At age 14 Kate Gersh witnessed the natural beauty of a wild lion during an African safari that inspired her to dedicate her career to conservation.
Now the associate director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, Gersh works to make Jackson a wildlife-friendly environment.
From 5:45 to 7 tonight she will speak alongside three other conservationists at Teton Science Schools’ Front Porch Conversation, “Mentoring for Conservation.”
Trevor Bloom, a phenology scientist from the The Nature Conservancy; Bryan Bedrosian, the research director of the Teton Raptor Center; and Megan Kohli, the branch chief of youth, community engagement and volunteer programs at Grand Teton National Park, are all set to take part in the panel.
Gersh said the conservation leadership program she attended when she was 29 years old changed her life.
“We had to develop our skills being a good public speaker, a good teammate, and also growing your network to have other professionals to lean on,” Gersh said.
Tonight she will pay that experience forward.
Hannah Mook, the Science Schools’ director of development, said the subject of this week’s conversation is consistent with the overall goal of the program.
When the Front Porch Conversations started they were intended to preserve the educational tradition of Murie Ranch and to inspire younger students.
“These are important events that harken back to the history of Murie Ranch,” Mook said. “They brought people together with different opinions to talk.”
Mook said the speakers on tonight’s panel are younger than the guests who are usually invited to speak at the Front Porch Conversations.
That reflected a statement on Teton Science Schools’ website: “These four conservationists will reflect on early experiences that shaped their personal conservation ethic and discuss how this ethic drives their work today as scientists, educators, and mentors in their fields.”
Bedrosian said young people interested in conservation shouldn’t give up.
“For the young folks that are interested, it’s tenacity, drive and kind of passion and sticking with it,” Bedrosian said.
It’s also, he said, “knowing that the value that we’re getting from our work is not necessarily a monetary value, because the wildlife profession is not a high-paying profession, but knowing that you’re actually making a difference for the future of the world.” ￼