Welcome to our 2016 Advent Calendar series (#AFONAdvent)! This year, our theme is “The Gift of Inspiration”. For each day, one of our members has written a blog post about someone who has inspired them, and how that inspiration has lead to them being where they are today. Each member is a shining example of a young person who is acting Now for Nature. We hope that you enjoy the series and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Like a lot of young naturalists growing up, loving wildlife was not a common hobby. In fact I was the only person in my class that loved the natural world.
I learnt a lot about wildlife from books, as well as going out and watching it around my neighbourhood in Leicestershire, I also took inspiration from seeing wildlife on TV; a favourite was The Really Wild Show on CBBC hosted by my wildlife hero Michaela Strachan (and others including Nick Baker, Chris Packham and Steve Backshall).
Michaela’s passion and enthusiasm for wildlife is inspiring, there are not many people you can say you have watched on a consistent basis for 20 years. When watching Springwatch this year it occurred to me that I was watching the same person doing something very similar in 1996 and now in 2016. The Really Wild Show had a profound influence on me, I do think that I would still like wildlife had it not been on, but seeing people such as Michaela Strachan be excited and passionate about nature on children’s TV validated that it is ok to love and care about wildlife.
Michaela Strachan with a tenrec
Michaela has definitely left a lasting impression, not only on myself, but many others my age. Whilst researching for this blog, I asked several people, many of whom are not naturalists about their impressions of Michaela Strachan. They all knew who she was, what she did and many of them were big fans from The Really Wild Show and more recently Springwatch.
Michaela Strachan with Steve Backshall (left) and Nick Baker (right)
In adulthood I can relate to Michaela in that we both moved away from the UK, but still champion the wildlife back at home and in the countries we moved to.
So how has Michaela Strachan influenced what I do for wildlife today? Well, I work as a Wildlife Education Manager, where I have set up free wildlife education programs and I teach thousands of children every year about wildlife and the environment. During my time working in environmental education I have taught nearly 30,000 children about wildlife and how they can protect it.
Connel Bradwell at work
I am doing what Michaela Strachan has been doing pretty much throughout my lifetime, but on a smaller scale. As I move forward with my career, I aim to continue to teach young people and to try to leave a lasting impression on them to save the wildlife that I love.