Young Environmentalist of the Year, Ellen Sandell

Ellen Sandell, Young Environmentalist of the Year Award for 2009

Ellen Sandell, Young Environmentalist of the Year 2009

Ellen Sandell, who jointly won the Environment Minister’s Young Environmentalist of the Year Award for 2009, first started acting on environmental issues while studying Spanish and Linguistics with the School of Languages and Linguistics. She is now Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition in Victoria.

Although her major in language is not directly related to her work now, she is thankful for herArts education in helping her to build communication skills that are vital to influencing others, liaising with the media and collaborating on projects.

“Sometimes when I write project reports it feels like I am doing a university assignment. I have friends who studied specialised areas in other degrees and they feel they haven’t been prepared for their first jobs out of university which require skills in areas like research and communication,” she said.

Her action for the environment started with small local campaigns and after some success, and becoming Environmental Officer of the Student Union, she decided to address what she saw as the route cause of the problem – the lack of mass of young voices putting pressure on the Australian Government to act.

“I often get asked to talk about leadership and I always come back to my first lesson – just do it. If you’re the first one out there actively doing something to solve a problem then you’ll naturally fall into a leadership role,” she said.

She sometimes revisits the University, where the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has a strong support base.

“Universities are active in regards to political discussion and action being taken on a wide range of issues. It would be sad to see this decline,” she said.

Ellen was in Copenhagen for the Climate Change summit and met Climate Change Minister Penny Wong. She also spent some time in Spain revitalising her passion for Spanish.

Ellen completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science with a major in Genetics.

She won the Environment Minister’s award jointly with her colleagues Amanda McKenzie, also a graduate of Arts at Melbourne, and Anna Rose, who resides in Sydney.

To learn more about the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, visit