sunset at Walkabout Wildlife Park while taking part on a guided walk to learn about indigenous Australians from the area. (c) Alexandra Comino

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