When it comes to conservation, it seems to me that there are so many amazing individuals out there fighting to make a difference. Whether that’s through a public role, behind the scenes, or even just through volunteering time, the more voices who stand up for our planet, the better.
One such person is Krissy Middleton, known online as ‘Conservationist Krissy‘. A passionate ambassador for the world’s wildlife, she’s taken on subjects like plastic pollution, species extinction and how to live sustainably for her blog. Her Instagram channel is fantastic; filled with amazing, high quality photos which perfectly echo the sentiments of her blog posts.
Curious to find out more, and keen to shine a well-deserved spotlight on people making waves in conservation, I interviewed the lovely lady to find out more about her and gain a little more knowledge about the world around us.
WILDLIFE WEDNESDAY: ‘Beach Blonde’ Interview with ‘Conservationist Krissy’
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about you?
It’s always hard to know where to start.
After studying sports science for a year, working in finance for 4 years, and then backpacking through Australia and SE Asia for 12 months, I finally mustered up the courage to go back to university and ‘chase my dream’.
Three years later I have my degree under my belt, and I am one month into my masters in Conservation and Biodiversity. People always ask what it is I want to do when I finish, or what am I most interested in – I still hate that question, because I have too many interests and goals. I do know for certain that I want to make as big a difference in this world as I can.
No matter how many times I fail I’ll keep pushing until I’ve had a positive impact. I am a big believer in community engagement and education as tools for conservation, I am passionate about reducing plastic pollution, and I’m really interested in the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, and human-wildlife conflict – so…any suggestions on which way I should go with all this? 😉
Q: When did you first become interested in conservation?
I always answer this question the same – I cannot remember a defining moment where I realised I wanted to work in conservation. I’ve been infatuated with wildlife since I was a nipper (ask my mum), I have always cared for the environment because it’s how I was raised and I believe it’s our responsibility to do so, and the philanthropist in me has been there since before I can recall.
Q:What made you decide to take a Masters in Conservation and Biodiversity?
From a young age I always thought that the natural progression after high school was sixth form, university, and then postgraduate study – there were no two ways about it, that was the route I would take…
But aside from that, the conservation world is an extremely competitive place and I believe an MSc will not only enhance my career prospects, but the skills and knowledge you gain from postgraduate study are invaluable for a career in conservation.
Q: Why did you decide to start your blog ‘Conservationist Krissy’ and what has the feedback been since starting?
After starting my degree I decided I wanted to pass on all the lessons I was learning and hopefully inspire others to become conservationists. So, I took the plunge – I don’t have millions of viewers or anything but I have had some really great feedback, particularly amongst the Instagram community. I am really pleased to have inspired a number of people to learn more about conservation and even make sustainable lifestyle choices – that’s all I want.
Moreover, writing a blog simply enables you to practice your writing, build a portfolio of sorts, and possibly get yourself noticed – I hope to work in science communication one day and believe this is a good place to start.
Q: I love travelling and I know there are some beautiful places out there with high levels of biodiversity. Out of the places you’ve visited so far, what’s your favourite place and why?
I’m totally torn because my experiences in each place were just so different (and some were so long ago), but I think I will have to go for Canada. I may well be biased by a lifelong dream to visit, but I fell in love, completely. The mountains are to die for, the people are just amazing, the wildlife (orcas!!!) is breath-taking, and the variety of ecosystems means you can visit rainforest, mountain ranges, grasslands, coastal islands, and cities all in the space of a few days.
(Madagascar, South Africa, and Sumatra come a pretty close 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in no particular order, :P).
Q: Where’s on your bucket list to explore next?
Well, it may not have been next on my bucket list, but I will be travelling to Kenya with university in January for two weeks (I am beyond excited).
I am desperate to go to NZ, though, and Nepal, maybe Borneo, or quite possibly Alaska, HA! Can you tell I’m indecisive?
Q: What is your biggest concern when it comes to conservation?
Again, it is so hard to pick – but, my biggest concern (and it’s a rather large one, encompassing many underlying issues) has to be climate change and sustainability. And the fundamental issue here is of human behaviour. Until we educate the public and alter people’s attitudes, all our work could well be in vain.
Q: What piece of advice would you give someone who is passionate about conservation but doesn’t work in that field?
Being a conservationist isn’t just about having expert knowledge or qualifications. It’s about doing your part to protect your planet. If you don’t have a degree in conservation, then just get involved with campaigning, volunteer for local charities, or simply organise your own beach clean ups. You could even start blogging about issues that are important to you and try influence even just a few people to make a difference themselves.
But, if you are studying, want to study, or are really looking to make a career change, I actually wrote a short blog on some of the ways you can get conservation work experience, and another on the value of volunteering (I know to some people the idea of working for no pay is a little off-putting, but read my post and you’ll understand).
Q: Tell us something we might not know about you?
Hmm…so many random facts I could give you. Which to pick?? Here are three.
1. I struggled with science at school – really struggled (and even now, many aspects of science really challenge me).
2. I am from the small but GORGEOUS island of Guernsey.
3. I suffer from a real lack of confidence and self-belief at times (I was bullied a lot at school). But my mum brought me up tough, and I decided I wouldn’t be beaten, which is possibly why I can be a little feisty.
HUGE thanks to Krissy for taking part in this interview!