Brian Gardner: Fulfilling lifelong dreams in South Africa

Brian Gardner is a 2009 international corps alum from South Africa. He is currently an environmental consultant at Seaton Environmental where he works on impact assessments and environmental plans.

Brian Gardner’s love for the environment began at a very early age. Born in Zimbabwe, he grew up in a family that deeply valued nature and conservation. His father loved the environment and was very involved with wildlife conservation. After a few years, Brian’s family moved to a small village in South Africa. The village, situated high up in the mountains, had about 150 people. It was a wild and natural place full of rivers, forests, and peaks.

These rugged surroundings combined with his father’s passion for conservation sparked Brian’s desire to pursue a career in the environmental field. He studied environmental science in university, which is where he heard about EarthCorps. Brian liked the idea of getting out, exploring, and experiencing something different after college. He applied to join the Corps and was accepted into the 2009 cohort.

Brian says his favorite part about his EarthCorps experience was “everything.” He loved his crew and spending time with people from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the world. He also enjoyed the backcountry camping and trail building, especially in Mt. Rainier National Park, Mason Lake, and Vashon Island.

During his Corps year, Brian learned hands-on skills that would prove to be invaluable in his life and career. He learned about trail building, different ecosystems, botany, and planting. He also got to meet people from all around the world; Brian’s crew mates hailed from many countries, including Kenya, Kazakhstan, Liberia, and Honduras. Through this experience, Brian says he discovered a lot about the world and the people in it.

Today, Brian is an environmental consultant in the private sector in South Africa. He conducts a broad spectrum of consulting on environmental issues, from feasibility and impact assessments to reports and specialist studies. Brian says that his EarthCorps experience set him up well to be able to give sound advice that’s not just backed by theory but also practicality. The experience he gained through his Corps program makes it easier for him to explain and demonstrate concepts to others. This work has been incredibly rewarding for him.

When asked what advice he would give someone considering joining the corps, Brian says this: “Take the opportunity with both hands. It’s an all-around wholesome experience – from a work perspective, from a cultural perspective, and from a career development perspective. If it’s what you like doing, and you get the opportunity to do it, then grab it with both hands.”

Does this sound like the program for you? Learn more about joining EarthCorps here.