89. Libby Fisher

22 Nov

Libby Fisher is a force to be reckoned with.

Since 2016, the now 15 year-old has raised over $50,000 for wildlife conservation, under the umbrella of her initiative Libby’s Koala & Wildlife Crusade.

Despite being an animal lover from a young age, it was a trip to Queensland with her family that truly opened her eyes to the plight of the wildlife industry, and in particular koalas.

“In 2015, my family and I took a trip to Queensland and went to Australia Zoo and that’s where I got to see and touch my first koala, and where I fell in love with them. A year later, Mum and I watched a segment on The Living Room where they said koalas were listed as a vulnerable species in Queensland and NSW, and I decided I wanted to do something rather than just sitting and waiting for someone else to do something,” she said.

The Diamond Creek local, who is in year nine at Montmorency Secondary College, and her mum began selling small items at local markets to not only raise money but also awareness.

“I started a Facebook page and I got a lot of people involved in the community in that, and I got reached out to by my primary school who wanted me to come and talk to the grade 2s about what I do as they were doing a topic on Australian animals, and that’s where I thought that that’s something else I could do,” she said.

She’s now got a fair few school and group presentations under her belt and says the main message she spreads to young people is that age isn’t a barrier when it comes to making a difference in the world.

“There are always little things you can do. I tell kids to pick an animal and to learn as much about it as possible, and then tell their friends and families all about it,” she said.

She said the Facebook page was what attracted the most attention and awareness.

“Once we got the Facebook page up and running, we had a lot of people from everywhere joining, who wanted to do their bit to help. So then we started taking online donations and I would do things like buy groceries for wildlife, where people would message me saying ‘I’m going to put $10 in your bank account to buy tissues to give to wildlife volunteers to use on koalas’ and I’d go out and buy that,” she said.

When she reflects on the amount of money so far raised, she is amazed.

“Every time people donate and it goes up, I just feel so shocked, I didn’t think it would grow this much,” she said.

In addition to buying small, useful items, Libby donates the money straight to wildlife shelters all around Australia. Recently, after the devastating bushfires that killed an extraordinary amount of Australian wildlife, money went directly to shelters caring for those injured animals.

But Libby said raising awareness was almost more important than raising funds.

“One example is at a Clean Up Australia Day event one year I found out that there were platypus in the Diamond Creek river, and if you snip off the rings around juice container lids, you could save their lives, so I educated a lot of people about that,” she said.

When asked what motivates her to put in so much work after school, on weekends and school holidays, Libby said it was her empathy towards the special creatures.

“When I learned about what was happening I just felt so bad and I thought if I didn’t know that information, I wonder how many others don’t know too. So I wanted to educate people to say ‘look at what they’re going through, and if we don’t start helping now, it’s not going to get any better’,” she said.

Libby also volunteers at wildlife centres and she says the other volunteers there are an inspiration to her.

“When I go and volunteer and I hear stories from other volunteers about their experiences, that inspires and motivates me to want to help them,” she said.

Libby said one of the highlights of her wildlife journey so far was meeting her hero, international wildlife warrior Jane Goodall last year.

“I started working with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Australia and they said to me she was coming out for a weekend in May last year, and on a tree planting day I met her. Then they asked if I wanted to make an exhibition showcasing what I do and I got to have a one on one conversation with her; that was an amazing experience. She’s very passionate about educating people and getting people involved, so I gave her an overview of all my work and what I do for my community. I just think she’s amazing, she’s such an inspirational person given everything she’s accomplished,” she said.

When asked what her future looked like, Libby said she wasn’t 100% sure but said she knew she wanted to keep helping Australian wildlife.

“Every year I do something new, there are new ideas and plans, and I’m hoping that it continues to grow and get bigger and better. I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I know I do want to stick with wildlife in any way, whether it’s in education, or something like that, I’m not entirely sure,” she said.

In late 2020, Libby was awarded the “Young Legends Award” as part of Keep Victoria Beautiful’s Sustainable Cities Award. Libby doesn’t volunteer for the awards but hopes that through her success, others are inspired to act, no matter their age.

She said no matter what, there’s one message she won’t stop spreading: “No voice is too little, no hands are too small, to help save our wildlife.”

You can find out more about Libby’s work here.

Words: Joely Mitchell

Picture: Meg De Young

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