Meet Quek Yew Aun
The 27-year-old was recently selected by The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) as a 2021 EE 30 Under 30 Changemaker for his work in environmental education.
Quek is a marine biologist by training and the co-founder of Reef Stakes – the first marine-themed role-playing card game in Malaysia
Hailing from Petaling Jaya, Quek graduated with a Masters of Science in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management from the University of Oxford.
He currently works as a conservationist and policymaker at the Malaysian Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.
"My interest in biodiversity first manifested as a love for the great outdoors. Although I grew up in the city, I was an active boy scout and would often go camping in the tropical rainforest," he told NAAEE.
The young Malaysian was also previously a conservation officer at the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) and is a regular environmental issues columnist for Malay Mail.
As an active player in local outreach programs, Quek knew there was much negativity and jargon attached with environmental messaging
"People are easily turned off," said Quek.
So, in the past few years, he and his co-founders decided to explore the possibility of turning basic environmental concepts into a game and came up with Reef Stakes.
"The game is designed to mimic real-life stakeholder relationships, introduce some of Malaysia's most iconic marine species, and highlight threats to coral reefs," he explained.
The game has since been used by various local organisations for their outreach work and was also awarded the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Seeds of the Future grant by the United States in 2019.
With the recognition by the NAAEE this year, Quek and his team will be receiving support to boost their impact
Quek was chosen to join a cohort of 12 changemakers from eight other countries — all young, inspiring leaders committed to addressing the world's sustainability and environmental issues — to receive a grant and professional development training.
Through the Changemaker Grant, Quek will be running a youth capacity development programme called Reef Spawn on Pulau Tioman in August this year.
Through the bootcamp, his team aims to equip 12 more budding conservationists with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the environment and empower youths in their local communities.