Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Taranee Uma Maheswar and Frank van der Most.
Taranee and Frank both participate in our WildHub Conservation Catalyst programme, meaning that they catalyse the sharing of lessons learned by teaming up with other conservationists. Through this post, our community would like to thank them for their important contributions to WildHub as these provide essential information that helps us grow, learn and improve our work as conservationists.
As an international student from Malaysia, Taranee completed her BSc in Conservation Biology in the UK in 2022. She is currently working as a Network Site Admin & GIS Analyst for the RSPB. Taranee joined WildHub in June 2022 and in her introduction post she mentioned that:
I believe that by joining this community, I will get to meet so many other talented and brave new minds that also share the same interests as me in the field of ecology and conservation. I am hoping to learn as I go along, exploring this brilliant online platform, and educating myself on the necessary skills that are needed for me to help endangered species to recover.”
Last month (Feb 2023), Taranee published her first contribution in her role as ‘soon-to-be Conservation Catalyst’. I recently touched base with Taranee and she shared how the WildHub Catalyst programme has been for her so far. Read her insights below:
Taranee: “My first interview article “A Conservation Victory - Saving the Mountain Gorillas” was with @Alain Mukiranya. It is an honour to share the journey of an inspiring conservationist with the rest of the world. This is the beginning of many more.”
Thirza: “how does it feel to have published your first lessons learned post in collaboration with another WildHub member?”
Taranee: “I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction having published my first interview article. I like the process of learning more about conservation in different parts of the world as well as connecting with people from different backgrounds.
Thirza: “What was a challenge you came across?”
Taranee: “The challenge was to be flexible to my interviewee's schedule and availability. I overcame this challenge by preparing well in advance and reminding the interviewee closer to the date of the interview.”
Thirza: “What will your next piece be focused on?”
Taranee: “I hope to focus my next piece on the topic of illegal wildlife trading.”
To our dear members with expertise in illegal wildlife trade, please get in touch with Taranee to be interviewed and share your lessons learned :)
Frank, Dutch in origin, is living in Costa Rica. During a sabbatical year in 2020, he decided to change his work life towards nature conservation and dedicate his skills in database development to that. So, Frank quit his job as Research Engineer at Lund University in Sweden, moved back to Costa Rica and started a company called Rubber Boots Data (https://rubberbootsdata.com) based on his databases and funding expertise.
When I registered [for WildHub] yesterday, I noticed that an area of expertise is 'Funding'. Although I am relatively new to nature conservation, I used to be an academic with an interest in science funding and I do have a PhD on that topic [...] I got so enthusiastic about the topic that I immediately started compiling a list of donors/funders. It's a start and I will keep working on it.”
Frank joined WildHub in May 2022 and enthusiastically posted several lessons learned contributions. I then approached him for the Conservation Catalyst programme as it’s a great way of building your professional network in conservation. After an introduction to @Antony Lynam, who works for the WCS in Thailand, this led to a collaborative contribution in which Frank interviewed Tony resulting in a lesson learned post “Hopeful and optimistic about partnerships and new technology”.
Thirza: What did you like best about the process/this work?
The interview itself. I have done my share of semi-structured in-depth interviews during my academic life. There are few things as rewarding as having a talk with someone about a topic that we both care about or are interested in (Frank van der Most, participant in WildHub’s Conservation Catalyst programme).
Frank: "There is a lot of preparation going into an interview, and sometimes spread out over a long period, but it is definitely worth my while."
Thirza: “What was a challenge you came across and how did you overcome it?”
Frank: “Getting potential interviewees to actually respond to my request. The problem lies with not getting a response at all because then I don’t know what is happening. Are they not interested or did they not get the message? So, the successful contacts started through LinkedIn with a very brief question ‘Did you get my message through WildHub’ or ‘Would you be interested in participating in an interview about … ?’. The person can then check my LinkedIn profile to see that I am serious.
Last but not least. Thirza’s help has been great. So far, the people who did respond positively to my request, had been contacted first by Thirza through email or LinkedIn. Thank you so much for that, Thirza! It shows that a network like WildHub, actually works.”
Thirza: “Which members would you like to contact you for a next interview (e.g. which expertise should they have)?”
Frank: “I am interested in talking to conservationists about data management or about funding. I am also interested in talking to people working for a sponsor or funding organisation, because they see the other side of the application process. I expect that their lessons learned can be extremely valuable for the applicant conservationists.”
Please find Frank’s other contributions on the following topics below:
- Introduction to online nature conservation databases. From data to knowledge product;
- Interval coding - what could possibly go wrong?
- Nature conservation grant databases
A big thank you, Taranee and Frank, for sharing your experience with us, the WildHub community appreciates all that you do! Congrats on becoming a WildHub Core Community member and we look forward to reading/listening to your next contribution!
Conservation Catalysts are our Core Community members who catalyse the sharing of lessons learned by teaming up with other conservationists. Would you like to join our Conservation Catalyst programme? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.