Fundraiser for Wildlife:
Tegan Lather

Fundraiser for wildlife Tegan is only 14 and she is everything Wildhelpers is trying to promote: that each and everyone of us can make a difference for wildlife.

tegan-lather-koala

Tegan loves animals. She wasn't just going to witness their decline and their pain without fighting back. Nope, Tegan is not that kind of person: she took their future into her hand and she tirelessly raises money for them through fundraisers she organises or supports.

Tegan has currently raised more than $70,000.00 and she is not stopping!

If that wasn't enough for one person, Tegan is also a writer for wildlife magazines and her website as well as having a book and an app - on wildlife - in production.

Wildhelpers met the inspirational Tegan and ask her how she manages to achieve so much.


What are your occupations?

High School Student and Fundraiser for Wildlife Conservation Charities.

What does Fundraiser for Wildlife Conservation Charities involves exactly?

My fundraising includes all the normal fundraising activities like sausage sizzles, read-a-thons, markets stalls etc.

Tegan's work as a fundraiser for wildlife never stops: here, with her local Woolies Manager who donated her $50 per month to help with her sausage sizzle

Tegan’s first fundraiser for wildlife "Ask Animals Anything", a new age event, where people learnt how to connect to the animals energy  - Apparently, when Tegan speaks about this event she gets very strange looks... 

But over 100 people were very interested.

An awesome event - Fund raised = $10,000 

But I have the most fun (and raise the most money) through creating some big events. Two of the more successful events have become annual events:

  •  a car rally around the Sunshine Coast,
  •  the ZOO RUN.

I have also had two fundraisers which featured dogs being used for conservation, which is why I was so excited to meet Maya the detection dog!

Tegan's car rally - a very popular fundraiser for wildlife - fund raised = $11,325

Tegan's fundraiser for wildlife at Nando's - fund raised = $2,000

Tegan's fundraiser for wildlife "the Zoo Run" - Fund raised = $20,000

Trixie and Johnno from the Block join in to helped Tegan to promote the ZOO RUN!

I have no employer, no one pays me – it is all voluntary!

But my family have formed a non-profit company called Wildlife Emergency Ltd. When I eventually turn 18, I get to be a director of the company!

What’s the most exciting thing about being a
Fundraiser for Wildlife?

I love to raise awareness about our beautiful wildlife.  If I can save one animal by educating someone, I feel I have helped. 

The money that I have raised for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has been used to purchase medicines for the animals and important equipment for the surgery, so I know in a small way I have helped. 

I have also been lucky enough to meet some pretty amazing people in the past three years and I have done some amazing and fun things as well. 

the-Irwin-family

Tegan with the Irwin's family - Steve and Terri Irwin founded the Australia Zoo, their kids Bindi and Robert are well in the way of being famous conservationists too - and a couple of chilled echidnas...

The story behind the photo is pretty cool!

Robert had just taught Tegan to put the food all over her toes and feet, the echidnas had licked it all off with their very long tongues!!! 

That day, Robert and Bindi has also taught Tegan how to feed carrots to Giraffes.

What’s the worse side of being a Fundraiser for Wildlife?

The boring side is all the planning that goes on for one of my events. 

It means that I spend hours sending off emails or letters to local businesses to ask for their support either by sponsorship or prizes for my events.  I send off thousands of these types of emails every school holidays and on the weekends to make my events fun so more people will come. 

Sitting inside on the computer can be pretty boring!

What helped you most in becoming a Fundraiser for Wildlife?

That is easy, my Dad and Mum. 

Tegan's supportive Mum Kathy and Dad Wayne

Wildhelpers Note

This is why it is so important to have your kids involved with wildlife early on!

Go see wildlife with them, and surround them with wild animals so they too become kids for wildlife!

Dad has always LOVED animal documentaries and they have been playing in my house for as long as I can remember.  I have watched Sir David Attenborough and Steve Irwin for the past 14 years!

Mum always believes in me, telling me I can do amazing things, both  Mum and Dad have always encouraged me to love animals – our holidays are based on visiting wildlife sanctuaries and encounters in the wild.

So we’ll visit a beach and end up picking up litter! I have always been taught to pick up our litter and the reasons why. 

I reckon they did a pretty good job in this regard.  I will have to credit them as my inspiration. 

Proud parents of high achieving fundraiser for wildlife, Tegan

In fact it was Dad that first took me to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital when we first moved up to Bribie Island.  I saw a koala on the table getting operated on and I knew I had to help.  Dad joined me up as a Joey Ambassador and then they never said No to me.  No matter what I wanted to do as a fundraiser they would help 110%. 

When Mum asked, “what is something fun we can do that will raise a lot of money.  Can you think of anything we have done that was fun?” I told her I wanted to do a Greatest Race (as I loved watching the show) with cool challenges etc.  We then went on to create the Car Rally and it is a lot of hard work, but heaps of fun!

Tegan feeding a Binturong

How long have you been a Fundraiser for Wildlife?

  • I joined up as a Joey Ambassador in late 2010. 
  • I started small with market stalls, sausage sizzles and towel drives.
  • My first big event was in September 2011.

So this will be my 4th year doing fundraising for wildlife.  

Tegan's advice:

Get involved in a local wildlife group or program. 

There are a few kids programs around as well, so you don’t have to wait until you’re an adult:

Do something now!

It's never too early to change the world!

The Joey Ambassadors of Australia Zoo on their way to perform a beach clean up.

Many conservation organisations have programs for young conservationists!

Beach clean up by the Joey Ambassadors

The Joey Ambassadors and Bindi Irwin all agree: plastic has nothing to do on our beaches! Join them and become plastic free!

What do you see as your biggest achievement as a Fundraiser for Wildlife?

I suppose it would be the fact that I have now raised over $70,000.00 for conservation in the past 3 years (with a lot of help from Mum and Dad). 

Tegan holding checks of how much she has raised for the Australia Zoo

I have helped Proyecto Titi (Cotton Top Tamarins in Columbia), Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue, Sunshine Coast Wildlife Rescue, Bribie Island Wildlife Rescue, Bat Rescue Queensland just to name a few that have popped into my head. 

The charity that I raise most of my funds for is the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.

The reason that I support them is that ALL the money I raise for them goes to the Wildlife Hospital.  I also know that by helping the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital I am helping all of the carers in the local area as they all use this facility.

If it wasn’t there, many of the wildlife that are injured or sick would die.  It is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, so there is no need for any injured wildlife that has been found to suffer and be left until the next day simply there was no vets open. 

If I broke my arm my mum would drive until I saw a doctor and was not in pain and I don’t understand why we think animals shouldn’t receive the same respect and treated with love. 

Bindi and Tegan having a great time at the Zoo Run

What is the project that you are the most proud of?

This would have to be my big fundraising events – the Family Fun Day Car Rally and the ZOO RUN.  These events have shown me that people do care. 

I have also seen a lot of people just don’t know that they can help in small ways for our Wildlife.  Many didn’t know about other wildlife groups in their areas or about the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. 

I am also so happy to hear that after my events, they have received regular donations in the way of towels, out of date medicines or even cash donations from someone who has attended one of my events. 

I have even found volunteers for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.  This is so cool!

zoo-run

Tegan's Zoo Run - a successful fundraiser for wildlife

What about the project that you most want to achieve in the future?

I would like to take a more hands-on role in saving wildlife, especially Endangered Species.

I live on Bribie Island which has some great wildlife, but also has lots of hazards for the animals.

I really want to set up possum crossings, save areas for the turtles to come and nest, and see the animals on my island thrive and increase in numbers.  To make Bribie Island as a safe and secure animal habitat that people come to see the animals and learn, respect and enjoy – then leave taking all their rubbish with them!

How do you spend your time as a Fundraiser for Wildlife?

I am pretty boring. 

I go to school!

On the weekends I will either be sausage sizzling, mostly for smaller groups that I like to help out.  Also on the weekends this is when I will send out or reply to any emails for any of my events.

Sadly I don’t get to “be in the field” yet, but I do like to go and visit my carer friends and help out now and then with cuddles and feeds.

Longman-Award
philanthropist-award

Tegan with MP Wyatt Roy after winning the Longman Award and Tegan with Terri Irwin and Anne Collett at the Young Philanthropist Award 2013 - both awards recognitions of her outstanding work as a Fundraiser for Wildlife

But because I am a Fundraiser for Wildlife, I have enjoyed a lot of “Cool” things. 

I have just recently been named as Young Citizen of the Year 2014 at the Moreton Bay Australia Day Awards.

I have also won the Junior Philanthropist 2013 for Queensland and the Youth Achievement Award at the Longman Awards. All these awards come with lovely trophies and certificates and really nice dinners, but the best bit about these awards was that I got to share them with Mum and Dad, as they are there helping me all the time.

Receiving awards is really cool but more importantly it also helps in a BIG way to get my message out there, as more people are willing to listen and support me after I receive an award. 

"One of my greatest treasures that I will always keep is my personally signed book from Sir David Attenborough!"

Tegan Lather

What is your next challenge as a Fundraiser for Wildlife?

I am still working on my App. 

It is called Wildlife Emergency. 

I started this a few years back as my family and I were driving around looking at Christmas lights.  I saw a possum on the side of the road and Mum pulled over to see if we could help the poor thing.  

Sadly it was dead, but then I asked “What would we have done if it was alive?”  Mum and Dad said they didn’t know.  So we went looking for a book to keep in the car, but couldn’t find one…so I thought I will write one myself. 

It is still in the works, but hopefully (if I stop getting distracted with other fundraisers) we will finish it this year. 

The Wildlife Emergency App and Book is a Lather family commitment.   We have gathered all the data; we just have to find the time to put it all together. 

yound-citizen-of-the-year

Tegan receiving her Young Citizen of the Year Award

How do you see your life in the future?

I am only going into year 10 this year, so I still have three years of High School and then University – so lots of education ahead of me! 

My dream job is to be a designer of animal enclosures and exhibits (Zoo Designer).  I love that these areas are changing to suit the animals instead of all concrete and cages at the zoos of the past.  Mum and Dad have always taken me to Zoos, Sanctuaries, and Wildlife Parks and encouraged me to love the animals. 

I want to learn how to make the animals feel safe and comfortable in their areas, with enough enrichment activities to keep their minds active.  Even though most of the animals in zoos today have been bred in captivity, I want to design the exhibits so that they look as close to the animal’s natural habitats. This is part of the education for the visitors, so that they learn more about the animals and want to conserve the species.

Sadly for some species, Zoos may be their only hope for the future – like a living museum.  We are killing our animals and destroying their environment so quickly that they just won’t be in the wild, which is very sad.  I would have loved to have seen a Tasmanian Tiger.

Things that inspire you...

Favourite animal...

The cheetah is my favourite animal. 

My favourite Australian native animals are Koalas, Tasmanian Devils and Quolls.

Favourite personality...

I look up to Steve and Terri Irwin. 

I spent years following their adventures and reading about how they donate so much to our wildlife. 

Now I have even been lucky enough to meet Terri Irwin and she is so nice and supportive of me - it is great.

Tegan and Terri in the middle of a great conversation

Favourite recipe...

Uhm….. I don’t cook mum does. 

But one of my favourite meals is Spaghetti because I know how to cook it and I just think it is YUMMY! 

Also 2 minute noodles, but Dad says this is a requirement of all Uni students as it is classed as a main food group.

Something else you are passionate about...

Education is the key and education needs to be FUN!

Tegan talking about her work as a fundraiser for wildlife in front of  primary school students

It should be hands on with the animals, cleaning, feeding and falling in love with them.   

Hand-on experiences, whether in the wild or in a wildlife park, are more memorable than reading a text book! The experiences teach us to love and protect the animals. 

Every time you turn on the news, you hear horrible stories about teenagers hurting each other and our animals.  Well maybe if we experienced more of our wildlife around us (if we don’t kill everything), we would appreciate it more and want to look after it better. 

I don’t understand why everyone in Australia thinks it is ok to drop their rubbish on the ground or in the sea.  No one is there to pick it up and yet it creates serious harm to our wildlife.  Maybe this should be in our schools instead of other subjects?  Just a thought!

If people want more info on you, where should they go?

Just Google me!

No seriously, it is hilarious that I show up on Google!

The newspapers have been very nice to me and have helped promote my events, so there a quite a few articles that you can find just by googling my name!


Tegan is such an amazing young woman. The positive footprint she is already having on our world is phenomenal. You can find more about Tegan and get ideas on how to become a successful fundraiser for wildlife at her site Wildlife Emergency.

I am deeply inspired by her, and I found her achievements to contain wonderful lessons:

1/ we can all change the world,

2/ love and support of family and friends give us wings. By supporting us, they also change the world.

So start changing the world today!


tegan-the-star

Tegan: you are a star!