Meet The Daring Duo Working To Save Parrots In Latin America

For Endangered Species Day 2020, I interviewed two nonprofit leaders working to save endangered parrots in Latin America. Read more to learn about their struggles and triumphs in the field.


LoraKim Joyner

Co-Director, One Earth Conservation

Who She Is:

Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, DVM, combines her experience as a wildlife veterinarian, Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication, and Unitarian Universalist minister to address the importance of both human and nonhuman well-being in living a deeply meaningful and vibrant life, as well as caring for other animals, self, family, relationships, organizations, and life all around us. She serves as Community Minister with the Community Unitarian Church at White Plains, NY and Co-Director of One Earth Conservation. She brings 33+ years of experience as a veterinary conservationist working in Latin America.


Gail Koelln

Co-Director, One Earth Conservation

Who She Is:

For as long as she can remember, animals have nurtured Gail through their beauty and wonder, and she loves to care for them. Gail earned a Master’s degree in Zoology but later left the field. However, over many years she has volunteered for the Wildlife Conservation Society, NYC Sierra Club, Gotham City Networking (leading their Gotham Green group), and Climate Reality Project. As a grant writing professional for many years, Gail has worked with various animal welfare, wildlife, and environmental organizations. After she met LoraKim in 2014, she found her life’s work serving as the Co-Director of One Earth Conservation.


 

Intelligent, brilliantly colored, and able to mimic the human voice—it’s no wonder why parrots are some of the most popular birds on the planet. Unfortunately, parrots’ desirability as pets, as well as factors like habitat loss, has led all but four of 350 parrot species to qualify for protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). That’s why, for Endangered Species Day 2020, I decided to interview the co-directors of GlobalGiving partner, One Earth Conservation, to gather their insights on what it’s like working to conserve endangered parrots in Latin America.

Q: What is one piece of advice you have for individuals wanting to get involved in animal conservation work.

LoraKim: Be in it for the long haul, with deep relationships with the people who live where the wildlife does.

Gail: Don’t give up! I earned a Master’s degree in Zoology in the 1980s and proceeded to follow a winding career path that took me far away from wildlife conservation. It wasn’t until 2014 that I met LoraKim and that changed. Also, volunteer doing wildlife conservation or related work. You’ll learn a lot, help out nonprofits organizations, and meet people who can help (even as you help them and the animals).

Q: Describe the biggest challenges and/or opportunities facing conservation work (particularly, the conservation of endangered species).

Gail: Oh, there are so many! Biodiversity loss is as big as climate change, although we hear less about it in the news and other media. The illegal wildlife trade has the biggest impact on parrot conservation; but habitat loss, pollution, and, of course, climate change, are also big contributors. There is a lot of overlap between all those issues and social justice issues, such as income inequality and discrimination. It all seems very overwhelming at times, and yet there is much being done that gives us hope.

Q: Here at GlobalGiving, four core values guide our work: Always Open; Never Settle; Listen, Act, Learn, Repeat; and Committed to WOW. What principles shape One Earth Conservation’s work?

LoraKim: One Earth Conservation invites people into a vision and practice of interbeing, based on the following principles:

  • All individuals of all species have inherent worth and dignity (all bodies are beautiful, have worth, and matter).
  • All individuals of all species are connected to each other in worth, beauty, and well-being.
  • We are also connected in harm. There is no beauty without tragedy. What is done to another, is done to all of us.
  • Embracing this reality, humans grow in belonging to this wondrous planet and the life upon it, and so embraced and nurtured, can nurture in return.
  • This reality of interbeing makes us both powerful and vulnerable—therefore, we need each other to grow and to heal as much as possible.
  • Humans are adaptable and can change— both individually and as families, organizations, communities, and societies. We can become more effective and joyful nurturers. This is hard, deep, intentional, and a lifetime’s work.
  • Q: What is the one question nobody asks about your work that you would like them to ask?

    Gail: I’d like people to ask and want to understand why our work is so, so important. I think too many people think that in the scheme of things, animals don’t matter as much as people. Someone may say, ‘Why should I care about birds?’

    “But now, more than ever, I hope people are seeing how intertwined all of life is and how we must not only care but also find new ways to treasure and nurture the interdependent web of life—of which we are all a part.”

    Donate to One Earth Conservation, Inc. for Endangered Species Day 2020!

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    Featured Photo: Fund 16 Honduran Women Saving Endangered Parrots by One Earth Conservation, Inc.

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