We were lucky to catch up with Kristen Hoss recently and have shared our conversation below.
Kristen, appreciate you joining us today. Let’s talk legacy – what sort of legacy do you hope to build?
Towards the beginning of my career, I worked as a wildlife biologist. My goal was to restore habitat for wildlife and restore populations of endangered wildlife. As I grew a deeper understanding of what that really means, I determined that the main way to make a difference for wildlife, the environment and in turn people, was to take a more holistic approach. Restoring one population or one tract of land was not enough. To make a real difference, people need to take a more active role in habitat restoration, because habitat loss and fragmentation is one of the main reasons that we are losing wildlife at a rate resembling mass extinction events. We the people hold 60% of the land in the US privately, which means we can restore 60% of the habitat in the US.
The best way to engage people in this process is through education that includes an eco-action component. Thus, I became an educator and started my own education company and then became an Executive Director of Youth Environmental Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on environmental education and restoration.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I got into wildlife biology and education naturally. I was born with the drive to explore and connect with the world and take my friends and others along with me. Today, I get paid to do literally the same things I did when I was 7! I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but at the age of 15, I heard whale songs from Humpback Whales and I knew whatever field of study I needed to enter included whales.
So I pursued a degree which included a marine biology component, took continuing education in marine biology and got a Masters in Conservation Ecology and Wildlife Sciences which included the completion of a Marine biology thesis. Soon after I became a wildlife biologist for AZ Game and Fish, then for US Dept of Agriculture. During this time, I continued to take classes and joined forces with a couple of professors of marine biology. One in particular was so amazing, I wanted to be just like him! So, I became an educator just like him, introducing people to the wonders of the world through quality education and eco-action as well as leading them on trips to places like Baja and to swim with Manatees in Florida.
I am able to accomplish educating and engaging about 19,000 people a year thanks to the great team at Youth Environmental Alliance, as well as partnerships with Green Edventures Tours and The Florida Master Naturalist Program. We work to reach so many people to hopefully create an army of eco-action warriors who educate and engage their circles of influence. Our overarching theme is “we are all connected, so we are all affected!” Because of this, every action that we take and everyone we touch has the potential to make great things happen for people, the planet and the wildlife that accompanies us on our journey here.
Have you ever had to pivot?
Once upon a time, there was a global pandemic……during COVID-19 since all of our programs were in-person and hands-on, we quickly had to pivot them to virtual. To do this, we wanted to do something unique and ensure there was a hands-on component to all 14 of our virtual classes. By leveraging the teams individual strengths, we were able to rework our classes and present them virtually, all the while maintaining quality education with hands-on activities that kids and classes could do virtually with our leadership.
Thanks to the help of one of our newest board members, Melanie Cantua, we were able to pivot programming and market in an entirely different way than we had before. Thanks to the help of our newest employee, Cindy Davidson, we were able to apply for the PPP loan and pivot and teach all 14 virtual programs.
I have found that resiliency is increased significantly by working with a team and like-minded partners,
We’d love to hear about you met your business partner.
When I started my own education company, Tanawha Presents, I contracted my services out to teach or for ecological consultation and I was a member of multiple environmental education networks. I met Cindy Davidson through the close-knit network of environmental educators in South Florida. She ran Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) and contracted with me to help teach fishing. Soon after, she had to resign. At the time, YEA was only 1 employee, Cindy and myself. So I volunteered to shift into the Executive Director role and run the company as if it were my own. I grew the company, and Cindy’s circumstances changed so she is now back as an integral part of the team, helping to expand it to the Tampa area and increase marketing to a national community.
- Website: www.youthenvironmentalalliance.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/youth_environmental_alliance
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/YouthEnvironmentalAlliance
- Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/company/youth-environmental-alliance
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/yeafrog
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxiJkaNb4-IY5RSbPDmjS3A
- Other: Great nonprofits : https://www.every.org/yeafrog
photo credits Youth Environmental Alliance