Where it All Started – Becoming an Environmental Educator

By Justine Swartz, 6th October 2023

A story by Justine Swartz


“I enjoy my work because I get to pursue my passions, which include working with people and imparting my knowledge of nature to them.”

Justine Swartz doing an interactive activity with a group of children at the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre during the October school holidays in Kalk Bay. Image by ©Antonique Dick.

World Teacher’s Day is a celebration of the dedicated educators who have positively impacted countless lives through their knowledge and compassion. Today, we share the story of Justine Swartz, a senior educator at the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre (SOSFSEC), whose love for nature as a young girl has pushed her to pursue a career within the environmental education sector.


My name is Justine Swartz, and I became an educator with the SOSFSEC in November 2021. I often reflect on my conservation journey and ask myself why I am in environmental education and the answer is always the same I love what I do. My job allows me to pursue my passion for interacting with people and being in nature. I adore being outside and everything related to the water. I believe in the vision of Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre because it aligns with my own goals which is to help students develop a connection to the ocean by educating them on why it’s important for preservation and showing them that there is more to experience in nature. Science and nature are interlinked and accessible to all of us, therefore I use education as a tool to steer away from the negatives in our communities.

Justine Swartz in action at the graduation ceremony for the marine explorers from Sibelius High for the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre. ©Image by Antonique Dick.


My passion for the environment developed as a young girl, with the memories of my mom taking us on long walks, which always ended up with us at the beach swimming, and this encouraged me to develop a deep passion for the ocean. I began working as a volunteer on environmental education programs, and that was the beginning of my 16-year quest to inspire and enrich young minds with a love for conservation work. 

The Education team at Dalebrook Beach, after a group tour at Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre in Kalk Bay. ©Image by Antonique Dick.

I enjoy marine education because it allows me to perform outreach at schools, spend time on the rocky shores, snorkel, and work with an incredible team at the SOSFSEC, but what has always motivated me are the smiles of the learners when they get to visit the SOSFSEC for the first time.