Philna grew up on a farm near Worcester in the Western Cape. She went to Paarl Girls’ High School, and then to Stellenbosch University. She graduated with BSc in Conservation Ecology in December 2011.
For her final year project, Philna conducted a conservation management plan for a local wine cellar with four contributing farms. The objective of the management plan was to ensure that no agricultural practices would have a negative effect on the endemic Fynbos biome surrounding the area. Critical emphasis was placed on the documentation of the natural environment, both fauna and flora, and to ensure that the wildlife native to the endemic Fynbos biome was left unharmed.
Philna always knew she wanted to continue her studies within the field of conservation. She started an MSc on Bank Cormorant Conservation Research in 2012. The goal is to understand the reasons for the decline of this "Endangered" species, so that management actions can be put in place to conserve it.
Her hobbies are hiking, photography and horse riding, and she cannot imagine herself not working in the natural environment.