Alumni Spotlights

Amanda Robbins, ’12, M.S.Ed.’14: Adventures in Africa

  • on October 23, 2014
  • by Lisa M.Mcmahon, MA'09

Lions and tigers and sharks, oh my?

They’re just a few of the animals Amanda Robbins, ’12, M.S.Ed.’14, has encountered since her graduation from Niagara University.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in life sciences, the Batavia, N.Y., native set off for South Africa on an internship with Oceans Research. Here, she drew upon the marine research techniques she learned in her Niagara lab work and in shadowing opportunities with the Aquarium of Niagara to collect data on great white sharks. Each morning and evening, Amanda would accompany marine biologists to track the number of sharks that came in and out of Mossel Bay, a harbor town on the southern cape of South Africa, information used to advise the government and various industries on issues such as marine conservation.

“It was really a life-changing experience,” she says.

Amanda returned to Monteagle Ridge to complete her master’s degree in education, and then was off to Africa again, this time as a volunteer field specialist in environmental journalism and travel writing for Africa Media, a sister organization to Oceans Research. This role enabled her to pursue her interests in education, Africa, and animal conservation. For several months, Amanda taught college students from around the world how to research, write, edit, and pitch stories, many of which were published in some of South Africa’s most prominent travel and environmental publications. She accompanied her students to the Blombos Cave in Blomosfontein Nature Reserve, where ongoing research on the behavioral evolution of early humans is being conducted, and to several different animal sanctuaries, one of which was home to the first cheetah known to have been diagnosed and treated for diabetes.

Although that internship ended in July, Amanda’s work with animals and conservation continues at the Buffalo Zoo, where she is a volunteer in the Education Department. Next summer, she hopes to broaden her globetrotting experience with a Peace Corps assignment as an English teacher in Colombia.

“It’s something I’ve never really done,” she says. “I’ve always taught science or taught in the field, so this is more of a life skill, and I’m excited to see how I fare with that.”