A Day in the Life: Sea Turtle Conservationist
Kaj Schut, originally from Utrecht, the Netherlands, moved to Bonaire in March of 2015. With a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam, Schut also hold an MSc degree in Environment and Development from the University of Edinburgh. In August 2016, she started her job at the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) where she juggles many jobs within the company.
Communications and Fundraising Officer at Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.
Length at current job:
Since August 2016.
Tell me about your job and what you do on a day-to-day basis:
I am responsible for the development and implementation of the communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) plans that serve STCB’s entire program. On a day-to-day basis, I update our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and website (www.bonaireturtles.org); I write reports and press releases, organize STCB’s free public presentations (every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month) as well as presentations and creative workshops for school children. I also manage the successful Adopt-A-Nest program – where STCB offers companies and individuals the opportunity to commit to sea turtle conservation by adopting an endangered sea turtle nest.
What are your customers like? What type of people do you meet?
The people that we meet all have one thing in common: their enthusiasm for Bonaire’s sea turtles! Locals and tourists come to our office (Kaya Korona #53) to learn more about Bonaire’s most iconic wildlife and the work that we do. They ask us about the different species of sea turtles that live around our island, why sea turtles around the world and in Bonaire are threatened and what they can do to help.
Do you work in a team environment? Or do you work independently?
We have a small team of 3 people, plus a large group of volunteers.
What motivates you to go to work each day?
Bonaire is home to three of the world’s six endangered species of marine turtles: the hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtle. Without our efforts to safeguard Bonaire’s turtles, there might come a day where divers and snorkelers won’t see any sea turtles any more. It is our mission to ensure that Bonaire’s sea turtles have a secure future, and to connect people to sea turtle conservation in ways that inspire caring for nature. It feels great to be part of it!
What do you enjoy best about your job?
I enjoy inspiring others to care for nature. Education is a key focus of STCB; it is very rewarding to help people understand sea turtles and their importance, not only to their habitat, but to our lives as well. I especially enjoy educating the children of Bonaire – I hope that fun lessons and creative workshops will help youngsters relate to sea turtles and apply basic principles of conservation to their daily lives.
What advice would you give to someone considering working in this industry/role?
It can be tricky finding a job in our industry; jobs are limited and there is lots of competition. I’d advise others to find a volunteer position in an organization you like and gain valuable experience to lead you to meet people in the industry.
What are your future goals?
To learn Papiamentu – the local language; and to continue doing what I love.
How has your education or past career experiences prepared you for this role?
After completing my Master’s degree, I did a communications internship at a NGO in the Netherlands. This was a great learning experience!
Where else have you worked overseas/in the Caribbean?
Before I came to Bonaire, I studied in Scotland and worked in the Netherlands.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Getting the job that I love!
In your free time, what are your hobbies?
I really like photography – especially on this beautiful Caribbean island. I also enjoy reading a book in my hammock, surrounded by birds, lizards and iguanas.