Meet Lori Robinson – Based in a small home in the woods in New Mexico, with her second home in Africa, Lori has had a life-long passion for wildlife and wild places. With degrees in environmental studies, biology and psychology, she worked with the Jane Goodall Institute as their Africa Adventures Specialist between 2004-2010. Lori is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers, and writes for various magazines including Africa Geographic and her own site, SavingWild.com. In January this year (2016), she released her second book, ‘Saving Wild’. An inspiring blogger and an author who has brought together 50 voices in conservation and asked them the one important question, ‘How do you stay inspired?’. It is a joy, privilege and honor to have her speak about her Little (Big) Brown Job to us.
Lori, thank you for the love that you have extended to me over the last several months and the hope and inspiration you embody. I am thrilled that people reading this post on Little Brown Jobs will get a chance to know you, the work you do, and how staying positive, sensitive and aware of what surrounds us is the first step towards making a difference. I am certain that we will move one step deeper in our connection to Nature through your experience:
1. You mention in your blog that you grew up in a menagerie in your home. How did that shape your connection to the Earth and its life forms?
I did grow up surrounded by all kinds of animals. We had cats and dogs, but also a goat, rabbits, snakes, a squirrel monkey, skunk, raccoon, and birds as pets. They were part of the family, having pretty much free range of the yard and house. My father is a biologist and keen birder and would take my sister and I into the woods often. There I also learned about and nurtured a deep appreciation for animals and Nature.
2. When you studied biology, environmental studies and psychology – what intention did you carry? Were you sure that you wanted to be in the field of conservation?
My original goal was to work for Jane Goodall, a long time family friend. But that idea was thwarted when there was a kidnapping at her research center. So I switched majors from zoology to ES and Biology hoping to work for an NGO when I graduated. Which I did but I was young and impatient and so sad by all that I was learning about vivisection, factory farming, habitat destruction. I literally came home from work and cried everyday. I decided I was too sensitive to be working to help animals and I quit for awhile. But my heart called me back to the work and now I understand that with determination and consistency change does happen. Meanwhile I am better at taking care of myself so I can handle all the bad news that floods the internet about animals.
3. Jane Goodall is an important person in your life. Can you share how she added value to your journey?
I am fortunate to have known Jane most of my life and to have witnessed her become the amazing conservationist and inspiration to so many people that she is today. What I have learned from her and admire about her is her perseverance. She always says, “we can’t stop trying.” For several years I led members of her organization on tours to Africa to see the famous chimpanzees of Gombe and that was a wonderful job. I began doing a lot of charity work in Africa which continues to this day and now I lead and design tours for people who want to go on safari. It is life changing for my clients.
4. Your blog plays an important role in building awareness about wildlife and conservation. What led you to start this blog? How has it impacted your work, and the people who read it?
Blogging is strange. Bloggers put their heart and soul out there and readers rarely comment so you have to be self determined and focused to keep going. So many bloggers quit. There are not many blogs about wildlife out there so that is one of the reasons I preserve. I originally started my blog to become a better writer about conservation issues. It helped and now I have a book on Amazon and another one being published with an Earth Day 2017 release and I write for other places like Africa Geographic Magazine. And my blog has gained a great following so after several years of working at it the whole thing has an energy of its own now.
5. In your several years of working in this field in various roles, can you share the positive changes you see, and the challenges we also face going forward?
Some days I think we have really made no progress with wildlife conservation especially with the over arching issues of human population growth, and climate change. But mostly I remind myself that we are amazing beings and have the capacity to do whatever we put our minds to. We currently have the technology and understanding of how to stop our current trajectory regarding climate change. Just in the last year we have seen chimps released from medical facilities, circuses around the world announce they will no longer use elephants, seaquariums stating they will no longer keep orcas, the list of good is long. But I am not delusional and know that all of us who love animals must never give up and must each continue to do our part to help.
6. You released your book Saving Wild, Inspiration From 50 Leading Conservationists in February this year. It’s a book every conservationist, activist or anybody working hard to bring about a change, should have by his/her bedside. What led you to write this book?
I tell the story in my introduction to the book of how this book came about. Basically I was in a down state of mind and needed some positivity. Out of curiosity and need I asked Jane Goodall and then other famous conservationists I know to tell me how they stay inspired despite all the negative impact on wildlife and wild places. Their answers were so inspiring to me I wanted to share them with the world. Thus the book!
7. What has changed for you after listening to the 50 conservationists answer your questions?
I think if they, who are mired in the negative issues day after day in their work, can stay inspired, than I can too. The book has helped me stay focused on what needs to be done and readers have written to thank me because the book is helping them as well.
8. Everyone is so busy with their personal and professional work and in meeting the day-to-day demands. What are the small shifts you would like them to make if they are keen to engage in a Little Brown Job here on?
Everyone makes time for what is a priority in their lives. Start in your back yard. Plant natives for the birds, bees, butterflies and other creatures. Take down fences so wildlife has more room, spend more time outside, and know that every creature – spider, snake, raccoon, deer, bear, coyote… has as much right to be here as we humans do.
9. Lori, what are your plans going forward? What more is coming from the creator of SAVING WILD?
I am in the final draft of my next book which is due to the publishers August 1 and will be released for Earth Day 2017. It’s called Wild Lives and tells the stories of 20 amazing conservationists all over the globe who are saving polar bears, penquins, dolphins, cheetah, elephants, lions, giraffes, trees. These people and their lives are amazing and I am super excited about the book.
To read and engage with Lori Robinson, who ensures you stay inspired on your Little Brown Job or to start one, in any small way you can, here are the links:
a. Her amazing blog: The one that resonated with me immediately: SavingWild.com
c. Write to her after reading the blog and book: For someone who works passionately for the Earth, it is always nice to stay connected with them and also build your own community.
Thank you for reading this post. Please do share it with your children, friends, family and anyone who would be inspired in their Little Brown Job.