Mathilde Bernhard (France)
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South Metropolitan TAFE graduate Mathilde Bernhard may be an expert in flora and fauna, but she's no shrinking violet.
The passionate conservationist, who studied a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management, received South Metropolitan TAFE's International Student of the Year Award.
Mathilde left France five years ago to travel to Australia and New Zealand. A former professional illustrator in Paris, she made Western Australia her home after feeling a connection with the local wildlife and a desire to preserve it.
"WA's flora is of an amazing diversity and complexity," she said. "Unfortunately, it is threatened every day and I feel the need to do my share when it comes to protecting it."
Mathilde worked on a number of environmental projects during her studies at South Metropolitan TAFE, including the revegetation of Rottnest Island and activities for the Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre.
She has also helped organise a fundraiser for the protection, research and awareness of the endangered West Australian numbat.
Mathilde is now works for a native landscaping and landcare business where she is engaged with bushland care, such as erosion control, revegetation and invasive species control.
"The Australian wilderness is the first reason why I decided to stay in this beautiful country, and I feel that it is now my home," she said.