SINGAPORE - When she was just 17, Ms Kelsie Tan Kai Xian wrote a book that was put in national libraries islandwide and distributed as educational materials in schools.
The book, titled A Tale Of Two Cats, aimed at correcting the misconceptions people have about civet cats.
It was a project that was undertaken by Ms Tan, now 18, and two friends during their time in Raffles Institution and was fuelled by her passion to correct the misconceptions surrounding wildlife in Singapore.
On June 2 (Friday), the part time junior keeper at the Singapore Zoo was one of seven winners of the 2017 HSBC/National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Youth Environmental Award. There were three winners, while the remaining four were given merit awards.
The three winners will be joining a seven-day research expedition to Costa Rica to investigate how threats to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will affect the critical pollination services they provide. They will also be recieving $500 worth of book vouchers.
"This award has just boosted my confidence in myself so much. I'm from ITE and because of that, I've just always felt inadequate. I've never recived an award like this in my life and I'm so proud," said Ms Rachael Lum, 19.
Ms Lum, who grew up planting vegetables and flowers with her parents in little pots, wants to be an eco-architect in the future. She is currently pursuing a diploma in sustainable architecture design in Nanyang Polytechnic.
The HSBC/NYAA Environmental Award was established in 1998. Students are nominated by their schools and tertiary institutions. They will then have to undergo an interview before they are either selected or rejected. This year, there were 60 nominations.
Last year, the six winners of the award were taken on a nine-day research trip to Andorra Pyrenees. The students spent time monitoring insects and mice as well as identifying plant species.
"It is important for all the parties to come together and to lend their weight towards a sustainable environment," said Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
Mr Zulkifli was there to hand out citation plaques and book vouchers alongside Mr Tony Cripps, chief executive officer of HSBC Singapore.
Tthe students are excited about the July trip to Costa Rica. Ms Tan said: "I'm really looking forward it. I've heard so much about it on nature channels and I can't wait to see it myself."