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'd hoped to explore. And we lived on a piece of desert land that I wanted to understand better.
Some might say my ideas were unrealistic, but I had strong feelings that people—including the outdoor-loving types—weren't well informed about Nature, even the local variety. When most people went outside, I could tell they weren't tuning into Nature's near-infinite complexity, aware of its elegant systems of checks and balances, or familiar with the native plants, the habits of the animals, or the nuances of the soils and climate. Actually, I didn't see or know many of these things myself on our own land. As I wondered why, I realized a guide that laid it out up front would have made all the difference in my connection to this piece of land. The fact that such a guide was not available got me thinking about what's going on with our society, consumer culture, and Nature.
To make matters even more puzzling, all the information for understanding Nature locally was more accessible than ever before. Getting to know this piece of land was the perfect opportunity to find that 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 "why should I care?"
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 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 and marketing, 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.