Our Explorers and Leaders working in science and conservation

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

I sat opposite a young woman working hard as we trundled slowly into Waterloo intrigued by what ‘Qflow’ might mean – the sticker on the back of her laptop. I was also reflecting on the increasing number of our Explorers and Leaders who are putting their wide-ranging skills to use in raising understanding and awareness of environmental issues.

I’d just read an uplifting and moving blog by one of our outstanding Chief Scientists, Fernando Mateos-González about the impact of working with us. In between his huge commitment to young people Nando has just completed work assisting on a major BBC natural history documentary and is now helping run a course to help early career conservationists find their first job. I was on my laptop adding the biography of another committed and talented young Leader and science communicator, Cameron Mackay, to a presentation I was about to deliver. Cameron Mackay is a filmmaker and climate change researcher. He has conducted research, and produced documentary films which have been shown by the BBC, at IMAX theatres and at film festivals across Europe.

A colleague emailed me to say that he’d just received the story of a young woman called Holly Griffin, who was a Young Explorer on the Amazon 2011 expedition and went on to study Environmental Geography at UCL and is now a marine conservationist. Her work is in understanding the human side of conservation, and engaging people effectively with ocean issues. I looked up again and the woman opposite chatted amiably for a minute or two. Her name is Brittany Harris and she is the CEO and Co-Founder of Qualis Flow. ‘Q-Flow’ turns out to be an environmental management platform that holistically tracks, monitors, and predicts project environmental risk. Remarkably, Brittany went on expedition with us too – and knows Holly.

Science and learning has always been an important part of our programmes. We know that making sustainable and ethical decisions is increasingly important to young people, and that some of the clearest, most compelling arguments to try and protect our environment are coming from young voices. It is a real pleasure to learn about the diverse, exciting work that our Explorers, Leaders and Members are doing on our behalf, for our planet.

On Monday evening I asked the disarmingly energetic and engaging entomologist who joined our 1969 expedition to Newfoundland (and has worked at the Natural History Museum for over 30 years) whether he thought it was right for us to continue to take young people to wild, remote and fragile environments in order to support their greater understanding and to engage their passion for science and the environment. He confirmed that it absolutely was – and the right thing to do now more than ever.