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Action Indonesia: An educator’s perspective

by Jamie Jackson, Youth Development Coordinator, Audubon Nature Institute

Jamie Jackson is the Youth Development Coordinator at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Earlier this year, Jamie started working with the Education Working Group. Here, she tells us about her involvement in the second Action Indonesia GSMP Workshop in February, as well as highlighting the importance of the Education Working Group in awareness raising for these species.

As a conservation educator working in the zoo field, I know a little about a lot of species and environmental issues, but I wouldn’t say that I am an expert on any single one. At the 2018 Action Indonesia GSMP Workshop, I found myself sur-rounded by some of the world’s leading experts on anoa, babirusa, banteng, and the Sumatran tiger. Being welcomed by this group as a peer was both exhilarating and anxiety-induc-ing.

Have you ever been in a situation and thought, “How did I get here?” Sitting in a population management meeting, I realised how much I still had to learn. It is astounding how much research, data collection, behaviour assessment, and time goes in to trying to save a species. At first, I questioned what I could do to sup-port this enormous mission; until be-ing nominated for this project, I had never even heard of an anoa. How-ever, as I listened to other working groups determine breeding recommendations and analyse nutritional assessments, I realized that I’m not supposed to know all these things. My strengths lie not in mastering all the minutiae, but in painting the big picture. I can capture the attention of those who relate to the anoa’s “small, but mighty” approach to life. I can spark the imagination of someone who has never heard of a pig-deer with teeth growing out of the front of his skull. I can wow people with the reality that “yes, a cow can be endangered.” I can enamour others with the beauty and grace of a fierce predator. Most of all, I can inspire people to care; even if they will never get a chance to see those animals in their lifetime.

Inspiration and empowerment are the weapons of choice in the Edu-cation Working Group. We are charged with telling the Action Indonesia species’ stories and spreading awareness about their plight. We have the unique opportunity to work across all four species simultaneously, which allows us to take an integrated approach and craft unified, cohesive messages for international communities. For 2019, the Education Working group is planning an Action Indonesia awareness day to take place concurrently in North America (AZA), Eu-rope (EAZA), and Indonesia (PKBSI) utilizing a shared hashtag, social media content, activities, and resources. While slightly different pieces of the story will be told in each region – Sumatran tigers have a very different reputation in Europe and North America than in Indonesia, for example – the goal remains the same: we share our planet with these creatures and they need our help. As we move forward in the planning process, I am excited about the collaboration, mentorship, and capacity-building opportunities among international partners, and the magnified impact this campaign will have as more and more facilities sign on to host the action day.

At the end of September, I will head to the annual AZA conference in Seattle, Washington where I will, again, be in a conference centre full of experts in the zoo and conservation field. This time, however, I will be representing the Education Working Group and promoting the Action Indonesia awareness day. I will take courage in being part of this group of inspiring, dedicated, and enthusiastic conservation educators. Words are our weapons and we will wield them to give voice to our species and our work.

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