BlogTrailblazerTess Northcott – Northern Beaches Secondary College | Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazer 2021

Tess Northcott – Northern Beaches Secondary College | Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazer 2021

Trailblazer - Tess Northcott

What are the Trailblazer Awards?

The Trailblazer Awards celebrates Year 12 students beyond their ATAR, recognising those who have overcome personal challenges and used their final year of school to positively impact their community.

Our Trailblazers will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders, build their personal brand and profile as a future leader, learn key career skills in our 3-day Pathfinder Accelerator, and so much more!

Find out how Tess navigated Year 12 differently throughout 2021!

Introducing: Tess Northcott

Category: Environment

School: Northern Beaches Secondary College, Manly Selective Campus

Career Aspiration: Environmental policy maker


  • Essay published internationally
  • President of her school’s Environment Committee
  • Northern Sydney team organiser for the School Strike for Climate Movement
  • Finalist in Taronga Zoo’s nature photography competition

What makes Tess a Trailblazer?

One student, amongst 45 selected students worldwide, Tess’ essay on climate change and environmental conservation was internationally published! 

As part of the book, ‘Tomorrow is Too Late: An International Youth Activist Manifesto for Climate Justice’ published by The Indigo Press, Tess targeted her essay to world leaders and commented on the threats posed by climate change. With the book featured in a variety of publications internationally, including ‘The Independent’ and ‘New Scientist’, Tess developed the ability to communicate her perspectives on this complex issue with a number of audiences. 

As a student activist, Tess held the position of President at her school’s Environment Committee, to support more sustainable practices within the school community. With a passion for the environment, she successfully raised donations for her school’s local Australian conservation charity. 

The activism did not stop here for Tess! She was an organiser in the Northern Sydney Team for the School Strike for Climate Movement, using her voice amidst a peaceful protest alongside presenting speeches and rallying for change. 

A young driver for change during the difficult year on Year 12 amidst COVID lockdowns, Tess faced personal struggles. Tess’ responsibility in her family grew when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and underwent treatment. Not only was Tess dealing with her personal mental health during a trying time, but she held a responsibility to care for her younger siblings and take care of the household. 

However, this responsibility did not deter Tess from her love for wildlife. Prior to the pandemic, Tess was a volunteer with Birdlife Australia as part of the Powerful Owl Project. She supported the monitoring and local breeding of threatened species. Tess’ passion for wildlife also extends to wildlife photography! She was a shortlisted candidate in the International Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and a finalist in Taronga Zoo’s nature photography competition.

Tess is planning on studying in the area of Environment and Sustainability. She hopes to work within the government or private sector as a policy maker to change Australia’s response to climate change. 

“Having always been passionate about politics… I wish to play a role in preserving Australia’s unique environment for future generations.” 

The natural environment sits at the centre of Tess’ activism, leadership, writing and photography. Tackling various aspects of environmental discourse throughout a challenging year, Tess has placed in our Top 50 for the 2021 Trailblazer Awards!

The Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazer Awards

The Trailblazer Awards aim to identify and celebrate students who use their final years of school to invest holistically in the skills and experiences that will maximise their own future opportunities and make a contribution to the future of our society.

Our winners for the Year 12 Trailblazer Awards have demonstrated initiative in volunteering for their school or community, have participated in co-curricular activities, and have held leadership positions within their schools.

Learn more about who placed in the Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazers here!

About Art of Smart Education

At Art of Smart Education, we’re an award-winning provider of holistic tutoring and mentoring for students in years K-12. Our mission is to help students answer the difficult question, “What am I going to do with my life when I finish school, and how do I get there?” 

We understand that true success involves mastering study, career and leadership skills while maintaining your wellbeing, not just excelling in academics and as a result, over the last decade, we’ve supported over 10,000 students to achieve their best and maximise their options for life after school.

Each year over one million young Australians, parents, and teachers access our guides, videos and resources to navigate the journey through high school.

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