Growing up in the Perth hills surrounded by the natural Australian landscape and native animals inspired Curtin alumnus Simon Cherriman to devote his professional life to Australian conservation and sustainability.
After graduating from Curtin University with first class honours in environmental biology, Simon worked as a field zoologist for Bamford Consulting Ecologists, a flora and fauna conservation officer for the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and a tour guide for the Australian Wildlife Conservancy before establishing his own business, Insight Ornithology.
Insight Ornithology, which Simon operates independently, focuses on Western Australian environmental research and promotes environmental awareness and conservation through education, filmmaking, public talks and photography.
Simon says his time at Curtin helped shape his career path in environmental biology.
“The practical fieldwork and lab-work in my degree provided the best possible environment for absorbing new knowledge, “ he says.
“The most influential part of my degree was learning to write scientifically. This has been a skill I use constantly in my current work.
“Also, the organisational skills I acquired during study stayed with me for life and are highly important.”
Since starting his business, Simon’s career has taken a new direction. He now teaches adults and children the importance of wildlife conservation and has made two films about native Australian birds, with a third to be released late 2014.
Noted for his conservation efforts, Simon has won numerous awards for his work in environmental biology, including the 2008 West Australian Youth Award for the Environmental category and the 2010 Australian Geographic Young Conservationist of the Year.
Simon says starting his own business has given him the freedom to carve his own path in the conservation field.
“Establishing my own business has allowed me to contribute to my field in the best possible way, without the hold-ups often experienced with larger companies,” he says.
“There’s a gratification I get from both learning about and experiencing wildlife and wilderness. I get a buzz from teaching others, especially children, about things that are highly important, but that I am also passionate about.”
Simon’s next step is to showcase his latest project to the public – a one-hour documentary on monitoring wedged-tailed eagle movements using tracking devices. His documentary, titled, ‘Where do Eagles Dare?’ will premiere in late December.
In the future, Simon hopes to increase the reach of his environmental message using education and film.
“I’d like to make a documentary that is featured on TV and hopefully end up with a documentary series about Australian wildlife,” he says.