One of Gef’s 30 Under 30 Sustainability award winners feels the island is in a unique position for environmentalism.
The online news platform’s competition focused on recognising the next generation of the island’s leaders. This particular award showcased people taking care of the planet, who are optimistic about the Isle of Man’s future as long as small, positive changes are made.
Rachael Harrop is a communications officer at Manx Wildlife Trust and a shepherdess.
She says that as the only UNESCO Biosphere nation in the world, the Isle of Man is ‘very fortunate’ to have such a vast range of habitats in a relatively small space.
The 27-year-old continued: ‘I think the Isle of Man is in a unique position.
‘We have marine, coastal, upland, lowland, wetland, sand dunes, the list goes on, so to work for an environmental organisation that engages with all these different habitats is an incredible opportunity for learning and finding your interest.
‘It also means no two work days are the same!’
She added: ‘I think the Isle of Man is such a fantastic place and I feel so lucky to be able to live here.’
Asked why she thinks it’s important for young people to be involved in saving the environment, particularly in the island, Rachael said: ‘I think it’s important for young people to take ownership and input back into this fantastic place that we call home.
‘We are so fortunate to have access to incredible outdoor spaces, pretty much on our doorstep, and we all need to do what we can to protect it if we want to insure it’s here for future generations.’
In terms of entering a career in wildlife and the environment, Rachael explained that she has always been involved in the community in the west of the island.
‘[I was] involved with the Eco Club at QEII High School and a project to create a community space at Patrick Church,’ she said. ‘After finishing school I worked on a dairy and sheep farm for a year which sparked a keen interest in the link between agriculture and the wider environment – I then decided to do a degree in environmental science.
‘Not wanting to leave the island, I completed my degree through the Open University.
‘After finishing my degree I started working for Manx Wildlife Trust as their communications officer.
‘During my time studying and beyond, I shepherded a small flock of Teeswater sheep for their wool and also as conservation grazers at the Patrick community orchard and allotments.’
On her role, Rachel said: ‘Working for Manx Wildlife Trust there is such a wealth of knowledge that I learn something new every day.
‘I work with some fantastic people who are working on projects with timescales that are far beyond the scale of our lifetime, but they are pursued with such a passion, so it’s very inspiring.’
Rachael felt ‘honoured’ to have won the award and, asked why she thought she had, she said it was due to all of the smaller projects she’s had a hand in.
‘This is such a vast category and I feel very honoured to have been put forward for it,’ Rachael said. ‘I would say there isn’t one big project that I’ve been involved in but lots of smaller ones, which all add up.
‘I’ve championed ethical, sustainable workwear for MWT staff and volunteers and launched a MWT range of clothing with TeeMill.
‘I have a flock of sheep which graze community spaces and have trialled agri-forestry projects for MWT.
‘I also try to live as sustainability as I can in my everyday life. My partner and I have recently renovated a Manx cottage and have tried to use as much sustainable technology as we could, such as an air-source heat pump.’
Her plans for the future encompass continuing to enjoy living island life, educating people on all the ‘fabulous’ habitats, plants and animals here, and to finish renovating her sustainable cottage.