This week on ‘An Interview with WiseOceans’ we spoke with Molly Street from Amiga Island Ecological Foundation
Name: Molly Street
Role: Marketing and Communication Coordinator
Company: Amiga Island Ecological Foundation
Top Tip: Start as soon as you can! It’s never too early to start building your resume
Quick Fire Questions
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
Though I could practically swim before I could walk, my passion for the ocean didn’t start until I started researching climate change in elementary school. Through my research, I learned that the ocean is the source of life on Earth. It dictates everything – from weather patterns to creating the oxygen we breathe. Even though I grew up in a land-locked area of the USA, I realized that even there our climate is connected to the sea.
My parents brought my sister (a fellow marine biologist) and I to the ocean for vacations. Also, during college, I always sought out ways to be near the sea.
I was living and studying in Australia when the 2016 mass bleaching event occurred. Here, I witnessed first hand how once vibrant reefs were reduced to algae-covered rubble. This cemented my resolve to dedicate my personal and professional lives to conserving the ocean and researching ways to undo the years of damage they’ve had to endure on our behalf.
2. What steps did you take or are you currently taking to achieve your career goals?
Originally, I didn’t focus on anything conservation related while I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree until my last two years of school. I really regret not starting earlier. I ended up with an Environmental Science minor simply from taking classes that interested me. But, I realized shortly before graduation I should have stayed to acquire the Environmental Science major. However, I couldn’t afford to stay at school.
After college, I looked for jobs in conservation by searching on various job boards such as WiseOceans, Work for Good, Indeed, and signed up for emails from biology listservs. I ended up as an Instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute which really was the beginning of my career path. After working there I spent a year and a half working at a dive shop in Hawai’i and received my Divemaster. Being someone who’s interested in a conservation job that doesn’t have a science-specific major has been INCREDIBLY challenging. While I have a science minor, most jobs wouldn’t consider me without a science major. I ended up taking a couple of certification courses online through Cornell University to strengthen my science communication background.
In terms of active steps, I’m always looking for online courses to take that will help strengthen my skills in areas where I might be lacking. I also volunteer for causes I’m passionate about. I use these opportunities to network with people that have similar career goals and aspirations.
3. How did you obtain your current position?
I actually heard about my current position through WiseOceans! The Amiga Island Ecological Foundation was looking for someone with a background in communication who also had marine biology experience to take over a new marketing position for them. It was truly the perfect match.
4. Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy the underwater photography aspect of my job. It allows me to show everyone on social media all of the cool critters we come across on the reef and in our coral nurseries!
5. Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
I would definitely say that the active coral out-planting I take part in feels as though I’ve made a difference. I get to see corals grow in the nurseries and take those same fragments I attached months ago back to the reef where they’ll hopefully grow and support biodiversity again.
6. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I wish I would have known how difficult and competitive it would be to start a career in conservation. If I had known that I would have spent more time in college volunteering for science organizations.
7. Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I can’t think of any skills I thought I would never use, but I do wish I would have taken more time to strengthen my networking skills. Networking is invaluable, especially in conservation!
8. What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Start as soon as you can! It’s never too early to start building your resume.
9. What is your favourite marine creature and why?
I’m obsessed with spotted boxfish. They look like little sugar cubes with fins! So adorable.
10. What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Interacting with a bottlenose dolphin while leading a dive off the coast of Hawai’i. It was so inquisitive – we played together for the better part of 5 minutes!
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