I recently started a new job, fundraising for a science-based conservation organization. I am loving it. I’m so happy to be doing work that is serving a purpose for Hawaii and the world, and to be working for an organization of its caliber. The boost in pay has been a VERY nice bonus, too!
Fundraising in the environmental space is a new thing for me. Passion about climate change and finding purpose there is also new for me. I’m kind of finding new ways of “being”, moving from the world of academia and ideas to hands-on, community-wide implementation of science-based solutions to real environmental problems. It’s been important to me to process this new purpose as I barrel towards 40 and see myself settling into what I hope is a long-term career — a career very different from what I had imagined or set my heart on.
Luckily, my org offered me just such an opportunity for that kind of introspection. The office is planning a staff retreat and asked everyone to submit an inspirational story about their work at or passion for the company. Since I literally just started a few weeks ago, I decided to submit something a little higher level, about my path to this kind of work, and to my recently-developed passion for environmental work in the face of climate change. I liked how it turned out, so I thought I’d post it here.
“If I had to pick a guiding ethos for my life, it would probably be the old campsite adage ‘Leave it better than you found it.’ (You can take the girl out of Idaho…) For a long time, I mostly applied this adage to people. I wanted to understand others and to take care in all my relationships, whether close or surface, to treat people well and leave them a little better than I found them.
“I expected to do this in my professional life through a career in education at some level, either in English or Philosophy. Science was never on my radar, and was in fact something I specifically removed from my radar (despite a fleeting high school crush on my 8th grade biology teacher).
“It wasn’t until I started working for [university foundation] in 2014 that I got excited about science, and became aware of the multi-faceted, global threat of climate change. I got to learn from some of the best environmental scientists in Hawaii about how human wellbeing is dependent on the health of the environment, and that the wellbeing of the environment is dependent on the informed, healthy behavior of human beings.
“After learning about the true nature, threat, and complexities of climate change, I realized that if I truly want to leave people and places better than I find them, there is no better way to do that than to advance conservation, restoration, and cultural appreciation of the lands and waters where humans live, play, create, feed, and work.
“I feel so lucky to have found fundraising, because it allows me to use my humanities background and talents to participate in the science I have come to value so highly. I have learned so much from philosophy, literature, music, and psychology: how to work and connect with people; how to think critically; what is involved in the human experience; how people process information and situate themselves in the world; why and how to think less anthropocentrically; and how to craft narratives that inspire people to take their personal best, big actions. I have learned from scientists and science how people think; how the human brain works; how people make decisions; how to learn about and come to understand environmental challenges; how to explore and monitor environments ethically; and how to test, discover, and implement real solutions.
“Most importantly, I have learned from both that advances in human and environmental flourishing require everyone to use their individual strengths to work together. At [Organization], I now get to use what I have learned from science and the humanities to work with all kinds of people similarly committed to making Hawaii, the Pacific, and the world a better place for all living creatures. At the risk of invoking Barney Stinson, that’s the dream. I’m absolutely thrilled to be here.”