Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Western Wildway Conference, hosted at the Petzl headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Western Wildway is a regional initiative of the the Wildlands Network, a NGO advocating for reintroduction of keystone species and protected connectivity of critical wildlife corridors stretching across the USA into Canada and Mexico.
One of the popular themes of discussion was increasing interest among NGO’s in media products for conservation messaging, with some highly interesting case studies. Susannah Smith, Executive Producer of Red Wolf Revival, a multi-award winning short film from Nestbox Collective, spoke about the film’s target audience, and how commercial market research strategies are being leveraged to increase the film’s reach to rural audiences in communities where red wolves persist. Conservation activist and ultra-hiker John Davis gave a preview of an upcoming documentary “Born to Rewild” about his 2013 TrekWest hiking adventure from Sonora, Mexico to British Columbia. And widely acclaimed wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen spoke about his experience following 399, a famed Tetons grizzly mother, and how it has led him to speak out against the proposed delisting of grizzly bears.
All in all, there was keen interest among many conference attendees in learning more about developing, funding, and leveraging media projects to bolster their conservation messages. And even within a highly localized group of attendees there exists a wealth of opportunities for those of us interested in “science impact production,” and efforts to bridge science, media, and public engagement. I was very pleased with my experience as an attendee, and I anticipate some exciting collaborative professional projects to be forthcoming!