Conservation issues regarding the world’s environment and all of its wild inhabitants has been recognized as early as 1662 in John Evelyn’s work Sylva, published by the Royal Society. In the United States, conservation and preservation became a highly politicized issue in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. In 2018, conservation is still largely influenced through politics; political agendas trying to erect huge barriers for wildlife, lack of funding, and a lack of political support all make conservation of our planet a formidable task.
One of conservation’s main proponents, Theodore Roosevelt, is responsible for many of the national parks, national monuments, and national wildlife refuges throughout the U.S. This includes William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, located a short drive south of Corvallis, Oregon, where my journey begins.
Sitting on the shores of Lake Yellowstone in late summer of 2013, all I could think about was the different wildlife I had seen over the past few days. In those moments, I was hoping that by trip’s end I would get to see one of the famed Yellowstone wolf packs (unfortunately, that didn’t happen). As I was finishing my last final exam for a Bachelor’s of Arts in history during that trip, the realization dawned on me: I had chosen the wrong career path. Aspirations of becoming a high school history teacher or a historian at a famed museum like the American Museum of Natural History were at the forefront of my mind. Over the next few years I came to understand that those paths were not the ones I ultimately wanted to take. It took a few years and some winding roads, from an orchard in my hometown, to New Jersey where my wife went to school, and back to Oregon again, for me to finally decide that I needed to go back to school to follow the dream that was realized in that national park in 2013.
The summer of 2016 was the second beginning of my life as a conservationist. Enrolled in the Fisheries and Wildlife program at Oregon State University, I was just a few short years from beginning a career in wildlife conservation. However, before I graduated (for a second time) I knew I wanted to participate in an international internship, experiencing conservation across the world and learning how professionals in this field conduct their work in different countries.
This brings us to the present. I will be spending 12 weeks living in Cape Town, South Africa, working with the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET). My primary assignment will be on the Gantouw Project. Through this blog, I will share not only my experiences working with CTEET, but I will also offer a glimpse of my life in Cape Town.