Giving a Voice to the Voiceless: Kate on Conservation

Blogging gives everyone a chance to talk about the issues concerning them. You can use your blog to campaign, educate, or simply to share. 

March 3 is the official UN World Wildlife Day 2020 —  designed to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. This message is also the driving force behind the blog Kate on Conservation. As Kate describes it, her blog gives a voice to the voiceless.

Since Kate started her blog nine years ago she has won a prestigious Animal Star Award, the highly commended prize in the UK Blog Award’s Green & Eco category, and the judge’s first runner-up prize for Travel Blogger of the Year 2020 — for which she won two eco-tours to Costa Rica and Peru.

We talked to Kate about establishing a successful issue-centered blog.

Courtesy of Kate on Conservation.

You wanted to start a blog to raise conservation awareness. What successes have you seen?

The blog has really been the anchor of my own networks and career in conservation education — I’ve made many friends and met many of my conservation role models through my blog. I began getting invited to various PR events related to my field — including campaign launches, book signings, and political debates. For example,  I met Dr. Jane Goodall through her Roots & Shoots program, and Sir David Attenborough through the Environment Trust for Richmond.

Meeting David Attenborough. Courtesy of Kate on Conservation.

I know for a fact the blog has encouraged others to join protest marches, following my post about my own experience of joining a demo against the capture and slaughter of dolphins at Taiji Cove in Japan, and I’ve had people tell me that before reading my blog they’d never heard of canned lion hunting or realized that they too may have encountered this industry while in South Africa. It’s particularly heart-warming when I hear people are now supporting a specific NGO I’d mentioned, or are following a specific animal’s story after reading my posts. 

It was actually a blog post I’d written and shared about Born Free Foundation that led one of the charity’s founders to reach out to me, and invite me to become more involved with their work. Eventually, that’s evolved to my serving on the Board of Trustees for Born Free, and I’ve been involved in conservation solutions at a much higher level than I’d ever imagined.

Canned Lion Demonstration. Courtesy of Kate on Conservation.

You have a lot of guest blogs on your site. Why did you start inviting other people to contribute? 

I think it’s important to work together in the conservation world; it’s a complicated network of issues and solutions, and I believe that many voices, each bringing their own experiences and expertise, can help to reach more people and spread the message wider. 

Although not my primary goal — if you can arrange backlinks between yourself and the guest post author, it can also help your site traffic, and hopefully being linked on my site has given other bloggers and conservationists an extra reach. I’m hoping to write a few more guest posts of my own, for other sites in the coming year.

What other methods do you use to connect to your audience?

I think as a blogger, you have to think in terms of making connections and networks as an individual. The difference between a traditional blog and a news outlet, for example, is that the blogger is always at the center; the copywriter for a media organization can remain anonymous behind the brand if they choose. 

If people are coming to your blog, there’s a good chance they’re there for you. I try to be as personable (and accountable!) as possible through my social media; supporting and encouraging others in the same field, and striking a balance between sharing facts and information, personal updates and engagement posts that give others the chance to share their own thoughts and experiences. Like my blog itself, I see it all as a communal and collaborative space.

Kate Stephenson. Courtesy of Kate on Conservation.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start a website on an issue they are passionate about?

I’d say just go for it, and when you’re starting out, say “yes” to as many opportunities as possible. You don’t know where they’ll lead, who you might meet, and what you may learn. I think it helps to have a niche, so don’t be afraid to position yourself somewhere that’s a bit different from everyone else; you’ll attract the right people and can become an expert in that field. 

Today is World Wildlife Day: a day for highlighting the needs of the world’s wildlife.  How would you suggest contributing to helping conservation? 

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Sustaining all life on Earth,” which is of course about biodiversity and connects to Goal 15 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Life on Land. This goal is very much about supporting our forests and ancient woodlands. 

I would encourage everyone who wants to help to look and see if there are any local tree-planting initiatives near them and give them some support. Join in and plant a tree, or look at organizations like the Woodland Trust, who can advise you on how to plant your own tree to the best effect. Consider joining an environmental campaign to support our ancient woodlands, or simply go outside for a walk. The best way to appreciate nature and wildlife is to immerse yourself in it. Pay attention to the wildlife you see (or the lack of it in some cases!) — it may inspire you to find your own personal way of contributing.

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