Inspirational Woman: Beth Blood | Founder & CEO, On the Edge Conservation

Beth BloodBeth Blood is an environmentalist, advocate for better understanding of biodiversity and, a champion for wildlife conservation.

Beth holds a BA in Economics from La Trobe University in Melbourne. She moved to the UK in 2011, where she obtained a Masters degree in International Strategy and Diplomacy from the London School of Economics.

In addition to her leadership role at On the Edge Conservation, she is an Honorary Conservation Fellow of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and a Trustee of the UK Human Rights Watch Charitable Trust.

Tell us a bit about background, yourself and your current role?

I’m Founder & CEO On the Edge Conservation (OTEC) – a London-based organisation committed to promoting biodiversity through the unheard voices and untold stories of nature’s most Evolutionary Distinct Globally-Endangered species, or EDGE species.

9/10 of the most endangered EDGE species receive little or no conservation attention and yet they are an irreplaceable part of the world’s evolutionary heritage, representing an entire branch of the tree of life. Many possess extraordinary looks, behaviours and traits not seen in any other species – providing us ample material to tell fun and interesting stories about them and making them ambassadors for all of biodiversity.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely! But this was in no way part of the plan. In my late 30’s I was given the opportunity to follow my passion, which I discovered was animals, and so I did. My life is now dedicated to striving for a world in which wildlife and humanity can co-exist in a balanced and sustainable way.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

There have been plenty but once you discover what your passion is it’s difficult to do anything else, no matter how many challenges come your way.

At OTEC, we act to promote biodiversity by working to change the outlook for the often over-looked, curious looking, EDGE species. Support for conservation and promotion of biodiversity still focuses almost exclusively on a few charismatic species using little-changed conservation messaging.

Through our particular approach to storytelling, we are making people care about our featured EDGE species – the Kakapo, Aye-Aye, Numbat, Purple Frog and Pangolin, as ambassadors for all biodiversity! And in turn, we are lobbying for legislative funding and support for their survival.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Developing a different approach to addressing conservation and biodiversity challenges. Part of what sets us apart from other organisations is how we combine hard conservation science with more playful means of engaging with our audiences – we believe that there is an environmental activist in everyone and OTEC wants to provide the inspiration to unlock it. It’s possible to create ‘care’ for EDGE species by telling their extraordinary stories in accessible, uplifting ways while tackling the serious issue of conservation at the same time.

We’ve launched the first in a series of mobile app games – Kakapo Run is out now and available on App Store and Google Play Store. By making the kakapo the hero of our first game, we are allowing millions of people the chance to meet a new fine-feathered friend. The challenge and the opportunity is to evolve mobile app gamers into activists.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Having a genuine passion in what you do is invaluable. I believe that is the main factor in achieving success. When you are invested in your mission and goal, your motivation is endless. Setbacks don’t stop you.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is critically important. I’ve been lucky to have had many incredible mentors. I owe each one of them a great deal of gratitude. In my own work, I’d like to believe I champion members of my team and encourage them to bring their enthusiasm and energy in all they do, but that is for them to say.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

If I could change one thing, it’d be that everyone – regardless of gender – is allowed to follow a career path that’s motivated by their own passions first-and-foremost and the educational curriculum is written in a gender neutral style. At school, and even beyond, there’s a very narrow spectrum of careers that most people are made aware of.

That’s one of the reasons why OTEC is engaging the next generation – with Kakapo Run and our #AnimalEDGEucation resources – to inspire them to consider a career in conservation when the time does eventually come to make decisions about further study or work.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Try not to let fear get in your way and never stop exploring; the more people you meet, places you visit and things you learn, the more opportunities you’ll encounter! And always stay connected to nature.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

As a champion for conserving and co-existing with wildlife, I challenge myself to live a sustainable lifestyle and try to integrate that ethos into my working life. It’s not always easy, but it is incredibly important. Due to human activity, current rates of extinction are between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than ever before.

As an organisation, OTEC’S goal is to change the outlook for these extraordinary EDGE creatures through a combination of conservation, science and storytelling. Yes, that means making them famous!  Our initiatives include mobile gaming apps and educational activities for children and families – we look forward to continuing to expand our initiatives to inspire more and more people.

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