hey i’m susie, nice to meet ya!
I (she/her) am passionate about finding novel solutions for wildlife conservation which is one of the main motivators behind the creation of #itsawildlife, a platform dedicated to supporting people on their journey to work their dream job in wildlife science or conservation. #itsawildlife aims to collect ideas towards solving the challenges that face not just wildlife, but the passionate people who dedicate their time towards helping them!
my partner, Sam (he/him) and I work in the wildlife conservation space in Australia. I am a field ecologist, science communicator and creator of the blog and podcast, #itsawildlife.
to hear more of our story and the creation of #itsawildlife, scroll down or head to our social media to get in touch and follow our adventures
a bit about me
so, although I’ve always had a passion for the natural world, I wasn’t one of those people who had a clear idea that this was what I would do with life. When I left school, I was kinda all over the place – with no idea who I was, where I wanted to go – and no one to suggest how to start figuring that out.
Serendipitously, during a humpback whale survey, camped on the pindan cliffs of the beautiful Kimberley coastline, I felt a strong purpose and pull for the first time, and changed my degree from nursing to study conservation ecology.
From here, I slowly started to feel my way through the industry – and after years of volunteering, I started to land dream job after dream job:
Guiding whale shark swims, working as a research assistant in Kakadu National Park, interning with threatened species in old-growth mallee woodlands within a feral-proof fence, chopper-ing around the Kimberley, working on surveys, fighting fires and taking bird tours. I completed my thesis after six months of non-stop birdwatching (and non-stop soul-searching) all about the foraging ecology of Caspian Terns in south-western Australia
That’s the more glamorous side of the “wildlife industry” and while we love living and working in remote locations, working for important conservation outcomes, there are some less-glamorous aspects I feel strongly about changing – the high competition for limited funding, degradation of work-life balance and other pressures like low pay, long hours, contract instability and lack of support, especially for entry-level biologists – I see these challenges as accepted parts of the industry when they probably don’t need to be and I am all about breaking down barriers to entry and retention in this field.
For this purpose, I created a blog and podcast #itsawildlife, largely to support people on their journey to work their dream job in wildlife science or conservation (and to combat some of the eco-guilt I feel, growing up in a world of broad-scale biodiversity loss and climate change). The #itsawildlife platform was born in 2022 and I couldn’t be more grateful for what it’s becoming – and excited to keep watching it grow and evolve
the story continues
I often find it hard to share my story during times of transition – uncertainty and imposter syndrome tend to rear their heads.
Sam and I usually live in remote northern Australia working in wildlife conservation and eco-tourism. However in 2022, we took a somewhat-spontaneous gap year to explore new parts of the world and get experience with conservation practices and perspectives further afield
you can keep up with our most recent adventures on Instagram
our top 3 tips for wildlifers
WHEREVER YOU’RE AT IN YOUR JOURNEY
the wildlife space can be a challenging one to navigate, especially early on to get your foot in the door. but even after that, entrenched issues characteristic of passion-driven, under-funded industries like this one including low pay, long hours, contract instability and unrealistic expectations that degrade work-life balance and cause burnout. these conditions challenge the longevity of even the most passionate of wildlifers working in the space, and fuel exhaustion and imposter syndrome. ultimately, this erodes diversity and equality within the space which reduces the opportunities available for everyone.
we created #itsawildlife to support you at every stage of your journey to work with wildlife. it is evolving into a platform to share career advice and inspire your next steps towards what you want most from your career (and the other parts of your life!)
here are 3 of our top tips to get you from wherever you are now to where you want to be:
1. be intentional
I manage the uncertainty and challenges of this space with intentional ecology or taking back your power by finding what makes you tick, what drives you. To do the same, I would start by:
- Get clear on what you want. Keep a field journal with your thoughts and experiences. take the time to examine them to discover what you are most passionate about, what drives you.
- Reflect on your own journey – where you’ve come from and where you want to be. acknowledge your progress and feel gratitude for where you are right now, rather than focusing on what you missed out on or where you haven’t gotten yet.
- Build your self-confidence to feel comfortable in where you’re at in your journey, and acknowledge the skills and experience you have built. This takes practice but is definitely worth doing!
2. live “as if”
i can’t tell you how much i love living as if! for those of you who haven’t come across it before, the basic premise is to think about how your life would be if you were already working your dream job and take steps today that get you towards that.
spend time building your skills, expanding your experiences and nurturing your network to fill the gaps between where you’re at and where you want to be… and watch the magic happen!
3. it starts with you
The climate crisis and widespread destruction of our global biodiversity are big and scary topics to discuss but they can feel even bigger and scarier when you’re observing it first hand in the field, on the frontline so to speak. For me, being born within this context has a huge amount of emotion attached to it: anger, resentment, heartbreak, motivation to make change and also hope. Hope that we can help to make nature a greener and more abundant place.
Maybe I’m the only one but does anyone else have these feelings when trying to contextualize the scale of the impact we can make for helping the environment?
Unlike i once thought, you don’t have to wait for a job to make a positive change for nature. after all, doing something, however small is still something – your voice and your actions are powerful
From my experience, I have three tips to combat your own eco-anxiety, or climate guilt, or whatever else it gets called:
- Appreciate the beauty you see in nature. When we admire the birds on a bird feeder or the insects that come to our flower pots or the beautiful landscapes or wildlife we experience, we feel hope.
- Dedicate yourself to making a difference. Whether this is through a job in conservation or volunteer work, there are so many projects dedicated to improving the story for wildlife that you can be part of.
- Advocate for nature. Be it through conversation, on social media, with your credit card or with your vote you can support nature through the choices you make as an individual – and with your voice, to raise awareness of both issues that need support as well as the good work being done for wildlife.
we’d love to hear from ya!
having fun? why not follow along for the adventure! subscribe for monthly updates and check ins on where you’re at – and follow us on social media.
we’d love to hear from you so be brave, reach out and get in touch if you’d like to share your story or have a question. you can flick us an email or follow our adventures on social media – shoot us a dm on Instagram to get in touch.
and above all, thank you for being here to hang out at #itsawildlife, we’re so grateful you’re here and can’t wait to see where you go from here! all the best xxox
a massive thank you
i want to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which i have lived, worked and travelled over, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.
I feel so lucky to have been mentored and inspired by so many incredible ecologists who have supported me, encouraged me and shown me where I could take my career (that is, anywhere you like!).
There were so many people early on in my journey who put up with my energy levels on remote field trips, shared their knowledge and took a chance on hiring me – I am so grateful to all of those people who have since inspired me to do the same. Special mention should probably go to Helen Crisp and Angela Bowman at Australian Wildlife Conservancy, my Honours supervisors Dr Claire Greenwell, Professor Neil Loneragan and Dr Nic Dunlop and my partner, Sam, whose shoulders I have stood on to stretch for goals I could never have reached without.