Today is the first day of my new job at the World Wildlife Fund. It’s ironic that I am starting on the same day that I write the blog for Day 197. Read more and you’ll see why.
So you know that I am raising money for those who have lost their jobs due to the oil crisis in the Gulf. I have received very few donations so if you are able to spare just $10 I encourage you to click here and make a donation to help someone out. When I make the donations I will post photos and videos of the people that you have helped!
I have been following a blog that is written by Dr. Darron Collins, a scientist for the WWF and former resident of the Gulf region. Dr. Collins has been in the Gulf region after the oil spill supporting the work of some of the WWF’s local partners who have actively involved in front-line efforts to protect and restore the wildlife and wildlife habitats in affected areas. Through his writing you meet some of the people directly affected by this catastrophe. His blog is part of what inspired me to try to help some of the individuals who are out of work there due to the spill. To be clear, my efforts to help the Gulf are in no way related to the work that I am doing at WWF. I wrote Dr. Collins a note one day to congratulate him on his work and find out a little more about the situation of the residents of the Gulf shore.
To my surprise, Dr. Collins responded to my email a few minutes after I sent it to him and said he would be delighted to talk to me. We tried to connect on Thursday and Friday of that week but weren’t able to. He then wrote to me saying he was going to be here in DC the following week and offered to meet me for breakfast one morning.
I met him on Tuesday, the same day I let the WWF know that I was accepting their offer (Again, I hadn’t mentioned to Dr. Collins that I was also applying for a position with the WWF because they were completely separate issues). I walked in Le Pain Quotidien in Georgetown and found Dr. Collins already there enjoying some coffee. We shook hands and I sat down at the long wooden communal table where he was sitting. Before we began talking, I said, “Hey, I got to tell you something.” I explained how I was accepting a position with the WWF and he looked at me and said, “I know.” Apparently he was so impressed with my project that he shared it with colleagues at the WWF. As it turns out someone he shared it with reported back and informed him that I was joining the organization. What a coincidence that I end up posting this day’s blog on the very day that I finally start my job there!
So you have got to check out Dr. Collins’ blog. It is amazing. He is a great writer and includes stunning photographs with each post. Some of the images of this oil disaster will blow you away.
I asked Dr. Collins if he would be my 197th recipient and he gladly accepted. He tells me immediately what he plans to do with the $10. “I am going to give it to a guy named Joey down in Grand Island, Louisiana who is an ex-shrimper who lost his job due to the oil spill,” he recounts. “He took me out on his boat while I was there.” I remember reading about “Joey T” in Dr. Collins’ fifth blog entry. Joey has faced some unbelievable challenges. He lost his left leg due to a staff infection that spread as a result of mackerel attack. Then a year later he lost his right leg in a car accident. On the blog Dr. Collins writes, “Joey T was one of the best guides I ever had. He had fished every corner of those waters for flounder, redfish and speckled trout and named and loved every tiny inlet and every bend in the land.”
Dr. Collins received a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic and a PhD in anthropology from Tulane University. His studies and his professional work with the WWF all have focused on the relationship between people and the environment; helping society answer the question: “How can we meet the needs of human communities while improving the ecological integrity of the surrounding ecosystem?”
The ten-year veteran of the WWF tells me that he started out his career with the organization in Latin America. He shares an absolutely amazing and hilarious story with me here:
Among his many projects right now, Dr. Collins is working on a special 50th anniversary film for the WWF which celebrates this landmark occasion on December 1, 2011.
I want to share with you one of the stories that Dr. Collins shared with me. Back in February he was working with a gentleman from Namibia named John Kasaona. Mr. Kasaona is the deputy director for Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation in his country. It’s a group that turned poachers into the very people who now protect the environment. He gives a great speech at TEDx and it almost didn’t happen as they came very close to being stranded here because of the snowpocalypse. He said Mr. Kasaona had never seen snow before and his first experience was a three-foot blanket of the stuff that brought DC to a standstill!
When he is not working, Dr. Collins enjoys fly fishing, mountain biking, adventure racing and of course spending time with his wife of nearly 12 years and two daughters; one nine and the other seven.
Well, I am off to work now! It’s been 285 days since I last spoke those words and it feels awesome!