#SeastainableStories - Dwi Riyan, Pongo Ranger Community

#SeastainableStories is a series by Seastainable to feature amazing ocean conservationists and advocates we believe in. Everyone can, and has play a part in contributing to healthier and happier oceans.
This week, we are featuring the founder of Seastainable’s grantee who recieved our Seastainable grant for two youth camps.  Dwi Riyan, the founder of Pongo Ranger Community (PRC), is a youth leader from West Kalimantan, Ketapang, Indonesia who leads their organization in promoting youth empowerment and environmental education. During the 1st quarter of this year, we supported PRC’s academic program on emerging community leaders through environmental education. A total of $1,481.78 SGD was granted for two programs which both aim to campaign for sustainable education, natural preservation by the local people, and to mainstream the local organizations of the youth in Ketapang.
Want to know more about this inspiring leader in conservation? Scroll down and learn more about Dwi and his journey in this field!
What sparked your interest in conservation?
My interest in conservation started when I had my internship at the Australian Conservation Council back in 2014. I had an opportunity to join their activity to preserve their environment in Margaret River, Australia. It was not only an experience but also a trigger of my awareness to see how passionate they are in their age (most of them were seniors) to think of their environment for the next generation.
What do you think is important in pursuing conservation?
People. For me, conservation should be started by thinking about the people around the area we would like to conserve. They are the key pillars for ensuring sustainable conservation efforts. Education is plays a fundamental part. How can we ask people to conserve their environment if they do not know what should they conserve, why, and what is the relationship with their lives? Beyond education, economy, conservation and community development are key isssues that needs to be engaged with the local community If people's prosperity is guaranteed, it is easier to work with them. Yes, it's a long journey, but education should be on the top priority of conservation effort.
What/Who inspired you to start your organization?
Working in orangutan rehabilitation was my first inspiration. To be honest, I did not expect to start my career in an NGO. However, I met someone from International Animal Rescue Indonesia, and I decided to start my career as their education staff in 2015. That experience allowed me to dive deep into understanding the importance of conservation activities. Through my journey, I realized that many individuals did not have any information or understanding why should they preserve the forest, and why should they not do illegal activities that harm the environment. They don't know about that, especially the matured ones. By that experience, I know that young generation is the HOPE. We can still educate, share and train them to be a new generation that will protect their environment. Thus 2017, I decided to gather all of the youth I know in Ketapang, to make a community that focuses the empowerment of the youth and provides environmental education to their fellows and other local kids in Ketapang. Yes, I am proud to say we started our ground-up initiative and recieved our legal status in 2018.
What/Who inspired you to start your project?
This project is basically our sequel effort for Pongo Academy. The movement of the younger generation in the world such as what Gretta Thunderberg did is an inspiration for us. It made the other reason for us to encourage young generation to do something to send their voice out loud to the world. Literacy, is also the problem in our area, as they sometimes do not read the whole story and do not know which of them is a hoax or not. The advancement of technology has allowed us to keep abreast of up to date information and ensure that our facts are accurate.  However, it is also the source of fake news. Thus, we strongly believed in the importance of starting a workshop focused on improving environmental literacy for our like-minded peers.
Give us a fun fact about yourself!
Song lover. I can sing everywhere even when I'm driving a bike. And I am freaking in love with red-maroon color (really want to have all of my stuff in maroon)!
What is your advice to people who want to pursue a career in conservation, but may not have the ‘conservation’ e.g. science/research related background?
I have chemistry education background, which I thought no way for me to do something or even work for conservation. But the truth is, conservation - especially environmental education is an integrative thing. It is something that any individual can embrace in their daily lives. As long as you have your passion, you go on with that and put out your best.
A piece of advice you would like to give to our readers about the future of our planet?
Our planet is dying. We are the last generation that needs to take action. Do not wait for others to do it for you, but do something for you and the others for this beautiful planet. Believe it, WE ARE THE HOPE.
What are the next steps that you want to take to save our ocean?
Change our lifestyle habits. We promote this to our community in Pongo Ranger. First, we would like to launch the Eco-school of Pongo Ranger next year. It is as the continuation of our project with the government and local school to make an environmental education as not only a single action by Pongo Ranger, but as collaborative action.
Like to read about our other inspiring youth? Check it out below!


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