May 05, 2019

Local sustainability champions prepare for trip of a lifetime

Local sustainability champions
Alcoa’s Karen Racco, Mark Hodgson, Caitlin Bayliss who is one of eight Alcoa employees world-wide chosen for an Earthwatch expedition, and Anne Price.

Alcoa Pinjarra Refinery employees Caitlin Bayliss and Simon Bilsbury are among eight Alcoa employees selected worldwide to participate in the Earthwatch Fellowship – a unique professional development opportunity that puts a focus on climate change research and sustainability practices.

In September, Caitlin and Simon will join other Fellowship participants on this Alcoa Foundation funded adventure and head to the Valley of Ordino in Andorra. They will participate in the Earthwatch Institute’s ‘Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees’ expedition, where volunteers and scientists are measuring how climate change and human encroachment are impacting mountain ecosystems.

Caitlin, who works at Alcoa’s Pinjarra Refinery as a Health and Safety Consultant and lives in Mandurah, said that this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’ve always been a passionate ‘greenie’ and as nerdy as this sounds, I loved conducting environmental monitoring and research as part of my university degree at Curtin,” Caitlin said.

“During my travels I’ve noticed the impacts of climate change through glacier reduction or lifeless corals and sea beds. It’s heartbreaking to see something so beautiful deteriorate.

“What’s more concerning is the impact human activity has on the environment from waste production, burning of fossil fuels, mass land clearing, agriculture, housing development… the list goes on!

“I am excited to be going on this journey to Andorra to learn more about climate change, ecology of the area and more importantly what ‘we’ as individuals can do to minimise our impact on the environment,” she said.

Husband and father of two, Simon works at Pinjarra Refinery as an operator and lives in Warnbro. He is excited about learning about the impacts of climate change in a world where his sons will grow up.

“I expect to pick up some valuable information that could benefit a lot of people,” Simon said.

“When I get back, I’ll share my experiences with my work colleagues and want to implement something I’ve learned at Alcoa.”

During facilitated learning sessions, Caitlin and Simon will learn about the basics of climate change and how their action can significantly impact our environment. Each fellow will develop their own post-fielding project that will engage their peers and community members in sustainability initiatives. In addition, each fellow will lead a volunteering event that will benefit their local environment and present back to their community on their experience.

Alcoa’s Pinjarra Refinery Manager Mr Mark Hodgson said that he was incredibly proud of Caitlin and Simon, and that being chosen for the Fellowship was a mark of their passion for learning and dedication to the community.

“The Alcoa Foundation offers only eight Fellowship positions across our worldwide operations. This year, there were eighty applicants for those positions. To have two Pinjarra Refinery employees selected is beyond exciting. I’m so excited for Simon and Caitlin – this truly is a life-changing experience.”

Since 2003, 290 Alcoa employees from 24 countries have contributed more than 14,000 hours of research, which Earthwatch uses to inform sustainable solutions.

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Media contact:
Louisa Loder, Community Relations Officer, 9531 6240,