West Coast Fires, Climate Change, and Tinder: Laura and Kelsey Talk Nova Conservation

West Coast Fires, Climate Change, and Tinder: Laura and Kelsey Talk Nova Conservation

The following is taken from a Facebook Live event that occurred September 8, 2020. Founder Laura Marsh and Kelsey Bernard talk about why the world needs Nova Conservation.

Laura: As a biologist its been hard to find work that is consistent and that pays well. Conservation needs another stream of revenue. We‘re trying to make a career in conservation an economically viable option.

Kelsey hops on. Kelsey is streaming from her workplace in Washington state, where evacuations are beginning to take place. They briefly discuss the fires in Washington state and CA. Many of the small towns near where Kelsey attended college have experienced significant damage.

 One can’t help but connect these tragic events to the ongoing need for an all-hands-on-deck approach to wildlife conservation.

Laura: And that brings us back to why I want to talk about Nova Conservation. I like to tell people that I’m a “tree hugger” because I care about PEOPLE. The overall goal of environmentalism and conservation isn’t necessarily that we want to save like one slug or something. [Laughs] We want to protect ecosystems for the well-being of people – ALL people – for future generations.


Laura mentions her 2 children. She starts to get emotional as she muses on the fact that poor countries, such as those in Africa, that will be hit the hardest economically by climate change. Hard realities like this are why Laura was drawn to conservation in the first place.


Kelsey came to conservation indirectly, by way of her Zoology degree from WSU. She is incredibly vocal about her passion for wolves (you can follow her on Instagram @abettertomorrowblog) and wants to help give the public a better working knowledge of these commonly misunderstood predators.

 Kelsey: As I grew as a student I came to know more of where my heart was. The first person I worked with was Dr. Charles Robbins – he‘s the director of our Grizzly Bear Facility on campus. Dr. Robert Weilgus was my first professor (regarding wolf studies). I’ve been extremely lucky to be taken under wings.

Many others in various conservation fields have not been so lucky.


Kelsey: You have to have very special connections. Especially in a field like wolf studies that is very specialized, your chances of coming across people who have the time and energy to take you in and teach you…it’s very rare.


Anyone in the environmental conservation world will agree that this is a problem. Connections can be very hard to make, and the field experience that is needed for many undergraduate and graduate students to acquire the jobs they want is difficult to come by. Laura Marsh is the first conservation scientist to address this problem head on. Nova Conservation’s website will have a the first ever one-stop-shop job board that connects students with researchers in the field.


Laura: If you’re interested in wolves, or sea turtle research, or coral reef biology, and you don’t have the connections you need in your sphere of influence, you’ll be able to log on to our site and connect with researchers in an easy way.

 Nova Conservation not only serves young conservation career hopefuls- it serves the seasoned researcher as well.

Laura: Researchers don’t have time to answer every email that comes their way. We make it easy for them to find vetted volunteers, paid and unpaid interns, or whatever help they need by simply their posting research opportunities to our site.


This is what makes Nova Conservation truly unique. Never before has a website existed that seeks to match conservation and environmental science students with professionals in the field. And it doesn‘t stop there.


Laura: We recognize that there are also many people out there who are lifestyle conservationists- people who care about the environment and would like to get involved but don’t know how. On our website we want to share opportunities to pick up trash, pull weeds, and any other service opportunity that might be out there. No matter your skill level, you’ll have the opportunity to find something that suits your interests and needs.


Read Your Next Vacation Can Help Save The Planet

Laura stops to answer an audience question. They are interested in helping with Australia’s rehabilitation efforts. Laura says that she does have one loose connection, but is very hopeful to have more soon. Australia’s current wildlife crisis is a great example of why Nova Conservation is needed. People who want to use their skills to provide aid when and where it is needed will have a much easier time doing so.


Laura: The current system of finding any environmental jobs right now- the best website [in the U.S.] to go to is Texas A&M’s job board. It‘s a great resource to have, but the search function is very limited. Nova Conservation’s website will allow companies and non-profits to search for potential workers by skill and experience. No more weeding through a pile of resumes!


This is seriously such a needed thing and I’m so stoked about it. I’ve thought, “someone needs to make a better Texas A&M“ or “someone need to update the search functionality”…we’re doing it!


Laura has been both employer and employee, so she understands both sides of this equation. But now more than ever she understands how difficult it can be for companies to find the right people to bring on board.


Laura: If you are a non-profit, a researcher, or an eco-tourism company, reach out to us. Partner with us. You’ll get vetted volunteers and really great biologists to help you with your conservation projects. Once our website launches October 1st, we will offer free posting to our job board for the rest of 2020.


And then the other side of this is the benefit for the individual, which will really be exponential. The experience gained from learning about bee-keeping, bird banding, trail maintenance, native plants, etc. is invaluable. You’ll share it with other people you know, and the positive impact for our planet will just explode from there.


Read You Can Make a Pollinator Habitat in Your Yard

A couple financial questions come through from audience members.


Is this going to be a fee-based site?


Laura: Yes. If look by using our site you are successfully matched with an experience, you will pay what we call a “finder’s fee.” The finder’s fee enables us to do the work necessary to make sure that any company or experience you are matched with is ethically sound- safe for the environment and safe for you! It‘s not just a Google search!


It really comes back to this: I want people to see how valuable it is to give back to nature. Nova Conservation is a company that’s going to generate revenue for ecological preservation.I’m not in this to make money. I want to give all the proceeds we make back to the field. I’m covering overhead, staff, website design, and hopefully we won’t be taking too much from you. I hold true to that value!


Does Nova Conservation have backing partners already?


Laura: Yes! Some of our current partners are Jennie of the Jungle, Life Net Nature, and various Audubon Societies (Chattanooga, Georgia, and Alabama). We are adding more partners every day, so be sure to check out our “partner spotlights” on Instagram!


We make it easy for you to partner with us: Fill out this short, 5-question form if you’re interested! And if you have questions, you can contact me directly!


Laura says Nova Conservation is like “Tinder for conservationists,” and she and Kelsey can’t help but laugh. Both women have their own romantic visions of the kind of environmental experiences that might open up for them personally through Nova Conservation’s platform. For Laura, ever since she was a child, it has been her dream to be a marine biologist in the Great Barrier Reef.


Laura: I have yet to go to Australia, so I‘m hoping Nova Conservation will be able to organize a trip out there and make that happen!


If you are like Laura, and you dream of environmental adventures that give back to the planet, follow along with us on our journey!


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Jewels of the Earth: 4 Stunning Rainforests That Need To Be On Your Bucket List

Jewels of the Earth: 4 Stunning Rainforests That Need To Be On Your Bucket List

Due to the coronavirus and worldwide lockdown, we can’t get on a plane right now and go travel to these incredible places. So instead, let’s discover them the next best way- virtually! 

Did you know? Rainforests are found on every continent except Antarctica.

The beauty of the natural world never ceases to amaze me. Whether I step out my front door to go about my day or I’m hiking a trail, there are countless natural wonders that capture my attention and curiosity. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in thinking that rainforests are one of the most awe-inspiring, amazing, magical places on earth. And in this post, I want to talk about why rainforests deserve a standing ovation.

Rainforests are not just incredibly beautiful, bucket-list-worthy places to travel to; they also play a huge role in keeping our planet healthy. They are responsible for regulating the climate by continuously recycling huge amounts of water that feed rivers and lakes. Without them, droughts would become more common leading to widespread famine and disease.

I’ll bet you’ll be surprised to learn that tropical rainforests contains over 30 million species of plants and animals. That’s half of the Earth’s wildlife, and at least two-thirds of its plant species!


But the craziest part is that scientists haven’t even discovered all the different species living in rainforests. There are millions more that are just waiting to be discovered.


And if you aren’t impressed enough already, wait till you hear that rainforests are Earth’s oldest living ecosystem. Yup! Some are at least 70 million years old. Mind equals blown.

You can create a tiny rainforest in your own home!


A few more fun facts about rainforests:

  • More than 25% of our modern medicine originates from tropical rainforests.

  • Many common houseplants are the same species that make up rainforest ecosystems!

  • It’s not just tropical: there are many beautiful temperate rainforests found in cooler, generally coastal areas.

Tropical or temperate, there is truly no place on earth that compares to a rainforest. If you’re like me, you’re ready to pack your bag and go. But where to start?

PNW’s Coastal Gem: The Olympic Rainforest


Known for its progressive natural world preservation and environmentally-friendly legislation, Costa Rica is an ideal volunteering destination for nature lovers. Many volunteers join conservation efforts that allow them to make genuine contributions toward protecting Costa Rica’s stunning landscape and wildlife. In fact, this Central American gem is home to 4.5% of the entire planet’s biodiversity!

 Adventure calls!

If adventure is what you’re after, venture to this country’s national parks such as Corcovado and Manuel Antonio. Other popular adventure travel destinations include Monteverde, Montezuma, and Fortuna. Many of these locations have environmental projects, such as organic coffee farms and wildlife rehabilitation centers, which are an amazing way to get involved while you enjoy your travels to this gorgeous country.


Tortuguero National Park is dubbed “The Amazon of Costa Rica” for good reason: It encompasses 11 different habitats: mangrove, rainforest, rivers, canals, and lagoons. The area is also a popular nesting site for many Leatherback and Green Sea Turtles. In fact, La Tortuga Feliz is a non-profit that aims to protect sea turtles with the help of volunteers. Poaching turtles (and their eggs) as a source of income is illegal, and La Tortuga Feliz makes sure volunteers and locals work together to patrol the beach and care for recuperating turtles in the rescue and rehabilitation center.


Want to hang out with sloths? The Sloth Institute‘s mission is to enhance and expand the welfare and conservation of sloths through research and education. Their programs aim to negate human encroachment issues impacting sloth welfare and habitat.


Just a sloth cutie hanging around!

For those looking to make a career in conservation, then you might be interested in the Sloth Institute’s six-month volunteer internship program! Yes, you’ll be hot, sweat, wet, eaten up by mosquitos, sore and tired, but if you feel that there is no other place in the world you’d rather be than watching sloths in the jungle, then this is for you!


Costa Rica has so much to offer: from the Jaguar Rescue Center to Chilamate Rainforest Eco-Retreat. No matter what project you choose, volunteering in Costa Rica is extremely rewarding and will make a lasting impact where it matters most. And Nova Conservation’s new website will be there every step of the way to help you find the perfect eco-tourism option for you. Be sure to sign up for our emails to stay in the loop!


Connect with the Land in Australia’s Daintree Rainforest


Let’s (virtually) travel from Central America to Australia. The Daintree is the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. In fact, Daintree is so beautiful that it was the inspiration for the movie Avatar.

 What. A. View.

When Sir David Attenborough says it’s “the most extraordinary place on Earth,” you know its good. I mean, come on, it’s the only place on earth where two World Heritage sites meet: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef! Head to Cape Tribulation to take the famous ferry across the Daintree River, where travelers can expect to cruise into pure bliss. You might even spot a crocodile or an endangered cassowary during your journeys.


The cassowary is a flightless bird that can stand up to 6 1/2 feet tall!

It’s a must to take an authentic guided walking tour with the Aboriginal Kuku Yalanji people. You’ll learn traditions that have been passed down for more than 9,000 years like spearfishing and foraging for bush foods. You’ll experience first-hand the connection Kuku Yalanji people share with the land — a lesson we all could use.


And if you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping in a treehouse in a rainforest, then you’re going to want to stay at Silk Oaks Lodge, a luxury eco-lodge. The lodge offers a range of activities ranging from helicopter tours to an award-winning spa that specializes in natural therapies.


Want to help protect the Daintree? Rainforest Rescue is a not-for-profit organization that has been protecting and restoring rainforests in Australia and internationally since 1999. Their projects re-establish rainforests through planting, maintenance, and restoration programs, as well as purchasing and protecting high conservation value rainforests.

The non-profit Tourism Tropical North Queensland will help you plan your trip

Their latest mission, Daintree Vision 2040, is an effort to buy back all remaining threatened rainforest properties in the Daintree. Volunteers wanting to get involved are in luck: They will tailor your skills and find projects suited just for you!


The Daintree Rainforest is a trip that checks off all the boxes that make up the perfect #ConservationVacation. With the launch of our new site in October, Nova Conservation is ready to connect you to these incredible places.


Explore PNW’s Coastal Gem: The Olympic Rainforest


Traveling back across the Pacific, you’ll find the Olympic Rainforest: the world’s most expansive temperate rainforest and one of North America’s most iconic landscapes.

Gorgeous capture by Nova’s own Kelsey Bernard

For any Twilight fans out there, you might be familiar with the Olympic Rainforest region. It is, after all, the same place Bella Swan described as being a green alien land (which, looking at these pictures, seems pretty accurate!)


Forget vampires: It’s here in Washington that real environmental conservation efforts are being made.

 Aquatic ecologist Emily Howe on a Clearwater tributary. ©Hannah Letinich

The Clearwater Forest Reserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy, is focused on practicing sustainable, ecological forestry principles to experiment, restore, and provide natural resource resiliency. Conservancy foresters and ecologists are planting trees, restoring important salmon and wildlife habitat, and implementing sustainable practices to restore these forests.


Looking to get involved in citizen science? You can volunteer to hike to locations in the Olympic National Park to record data about the declining number of Olympic marmots within the park.


If you only have a few hours, you can still help! Why not join a beach cleanup to beautify the Olympic coastline? Olympic National Park partners with Washington CoastSavers for two annual cleanup events. If you’re visiting the area during the summer, take some time out to help conservation on your vacation.


The Tongass Temperate Rainforest : Alaska’s Crown Jewel


If experiencing true wilderness is on your bucket list then a visit to Tongass National Forest is for you! This 17 million acre-stretch of Alaskan Wilderness is considered to be one of the last remaining intact temperate rainforests in the world. The Tongass is an island archipelago where you can view eagles, bears, salmon, whales, and wildlife galore! Hike or take a sled-dog ride on a glacier, fish in streams or the ocean, and then relax at a remote cabin.


Sound like a dream come true? It is!


Alaska’s expansive wilderness is facing mining and oil drilling pressures

Unfortunately, Alaska’s crown jewel is in serious danger.

The Tongass, dubbed the “lungs of the country” is a major carbon absorber and essential in the fight against climate change. But President Trump is moving full speed to strip Bristol Bay, even after scientists found it would result in “complete loss of fish habitat” from lack of environmental protection. Decisions from the Trump administration are expected to be made soon on whether or not this 20 square mile mining operation, known as Pebble Mine, will be permitted in the heart of Alaska.


To add insult to injury, the administration approved a plan to open up 1.6 million acres of the Coastal Plain in the neighboring Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development, as well as plans to lift restrictions on logging in the Tongass.


This will not stand. Go here to write to our president and your local representatives.

Another way you can contribute is to is to turn your next vacation into a give-back trip. Tongass National Forest welcomes volunteers of all backgrounds and ages. Depending on your length of stay, volunteers and interns contribute to forest activities such as counting birds, maintaining hiking trails, restoring watersheds, and serving as campground hosts.
 As you can see, rainforests do a number of cool things for us. And I didn’t even get to mention all the others (I didn’t forget about you, Amazon).

These incredible regions are a source of fascination and incredible importance. However, the biggest threat to rainforests is both direct and indirect human-caused destruction.


The good news is you can help the rainforests and the wildlife living in them. And the next time you’re planning a vacation, consider traveling to the rainforest to witness nature’s jewels for yourself.


Nova Conservation is working hard to build a website that allows you to find the #conservationvacation that’s right for you: Let us know where you want to travel here!


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