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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