This week on ‘An Interview with WiseOceans’ we spoke with Reyna Gilbert from The Pew Charitable Trusts
Name: Reyna Gilbert
Role: Principal Associate
Company: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Top Tip: There will be opportunities to focus in on your interests and perhaps even elevate yourself to an expert level on that topic, so don’t miss those chances.
Quick Fire Questions
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I am a lover of nature and the outdoors, and I find the most peace and comfort in natural spaces. Millions of people around the world depend on a healthy ocean, not just for peace and comfort, but for their livelihoods and food security. I strongly believe in responsibly conserving our shared resource so that it can continue to thrive and provide benefits to people for generations to come.
2. What steps did you take or are you currently taking to achieve your career goals?
To achieve my career goal of working in conservation, I participated in an unpaid internship immediately after graduating from college. The internship allowed me to live in Guatemala for three months, where I gained valuable conservation experience that has stayed with me to this day.
3. How did you obtain your current position?
I secured my current position on Pew’s Preventing Ocean Plastics team through an internal transfer. I previously worked on another Pew campaign called Reducing Harmful Fisheries Subsidies, which concluded successfully after an agreement was reached by member-countries of the World Trade Organization in June 2022.
4. Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
The part of my job that I enjoy the most is engaging with representatives from other countries, whether government officials or civil society members, and working towards the common goal of global conservation and environmental sustainability. While we may disagree on the measures for achieving our goals, I enjoy working with together the same ultimate goal in mind.
5. Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
I feel like I’m making a difference whenever I can communicate the importance of science-based conservation and sustainability, whether through hosting a multi-stakeholder workshop for government officials, or delivering a presentation during an international conference. Increasing the public’s environmental awareness and collaborating with other experts in the space make me feel like I’m really making a difference.
6. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
It’s ok to have areas of particular interest, whether it be gender, environmental justice, or something else. There will be opportunities to focus in on your interests and perhaps even elevate yourself to an expert level on that topic, so don’t miss those chances.
7. Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I knew the skills of inter-personal communication and respectful cross-cultural interaction would be needed, but they are even more important than I thought. Active, compassionate listening and humility are important skills in this field. Conservation work needs to be inclusive of diverse perspectives and circumstances in order for it to be effective.
8. What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
It’s ok to constantly be learning – don’t be intimidated or feel like you need to know everything right away.
9. What is your favourite marine creature and why?
Dolphins are my favorite marine creature because I find them to be majestic, and they are believed to be highly intelligent.
10. What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Sitting on a dock on Lake Atitlan in Panajachel, Guatemala, and seeing the countless stars in the night sky reflected and shimmering onto the lake. In that moment, it seemed that all was perfect in the world.
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