Jason Taylor

From an “Ecologist Directory” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2004-2005. Profile circa 2004.

Position                                            Director
Department                                      Education Office
Organization                                    Ecological Society of America

jasonWhen did you get interested in ecology? Who was most influential in guiding you into ecology?

Since I was a child I have always been interested in both learning about the natural world and sharing this knowledge with others.  I suspect this interest stemmed from living in a rural area and taking many camping trips with my family.  This curiosity of nature followed me to university where it was almost driven away by boring lectures and limited venues for expressing my interests in science and ecology.  One summer while working as a naturalist I saw an inspirational lecture by Dr. Brock Fenton, a bat biologist, who while showing the diversity of bats in the world also reaffirmed that ecology and science could be fun and interesting.  I later completed a masters degree with Dr. Fenton who encouraged me to look beyond the traditional definition of a science degree and pursue both my interest in ecology and education.

Describe your route to a career in (or using) ecology. What challenges did you need to overcome? What was your training, and what positions have you held?

From the age of 16 I worked various jobs as a naturalist or educator sharing knowledge with others.  The largest challenges were overcoming the dryness of Biology 101 and identifying a career that would satisfy my interest in both ecology and education. I have a B.Sc. in Biology and a Masters in Environmental Studies.  Over my career as a naturalist and ecologist I have worked at a museum of natural history and started a business (Nature Talks) that designed and implemented environmental education programs for elementary schools, resorts, and National Parks.

How did you learn about ecological careers? What is your position title now?

I learned about ecological careers by talking with naturalists and ecologists.  I am currently the Director of Education at the Ecological Society of America.

What key advice would you offer a student today?

Learn to communicate your knowledge and interest of ecology in as many different ways as possible.  Don’t be afraid to try something that steps outside the traditional academic pipeline model.  Find a mentor that allows you to express your interests, not one that molds you into theirs.

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