NWT's Communications Intern: Diversity, Meg Watts, explains why her role is so important and what her plans for the year are.
A paid internship is an exciting prospect for any university student, but I’m delighted to join the team at Norfolk Wildlife Trust as their new Diversity Communications Intern. The Green Recovery Fund is going to enable some fantastic work this year! I applied for this role because it’s a natural progression towards my personal goals; I’m studying a degree in Literature and Creative Writing because I want to improve my environmental communication skills. In this role, I hope that I can inspire community-led, collaborative, inclusive environmental action that can be effectively and permanently integrated into the lives of all of Norfolk’s inhabitants.
In my opinion, feeling a sense of belonging within the natural world is one of the best motivators to protect it. However, this sense of joy in nature is not universal. I was born into a family of nature geeks, moth trappers and jungle gardeners, but I wonder how differently I’d feel about nature without this exposure and education throughout my youth. In fact, I wonder how much I’d care, or how capable I’d feel in making positive change. Even visiting nature reserves can be complicated by both structural and social inequalities; our previous experiences (or lack of them) affect whether we feel welcome in these spaces, or if we can even access them.
If you think back to the heady days of wandering into your local bookshop, you may have noticed some similarities between the backgrounds of popular nature writers, for example. In the UK, conservation, outdoor work and indeed, the biological sciences, are a male-dominated, predominantly white field of work and study. This is not intended to devalue the contributions of these environmentalists, or paint them in a negative light; it merely illustrates the lack of diverse experiences feeding into our understanding of the natural world. By celebrating and encouraging diverse, complex, individual relationships with nature, we can encourage everyone to look after our wildlife. Imagine: what does it look like to live in a community where everybody has had unrestricted access to nature? What could we achieve together?
Over the course of this year, I’m looking forward to beginning to answer these questions. I’m definitely going to spotlight the work of local Black environmentalists, environmentalists of colour, women in conservation, LGBT+ people in conservation, disabled environmentalists and young environmentalists. All of these people are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental degradation, but can also feel and be most excluded from the beautiful landscapes of the UK. It is therefore of the utmost importance that our communities are not distanced from nature, but instead welcomed into it.
Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing this in action. I can’t wait to visit reserves like NWT Cley Marshes with people who have never been before; capturing that moment of noticing and awe that accompanies spotting a wading spoonbill, or the tracking pattern of a grey seal, or the cheerful splashes of bird’s foot trefoil.
Meg Watts is Communications Intern: Diversity at NWT. This role is part of NWT's Future Professionals Initiative. This project is funded by the government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.
Header image by Tom Watts.