It all started when…
I first held a tiny little Lesser long-eared bat in my hand and saw this fiercely intelligent creature looking back at me. I was still a university student then, and at the time, I did not realise how that moment would significantly influence the rest of my life.
I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Australia and was always a fan of nature and animals. My childhood was filled with fishing trips and catching frogs, spiders and snakes on my family’s farm. Like most environmentalists of my generation, the documentaries of Sir David Attenborough ignited a spark within me, and I desperately wanted to pursue a career in environmental conservation.
After I graduated with a Bachelor Science from the University of Melbourne, I began work as a threatened species biologist at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research. I worked on a wide range of environmental research, from grassland monitoring to southern brown bandicoot conservation. But my heart kept returning to working on our threatened bat species. My time working on Grey-headed flying foxes and the Southern Bent-wing bat gave me a window into the fascinating lives of these animals that so few get to see.
Australia’s bats and those around the world face threats from every direction. From the impacts of bushfire to habitat destruction and human-wildlife conflicts, these creatures are battling to survive. While science learns more about these mysterious creatures, it became clear to me that the battle for bat conservation hinges the most on the actions of communities and how we interact with these animals.
From this realisation, I started the next phase of my career as an environmental advocate and science communicator. My Masters in Communications (Public Relations) combined with my science background, gave me a unique set of tools to start working on community engagement and science communication. I have been honoured to have learnt from some of the best communicators at the Smithsonian Institution and to be a voice for bat conservation around the world at Bat Conservation International.
Now I am working to raise a voice for all of nature, including bats, with the Wilderness Society. Through my journey, I have come to realise that science alone will not save our endangered species. We need the community behind us and the political will to do so. That is why I am proud to be advocating for new national nature laws in Australia to help end our extinction crisis.
Did I ever think I would be combining politics and communication with my science degree when I first started? Certainly not!
I have trodden an unusual career path and one I am so happy I stumbled across. I am passionate not only about bat conservation and science communication but also tackling some of our biggest environmental problems like the extinction crisis and climate change. By following these passions, I have been lucky to connect with communities around the world trying to make a difference for our planet.
I am a great believer of the inverted perspective. If you can try looking at the world or a problem from a different angle, maybe even through the eyes of an upside-down bat, you might be amazed by what you can see.
- Micaela Jemison