Week 3 PMWC check-in 🦉

Checking-in to see how you are all doing and a few nuggets of information

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Hello team, 

How is everyone? How were your weekends? Mine was full of walking, doing an online course myself and making origami dinosaurs (yes I have time on my hands during lockdown!).

There are a few things I'd like to share with you:

A BIT MORE ABOUT WILDTEAM
I know we've told you a little bit about WildTeam, but in case you are interested in finding out more: 

  • Here is an article a colleague and I co-wrote a while back for the Conservation Optimism blog.
  • We've recently added a new section to our website sharing stories of the inspiring people and organisations we work with, here.


EXERCISES FOR THIS WEEK
One of the exercises this week is to create a roles diagram for a project you are working on or have worked on in the past. I realise this may seem more difficult if you've got less experience of working in conservation, but these examples can be from anything! They can be from a past job unrelated to conservation, university dissertations, or, if you want, it can be completely made up, perhaps your dream conservation team or with fictional characters.


QUICK POLL 
We all have our own ideas about how to save the wildlife we love. What's stopping you creating your own conservation organisation to put those ideas into reality?

  • Lack of job security
  • Lack of confidence
  • Prefer to work for others
  • I don't know how to
  • I already did


Please comment below and add extra options you think are missing.

Take care, 

Beth 🐛🦋🐝🐌

Beth Robinson

WildLearning Specialist, WildTeam

I'm a WildLearning Specialist with WildTeam, a bit of a odd job title. My main role is to design, deliver and organise both our online and class-based training workshops. One of the best parts of my job is meeting other conservationists and learning about the work that they do. I really enjoy geeking out reading teaching theory and thinking about ways I can more creatively and engagingly deliver learning. Before working for WildTeam I did a PhD in invasive plants and human wildlife interactions. I find it really interesting to learn about the ways people interact with nature, both when nature is being wonderful, but also when is is being a bit annoying!
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Comments

Go to the profile of Beckie Garbett
10 months ago

Hi Beth and PMWC team!

Thanks for the interesting links Beth!

I've often thought about starting a conservation NGO here in Botswana.
For me, the two aspects that you mentioned hindering this are 1) lack of confidence and 2) not knowing how to/where to start. I would add another that likely applies to the majority of developing countries and that would be 3) complex bureaucracy, surrounding both setting up an NGO, and permissions required for conducting research/conservation activities. 

I was hoping that Stella might be able to offer us all some insights on this :-) I was fascinated to hear of her NGO on whale sharks in Madagascar! No pressure though! 

Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
10 months ago

Oh yes, the complex bureaucracy might send me crazy. 

Go to the profile of Stella Diamant
10 months ago

Hi Beckie, I just replied to this, see my post further down. Hope it helps!

Go to the profile of Rosheen
10 months ago

Thanks Beckie for asking Stella the question. :D 

Go to the profile of Kathryn Jones
10 months ago

Hi Beth!

I think i'm not really interested in an NGO leadership role, i have always aspired to work for other organisations that have built up a name, and hope to become a part of teams that already have a plan and guidance in place. I think when it comes to total creation of something like that, it crosses over a little too much into the business sector for me, and i lose sight of what i truly wish to do. Which is on-the-ground work to help my native species! 

So i would say i prefer to work for others and i suppose i don't really know how to even start! I am very new to the career world as a fresh graduate, and am very comfortable where i am with my career goals.

Go to the profile of Beth Rogers
10 months ago

Hi Beth and the PMWC team! 

This is an interesting topic and one I have thought about a couple of times...

I think the main reasons for me would be: 1) Im not sure I have the confidence to start something from scratch and not sure where to start! 2) Probably the main reason is because I love to be out there on the front line of conservation and doing the ground work. I am not one to lead and do all the important background work. 

But you never know.. maybe one day I will! (hopefully with someone who can lead and do the logistics and I'll do the physical work) :) 

Go to the profile of Aurora Hood
10 months ago

Hi Beth,

I think my answer to the quick poll would essentially be "all of the above". Not only would I be extremely worried about the lack of job security due to my not being cut out for starting my own conservation organisation and having no idea on how to do it anyway, but at this stage in my life I would much prefer to work for others who (hopefully) know what they're doing. Perhaps later in life it would be something that I would consider, but right now it is out of the question for me.

Go to the profile of Martine Graf
10 months ago

Hi Beth and everyone :)

I must say I have played with the thought more than once and wondered how it would be to just do it and work for exactly what I am passionate about. But at the moment I completely agree with what Aurora said - I am too inexperienced and don't have the confidence to pull something like that off at the moment. Perhaps in 5 or 10 years down the road I could see myself attempting something like that, but right now I believe I wouldn't be the right person to lead an organisation and I'd rather gain experience by working for organisations I can learn from (easier said than done though unfortunately at the moment).

Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
10 months ago

Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone. It seems that lack of confidence comes up often, I don't know if that is because of the other factors or an additional thing. Hard to tease it all apart in your mind isn't it?! 

Does anyone have any tips or resources on how to increase confidence? 

Go to the profile of Kaitlyn Elverson
10 months ago

Hi Beth, 
Super interesting question, and I have to agree with the confidence thing. Personally, I'm normally quite a confident person when it comes to interpersonal/communication skills, but I feel I lack experience in the conservation sector that would make me take the steps to set up something of my own. 

I have a few tips for self-confidence that have helped me, that are hopefully transferable: 
-First big thing is mindset; If you go into something with an open mind, chances are you will take something positive from the experience, even if something goes wrong. Of course we can't be 100% positive all the time, but acceptance of your progress and self-reflection is important to see how far you've come and what you have achieved. 
-Surround yourself with inspirational, educational, creative people/content/media; I've found that over time, this has naturally boosted my confidence as I'm always surrounded by what I'm passionate about and I devote time and energy to what I enjoy. Someone I enjoy watching on YouTube is Sorelle Amore and she touches on stuff like this: https://www.youtube.com/user/SorelleIAm 
-Know and understand what you have to offer, because no one else can do what you do. Also, easier said than done, but don't compare yourself to others. 
-Develop ways/thoughts you can refer back to in the moment that will always make you feel like a boss!

Sounds more like a self-help post, but I hope that helps, even if it was just a reminder for what you already know about yourself! 

Go to the profile of Beckie Garbett
10 months ago

Great tips! Thanks Kaitlyn. So true about who you surround yourself with. I'll check out Sorelle!

Go to the profile of Rosheen
10 months ago

Hi Kaitlyn yes I can see how mindset, openness and surrounding your self with positive contend would be of huge value.

Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
10 months ago

I actually love a bit of a self-help post, think we all need that sometimes. 

Love this - "Develop ways/thoughts you can refer back to in the moment that will always make you feel like a boss!"

Thanks for sharing :)

Go to the profile of Stella Diamant
10 months ago

Hi Beth! Thanks for checking in, and nice to read your poll too.

So even if I did setup my own organisation (you can check it out on www.madagascarwhalesharks.org), I want to point out a few things. Initially it was partly because I couldn't find the job I wanted (manage conservation projects) back then that I decided to go get that experience myself. Five years later I still can't get these jobs! So to say the field is competitive is an understatement, it is terrifying. But in the meantime I discovered I could achieve the vision I had in mind: running a science project that influences policy and supports sustainable development, with relatively little experience and funding!

For me there were key things that helped:

-finding your tribe: colleagues, friends and family that will support you. Still now a lot of people will try to stop you from doing what you want-especially as you get older and don't fit into the social norm of starting a family in your mid-twenties. I think we as women particularly feel this pressure, or feel we need to feel it. Find people that will support you!

-finding people that are more "senior" will make you grow substantially, even if it is informal. For me it took a while but I now have a few wonderful mentors who will happily share advice BUT also challenge me, tell me to try harder or just stop what I am doing. Even if it is hard at times, it is important to have people in this field who can point you in the right directions.

-realising I could get funding-you do need to get really good at grant writing (potential WILDTEAM course?), and there are still other less conventional ways. You don't need a PhD. We really on tourism a lot (which clearly isn't helping right now), that was a route I never thought of before. Private donors exist, but finding them is hard.

-Finally, realising it won't pay you. At least not in the initial years. And it's totally fine to be sharing your life with your parents for a bit (it made it all financially possible for me really), or to do a random job on the side, or to ask for a loan. You just need free time to work on your project/organisation-it is a baby!

I think these are the main points I'd want to share with anybody at this stage. If you don't follow the usual PhD route, aside from running an organisation you have no official paper for this and need to earn experience and certification whichever way you can. I am thankful WILDTEAM and other ressources now exist.

I also think there should be some sort of mentorship or training available to link people up in conservation, often people's interests and locations cross-over, and collaborations really are a great starting point.

Here is a piece I wrote after our first season explaining how the project started if you want the details: https://www.conservation-careers.com/conservation-jobs-careers-advice/setting-project-lessons-learnt-madagascar-whale-shark-project/

Hopefully it inspires you :) See you all tomorrow!

Go to the profile of Rosheen
10 months ago

Stella thank you for responding so clearly to Beckie’s Question?challenge. Very interesting read of your perspective. All great advice particularly finding your tribe and mentors. Yes grant writing seems a skill to gain particularly in the conservation realm. I would need to find a good outsource for grant writing however would very much like to understand the process. Good on you for seeing what need to be done and starting your very interesting project

Go to the profile of Beckie Garbett
10 months ago

Thanks so much for sharing Stella!

You are brave and it sounds like such an impactful NGO! It's a bit disheartening to hear that all of this wonderful experience, initiative, and dedication hasn't been enough to secure you a project management position.

Having a Ph.D. is for sure not the be-all and end-all (and definitely shouldn't be), and yes, the importance of grant writing is probably underestimated (and probably something most of us try to avoid)! Now you make me wonder if I've come across some training on this at some point in my vast google searches...

Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
10 months ago

Thank so much Stella, very inspiring to read! 

Finding your tribe - so important. And I know what you mean about not fitting into social norms and the extra pressures as a woman. 

Mentors - yes! Can be so helpful. 

Grant writing course...watch this space and sign up to our email updates ;) 

This would make a great general WildHub post if you were willing? No pressure though. 

Go to the profile of Kaitlyn Elverson
10 months ago

Hi Stella, 
Thank you for your input, extremely inspirational and inspiring and I think the bit about choosing your own path/not needing a PhD is just what I needed to read right now!
Also, I think you mentioned during one of the first live sessions about looking for volunteers for your project? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd love to know more if there's a possibility! 
Thanks again! 

Go to the profile of Rosheen
10 months ago

Hi Beth 

my hesitations

  • Lack of confidence
  • Prefer to work for others . Many worth while conservation initiatives that could do with help already. 
  • I don't know how to or quiet what to focus on 
  • my personal favourite i know just enough to be dangerous but get a feeling of overwhelmed about where to start and how much there really is to know
  • i am not sure if job security is a thing any more. I would just like to work in an ethical and useful area to be of some positive impact on the work and have a valuable (at what ever organisation level) contribution.
Go to the profile of Aurora Hood
10 months ago

Hi Beth, quick question on the live session for this week: are we going to do the speed meet & greets again before the session starts? I know it was talked about a bit, but I never heard anything final on it. Thanks!

Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
10 months ago

We are not officially doing speed meets, but we will always be online half an hour before the live sessions actually begin, so if there is more than one person and they would like to do a speed meet then definitely we can do that.