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  • Writer's pictureKatie

Lily Chambers- Comms 4 Conservation

Lily is a passionate wildlife conservation communications assistant, who shares amazing information all about our natural world and important messages to help us save it!

Short bio about yourself and your career so far:

I have always had a love for the natural world, but my education and volunteer experience enabled me to expand this interest and further explore topics I felt passionately about. I studied Zoology at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus for 3 years, enjoying amazing modules like Sensory Ecology, Conservation Biology and Science in Society. Here I got the opportunity to travel to exciting destinations such as Iceland and Costa Rica to carry out practical field work. My Zoology course also included an additional study year abroad in Guelph, Canada, where my modules involved Climate Change Ecology and even mammal tracking in the snow! The combination of exciting modules, exploring national parks, attempting to ice skate (I made Bambi on ice seem graceful) and the delicious chocolate-covered treats from Time Hortons made this is an experience I will treasure forever. After university I spent a year working in retail where I learned invaluable skills as a Team Leader before applying for a communications role at Essex Wildlife Trust.

How did you get into wildlife comms?

I knew I wanted to pursue a career related to wildlife, but I wasn’t aware of the scope of job opportunities associated with this field, especially as the only comment I would get related to my degree was “so do you want to work in a zoo?” From opportunities that began at university, I realised the importance of communicating science to others. In 2014 I supported a turtle conservation project as a volunteer in Cyprus. Here I collected data, monitored egg-laying females and communicated to the local and visiting public about the conservation issues during presentations, beach tours and hatchling releases. I was also a volunteer Engagement Officer for a community-driven recycling organisation called Replastic. I communicated the environmental impact of single use plastics and promoted sustainable practices, educating people in person at events and online about how they could make positive changes. Growing up in Colchester, I visited many Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserves across the county and I had also volunteered for them, tree planting at their Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Centre, so when I saw the local conservation charity was recruiting for a Communications Intern, I thought the combination of my passion for wildlife, my education as well as the knowledge and experience gained volunteering complemented the job specification nicely.

What does a career in communications entail?

My communications role at Essex Wildlife Trust is incredibly varied. I produce press releases about exciting wildlife news, write blog and magazine articles, take images and footage of conservation work or wildlife spectacles, create engaging social media content, lead on campaigns, create communications materials for colleagues and liaise with the press to organise radio and television features – including a BBC Countryfile feature!

Please highlight a conservation issue you are particularly interested in:

Plastic pollution, especially our reliance on single-use plastics. It’s deeply alarming that most of the plastics we use during our lives will outlive us, even when a product may have only been used for seconds!

What can people do you help with this issue?

Individuals can really make a difference in reducing their plastic footprint. From avoiding single use plastics where possible and recycling to using re-usable products or even finding or making alternatives. I recently had a go at making my own eco-friendly cleaning products from plastic-free ingredients! There are tons of resources online if you are looking to get creative and be more environmentally conscious.

How does wildlife comms contribute to wildlife conservation?

One of my favourite David Attenborough quotes is “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they haven’t experienced.” My communications role enables me to educate and inspire people, helping them to understand and experience all the wonderful wildlife and wild places we have in Essex, giving them the tools and hopefully plenty of reasons to therefore want to protect them. The thought that even one person could create a hedgehog highway in their fence after a social media post I had created, or spend more time outside enjoying nature after a campaign I had led on or even point out the wildflowers to a friend on a walk after an identification video I had produced, makes me feel like I’m helping more people to ‘experience wildlife’ and feel galvanised to act to protect and conserve it.

What is your greatest achievement?

Sea turtle hatchlings use light and reflections from the moon to find their way to the water at night. During my time spent volunteering for the turtle conservation project in Cyprus, I would stand in the sea on overcast evenings and hold a bright torch above my head during hatchling releases; I got to be the moon! As the visiting public released the tiny flapping hatchlings during the cooler evenings, their little flippers propelled them towards the light I was reflecting off the water’s surface. Witnessing the hopeful visitors, giddy with excitement and feeling the tiny loggerhead and green hatchlings bump clumsily into my submerged legs is a memory that will stay with me forever.

What is your favourite species?

The gentle, lumbering manatee. Also known as the sea cow, this giant herbivore ‘had me at hello’.

What advice do you have for people wanting to pursue a career in wildlife communications?

Volunteer where possible and say yes to opportunities as you never know how the experience will help you in the future. At university I was a social media representative for NatureWatch; a student led documentary team that documented Cornish environments, the diverse wildlife and interviewed local experts with hopes to engage the public with current conservation issues faced in the area. I also welcomed the opportunity to provide updates on university platforms about the field course to Costa Rica as well as producing a film to engage and educate followers and promote the university and course to prospective students. Both opportunities developed my communication skills and made me more suitable for the role at Essex Wildlife Trust.

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