The award, developed by Antarctica New Zealand in partnership with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, was launched by the Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Peter Blake's son, James Blake, as part the 50th anniversary celebrations at Scott Base in January 2007. The award aims to provide an opportunity for a young New Zealander to contribute to environmental work in Antarctica. Jeremy ("Jay") Piggott was selected from a large number of high quality applicants.
"We were just blown away by the calibre of people we had applying for this award. It was inspiring to learn about these young New Zealanders who are so passionate about the environment and who are already contributing so much" said Laura Fayerman, Environmental Programme Manager from the Sir Peter Blake Trust and one of the award selection panel members.
Jay Piggott (25 years old) is currently the team manager of the Stream Ecology Research Group in the Department of Zoology at The University of Otago. He has extensive experience in the outdoors as a mountaineer, climber, scuba diver and sailor. His writing and photographs have been widely published and he has been an internationally recognised youth leader for the environment. He was selected by the United Nations Environment Programme as a youth facilitator and had an important role in the UNEP Youth Envoys Programme. He was also selected as a crewmember on the Japanese "Ship for World Youth" and has represented New Zealand as a youth ambassador for a number of important environmental conferences and networks.
While he is widely travelled and incredibly experienced for a young man, he has never been to Antarctica. "I am so honoured to be chosen for this award, it's been a life-long dream of mine to visit Antarctica but to have the opportunity to get involved in environmental work as well is just amazing" Jay said.
Environment and Outreach Manager for Antarctica New Zealand, Dr Neil Gilbert says he is delighted with Jay's selection and with the Youth Ambassador programme. "Jay is an outstanding first recipient for this award. 2007 is the International Polar Year and so it is appropriate time to launch this programme which invests in the future of the Antarctic environment by building capability and understanding in younger New Zealanders" he said.