What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
• Photographer and ecologist Jen Guyton passes along some key advice for those aspiring to dedicate themselves to conserving biodiversity.
• The main takeaway: You don't have to be a scientist to do important work in this area. Find your passion, then follow it to meaningful projects with like-minded collaborators.
• Read about why we should pay attention to preachers of animal rights.
“How can I make the biggest difference for conservation?”
Over the past 5 years, I’ve asked a lot of people this question. I was sure someone would have a straightforward answer, even if I didn’t like it. “If it means saving rainforests,” I thought to my naive self, “I’ll spend the rest of my life locked in a basement, writing letters to lawmakers.” Fortunately for my own life enjoyment, the answer isn’t that simple. In fact, the replies I got from prominent conservationists, who have spent their lives making a real difference, were hugely variable.
For the purposes of this blog, I’ll define a conservationist as anyone who dedicates a substantial portion of their time and/or resources to conserving biodiversity, single species, or habitats anywhere in the world. Yes, it really is that broad! As you’ll see below, you don’t have to be a scientist to be a conservationist. You can be an artist, a manager, an investor, an engineer, an organic farmer … anyone can pivot to make a real contribution to conservation.
So what should YOU do as an aspiring conservationist? I’ll walk you through the great advice I’ve gotten from a few of the conservationists I admire.
- Figure out where your passions and your talents lie. This might require trying a few different things: working a few different jobs, taking some specialized classes in college, or volunteering your time to things that pique your interest.
- Find one place or one project that you can dedicate serious time, energy, and resources to.
- Find collaborators; great partners can help you advance your cause in a number of different ways.
- Get out of the box. Conservation isn’t only about the natural world; helping human communities can help conservation too.
- No matter who you are and what you’re doing, even if you don’t become a “professional” conservationist, you can make a contribution to conservation.
- Your path might be a winding one; you might hit a few roadblocks or get a little lost, and that’s OK!
Read the full article about how to be a conservationist by Jen Guyton at National Geographic.