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Meet the Team

About Us > Meet the Team
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Our people inspire confidence in the future through effective, innovative and engaging approaches to conserving wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend.

Stephan Ras

Ecolodge Manager

Steve manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with his partner Karlijn. Stephan has a Master of Science in Educational Studies and feels right at home with his management skills. He enjoys engaging with guests about all that the area and the Conservation Ecology Centre has to offer.

Both Steve and Karlijn are dedicated to communicating the work of the Conservation Ecology Centre and Lizzie and Shayne’s work in creating it. They have a passion for eco-tourism, sustainability, and developing an interesting guest experience with local products such as wines, beers, coffee, tea, and homegrown vegetables on site. Steve is also expert at all things admin and helps ensure that the Conservation Ecology Centre functions as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Karlijn Sas

Ecolodge Manager

Karlijn manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with her partner Steve. She is a people-person and along with Steve truly enjoys spending time with Ecolodge guests to assist in their itinerary so they get most out of their stay in the Otway forests.

Karlijn also co-ordinates the Conservation Ecology Centre’s program of events, including the hugely successful Art & Ecology program. This annual exhibition celebrates some of the most rare and fragile inhabitants of the Otways through art – contributed by local artists. And monies raised from the sale of the artworks contribute to the Conservation Ecology Centre’s research programs. Karlijn has a Master of Science in Cultural Studies and has transformed the Gallery of The Great Ocean Ecolodge that now features many of the threatened species in the Otways.

Emma McKenzie

Nature Guide & Wildlife Keeper

Nature guide Emma has a passion for quolls. She joined the CEC in 2019 after spending four years running wildlife tours in the southern Grampians. There she worked with both Tiger and Eastern Quolls, breeding the Eastern Quoll for a release program bringing them back from extinction on mainland Australia. She also worked with Squirrel Gliders and Fat tailed Dunnarts and cared for a mob of Brush Tailed Rock Wallabies which were once part of a release program in the Grampians.

Since completing her studies in Applied Science in Environmental Management at Ballarat University (now Federation University), Emma has worked on numerous conservation projects including pest plants and animals, large scale tree plantings, wetland restoration, and fauna surveys in both the Kimberley and around Dunkeld in regional Victoria.

Emma has also been a fire fighter for 10 years and is currently a member of the Apollo Bay CFA. She worked in fire management with the Department of Environment during the Black Saturday and Northern Grampians fires.

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