Hello, my name is Amanda Clements, and I started YLE in 2017. I'd recently left the Bureau of Land Management, where I was employed for over 20 years as a field-level ecologist. The experience of working on nearly a million acres of public land had afforded me wonderful opportunities to get to know a big landscape and influence land management, but there were other ideas I hoped to explore. And we lived on this piece of land that I wanted to know better.
Some might say my ideas were naive or unrealistic, but I had strong feelings that people—even the outdoor-loving type— weren't well informed about Nature, particularly where they lived. They didn't see its near infinite complexity, its elegant systems of checks and balances, or even its central role in our survival. In my mind, it seemed like they were missing out on a key part of the human experience. I realized that mainstream society was well aware of the environment but seemed to have a major disconnect with Nature, as if considering it irrelevant to modern life. Otherwise, wouldn't educators, government, the marketplace, and the media have ensured we understood the natural world, at least right around where we live?
The fact that everything people needed to understand Nature was within reach made the situation all the more puzzling. Getting to know this piece of land was the perfect opportunity to find the information, put it together, and figure out ways to make it relevant. And that last part seemed to be the missing link—both in my early efforts and nature education in general—answering the unspoken question "So, why should I care, I mean really care deep down?"
The past few years have been an odyssey of discovery, much of it fostered by the private sector mindset I've had to adopt. I've learned how to understand land in all its elements, how to find supporting data, how to present information for laymen, how to make it personal, how to give people what they think they want and a little more, and how to shed my natural resource training in exchange it for a more open-minded approach. Finally, after all this I think I've hit on the right recipe for explaining land and Nature. Now it's time to serve it up, and the private sector with its access to funding, emphasis on innovation, promotional skills, and the pressures of competition is the right venue to make it all happen.
To this end, I'm looking forward to joining forces with some like-minded people and businesses who share the same vision. YLE might stay localized, or maybe it will find a larger niche and have a bigger impact on people's lives. Big companies are out there, shaping people's understanding of what it looks like to enjoy the outdoors. What if they got serious about showing people how to connect with Nature? It might be just what the earth needs right now.