April 26, 2023
Telling Conservation Stories through Media
- as seen by -Dave Johnston
A picture is worth a thousand words – with that phrase, it’s clear that, while not everyone imagines a photographer when they hear the term “storyteller”, visual media is an amazing way to communicate about the world. Similarly, not everyone thinks of an educator when they hear the term “storyteller”, but that’s exactly what we are. At the Wildlife Conservation Society, we bring conservation stories from around the world into our classrooms and use them as a jumping-off point to inspire students and teachers to become passionate about conservation.
In addition to photography, video is another amazing strategy to tell stories. In 2017, we launched WCS Presents Field Sight. This site allows us to use videos and photography while telling the conservation stories of our colleagues from around the world. Our first story focused on the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei ssp. Graueri) conservation and taught teachers how to do transects to estimate animal populations. Since then, we’ve partnered with over a dozen of our WCS field teams to tell stories ranging from “Climate Change and Seafood” to “The Importance of Zoo Labs” to “Diverse Perspectives in STEM” to our newest story “Exploring Offshore Wind Energy”. One of my most exciting moments was meeting with our colleagues in WCS Mongolia (landscape with ger, above) to hear about their work and then collaborating to tell a Field Sight story focused on stakeholder needs around sustainable cashmere farming. Our next story will be focused on fighting wildlife crime, and we’ll be partnering with our colleagues in WCS Uganda.
When I started my career as a conservation educator, did I ever expect to be a visual storyteller? No, but when I see the amazing things that our WCS colleagues do, how could I not be inspired to share these stories with my audiences?