“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)… That’s us together with you!
We founded EwA mid 2015, and are working hard at developing its mission. It’s pure volunteer work on our part at this point for most of us, so be patient… At this point EwA’s website is still a prototype site. But we are getting there! Our goal is to develop EwA to its full potential so that we realize our vision.
Born in France. Claire lived in Canada in the 90s before moving to the US where she has been residing since then. Claire is a scientist trained in mathematical statistics, probabilities, and computer sciences. Until February 2016, when not working on EwA, she led an Artificial Intelligence R&D organization at an international information technology company. An organization that she created and developed to a full-fledged successful product and consulting organization.
Her science background (in domains of expertise reliably used in conservation fields), her leadership and technical innovation career along with the nature and wildlife conservation citizen science or volunteering projects that she has been involved with for more than a decade gave her the vision, the will and the discipline to create EwA.
“I travel a lot as an eco and wildlife traveler as well as a citizen scientist and volunteer. I’ve visited a lot of wildlife venues and I have contributed to so many great conservation missions. I had the pleasure to meet wonderful, dedicated nature enthusiasts, conservationists and scientists along the way, many of those whom I became friends with.
I have also witnessed a fair share of poorly managed projects and venues in general; More than I wanted to, I volunteered for and visited few questionable organizations; I have made mistakes myself out of ignorance, as well as I observed few entitled, badly trained travelers, volunteers and leaders.
Years of these mixed experiences shared with other conservationists, experts and volunteers made me realize how ‘wild’ and un-monitored eco-volunteering and eco-traveling has become; how hard it is to sort it all out; and how misinformed and unprepared conservation volunteers and leaders can be.
Nature traveling / volunteering is a wonderful way to experience the world, learn from other cultures and give back. I wish many more people to join the effort, but it also has to be designed and managed ethically, responsibly, so as to not undo the benefits with recklessness.
That is how EwA came to be. EwA intends to provide the information support for the Nature lovers, the conservation experts, volunteers, travelers and leaders and guide them towards finding or developing ethical relevant venues as well as prepare them for having a responsible experience. Ultimately all of us want to contribute positively while enjoying the experience to its fullest. Celebrating responsibly the gift of Nature everyday, in whatever we do, where ever we are is what EwA is all about.”
Born in the UK. Sharan worked as an operational change and people manager within a major bank in the UK until 2010. When an offer of voluntary redundancy came her way after a 15 year career, she grabbed the opportunity and undertook 9 months of voluntary conservation work across several countries.
Since returning, she has been a self-employed consultant and has re-arranged her life to enable her to continue to lead and support businesses through project management and transformational change and have the flexibility to support her passion for further volunteering and nature conservation ventures once the contracts finish. Sharan has volunteered in Africa, Asia and Australia with more plans for the future.
“I have the best of both worlds and my enthusiasm for knowledge transfer, to learn and to share what I’ve learned, works in both fields.
Conservation efforts for me include finding out about good ventures, learning lessons from bad ones, widening my knowledge from fellow travelers, working with and understanding local communities and what they do to preserve their ecosystems and wildlife, and of course sharing my enthusiasm.
Claire and I met in Asia on a poorly run animal conservation site and it was our conversations in the main that grew my awareness that the ethics of conservation volunteering and travel need a lot more thoughts.
Over the years I’ve often been approached to share my experiences and about how I choose ethical organizations. Then when Claire asked me if I would be interested in collaborating on Earthwise Aware and working on a platform for furthering knowledge about conservation volunteering & traveling ethics (including my own), I simply jumped at the opportunity.”
Born in the US. Jeff lived in Puerto Rico and in France. Jeff is a minimal footprint kind of a person, a minimalist – environmentally aware and savvy. Jeff always acts as if we are to a very large extent the instrument of our fate. Leading by example, and encouraging anyone to go for what we think is right or necessary. He is an unconditional supporter of EwA.
Jeff has a Ph.D. in engineering and a law degree and also works as a patent attorney. Jeff has also a passion for helping people vote the right way and this motivated him to found OpaVote in 2011. All these facets are crucial to the development of EwA. Besides being a strong supporter of the mission and the vision of Ewa, he brings his technical and law expertise into the picture.
EwA is more than just a web site and service. It is a community and its contributors are essential as they help EwA shaping its content –reviewing it, editing it, supplying their conservation and wildlife experiences as volunteers, experts, travelers or leaders (e.g., the conservation and/or animal welfare issues and successes they encounter, their travel stories and photos). We are thankful to count with us such great people, who give their time and experience so as to inspire and raise the standards of nature conservation and animal welfare practices.
We are grateful to count Sam, Caro and Marie Therese as close collaborators and providing us with insightful topics and articles.
☞ Samantha Sullivan (US) is currently studying for a master in Biology with a wildlife conservation focus at the Miami University in partnership with San Diego Zoo Global. Sam’s interest is to work within communities to inspire coexistence with wildlife through education and awareness. She is passionate about conservation which we’ve witnessed first hand when we met her in 2015 in the context of a conservation volunteering project in Costa Rica. She has worked with conservation organizations, including the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society in Peru, Ara Project in Costa Rica, and locally with Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, on assessing barriers to create solutions that work toward co-existence between wildlife and communities.
☞ Carolina Pantano (Argentina) Caro is a traveller with a restless soul. She is currently finishing a degree in Biology at the University of Buenos Aires specializing in Marine Biology. Animal lover, sports fan, conservationist, she is interested in doing research in order to improve animal life quality and solve environmental issues. Caro has been volunteering for years in Argentina, but her involvement in programs abroad is recent. She hopes to keep moving, traveling, learning, volunteering and making anything on her behalf to help take care of an amazing planet.
“Awareness is something that I try to do every day through example. And my aim is to share the idea that small actions of a lot of people can make a huge difference.”
☞ Marie Therese Heggen (Norway) is an animal lover. Whenever she can, she educates herself, and shares that knowledge with others. Her passion is animals, animal behavior and conservation work. She is currently studying for a masters in Behavior Analysis (with a focus on animals). She is a horseback rider (and has been from a very young age) so she has interacted with and cared for domestic animals a lot. Recently she took on volunteering in countries other than her own –something that she had wanted to do for a long time. And she shares with us about those experiences and her learning process.
And we are especially thankful for the support from Chanda Bahlo (US): Editor | Anne-Cécile Decoux (France): Advisor | Jon Hodge (US): Editor & Advisor | Claire Reichstein (Australia): Content | Joyce Ng (US): Content | David Kulik (US): Content | Lacey Higgins (US): Content | Kristen Heard (US): Content | Lorraine Roberts (UK): Content.
If you want to join us and contribute your stories and topics please contact us using the EwA contact form.