IN THE coming weeks, Amelia Telford of Trinity Catholic College has to get top marks in her HSC exams, so she can study medicine at Uni. She also has to raise $25,000 so she can go on an international Antarctic expedition next February.
No pressure, then.
But the 18-year-old school captain is not only taking it all in her stride, she's bubbling over with energy and enthusiasm.
Amelia is among 30 young environmentalists from around the world selected for the Antarctic adventure by the Antarctic Youth Ambassador Program (AYAP). They will join another 60 international expeditioners, under the leadership of Robert Swan, OBE, the first person ever to walk to both the North and the South poles.
She was chosen on the basis of her passionate commitment to sustainability, her school academic and leadership record, and the unique perspective she would bring to the team.
"In my application, I made a commitment to visiting Northern Rivers' schools when I return, and helping them work out strategies for sustainability," Amelia told The Echo.
Amelia is a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Northern Rivers Young Greens, as well as being on Trinity Catholic College's Environmental Justice Team, which in the past year set up a massive planting of 700 trees on the riverbank next to the school's sports fields.
"The incredible opportunity to explore the wilderness of Antarctica will help me grow as an environmental activist," Amelia said.
"As an indigenous female, I feel that the urgency of climate change in all of its forms just cannot be ignored."
The mission for the AYAP is to inspire the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, be sustainable, and spread the word that now is the time for action in policy development. "There'll be a heavy focus on climate change, the things we may see and what they mean," Amelia said.
"So we might see animals out of season, or melting ice - I think it might be hard at times, seeing that happening.
"The expedition is called 2041, because that's the year when the international Antarctic Treaty, which has been protecting the continent from big companies coming in and mining and drilling, will be reviewed.
"We have to try and keep it as pristine as it is.
"I think this expedition is about building an alumni of climate change warriors."
To raise funds for the expedition, Amelia plans a dinner and movie night at Bangalow; a Lismore brunch in a park with a few bands; raffles, and she'll be canvassing local businesses and individuals for their support.
Anyone who'd like to help can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org