Anyone who works in conservation knows that not just anyone can do it.
Not just anyone can explain it either. There are a few prerequisites to adept communication in the realm where science meets managers, policy, and public discourse. First, you need an abiding interest in all living things. Second, you need sufficient science training to understand the language of scientists, but perhaps not too much because you must translate that into the language of non-scientists. Third, you are well-served with a sense of humor! Experience and familiarity with the bewildering spectrum of conservation issues, projects, agencies, and acronyms is also invaluable. Luckily for me, a circuitous life path has bestowed these qualifications upon me, layer by layer.
For as long as I can remember, I have been motivated by a connection to nature. Like many in this field, my appreciation for places of solitude -- simultaneously peaceful but animated by the lively conversations of wrens, vireos, and the occasional Bobwhite -- led me down a path toward the study and appreciation of nature. Ecological understanding brought both wonder and intimations of disaster. My studies inspired me to serve as a conservation professional. (Did I mention that I lack the patience for research but admire those who do it very much?) My career has unfolded in a way that has given me the chance to experience many aspects of the conservation endeavor: managing 5000 acres of land, dealing with everything from irrigation pipe to interpretive exhibits; developing mitigation projects at the local level; assessing and managing grant portfolios for migratory bird conservation; and collaborating in marine, water, and habitat policy and funding initiatives at the state level in California. Finally, after a move from the West Coast back to the East, an opportunity arose to interview many private landowners and to tell their stories of the trials and the triumphs that come with dedication to the land. All of which led me to establish my business in Conservation Communications, working with a wide community of researchers, practitioners, agencies, and organizations all connecting across a vast landscape of personalities and ecosystems.
In our time, the interconnected efforts of many -- landowners, scientists, land managers, governments, and businesses -- are manifesting as a multi-faceted endeavor to achieve nothing less than the safeguarding of the natural world as we know it, not only for our today but for our children’s tomorrow. I have come full circle, back to my childhood roots in the South, the ones that motivate me to listen to the meadowlark’s song and to tell the stories of passion, commitment, and hard work by so many people who are dedicated to protecting wild nature. Because without wild nature, what would happen to our human nature?