We’re rolling up to the next ZEP, our seventh, and as the Zoox team prepares it struck me that some of you might wonder what we get up to in between the Zoox Experience Programmes.
If you’ve been on one of our ZEPs, you’ll know it’s pretty intense work. From the first two weeks of training, to the six weeks of running around coordinating Green Fins and other personal conservation projects, we’re just as tired as you by the end of it.
However, it’s nothing a lie in (and let’s be honest, a night out) can’t fix. Then it’s back to work. There’s some Zoox things to follow up with, like writing your references, but after that we put our training hats to rest, and pick up our conservation/charity hats.
You might have figured out from our website/Facebook/Twitter that Chloe, JJ, Meg and I are involved in the Green Fins project. In addition to being Directors of Zoox, Chloe and JJ are also the managers of The Reef-World Foundation, a UK charity designated as the international co-ordinators of the Green Fins project. Meg has been an intern for Reef-World, and I am a recent addition, joining the team as Project Manager (Whee!!!!!).
If you’ve done a ZEP, and don’t know this, we’re ashamed and haven’t done our job right. If you haven’t joined us, it’s confusing – I know! Bear with me.
We work on Green Fins activities and project development all year round, and when Zoox volunteers come and help us coordinate the project on the ground, they make a significant contribution to the growth of the project and it’s conservation effect. In return, we give volunteers the opportunity to demonstrate skills essential to conservation work, along with in-depth professional development, a set-up that I haven’t seen in any other volunteer programme to date. All in all, we hope everyone walks away happy, and having benefited from the experience. You might even say it was symbiotic…actually, we do, that’s why we’re called Zoox(anthellae).
So what have we been up to since the last ZEP? Well Chloe and JJ have been all over the place, introducing Green Fins in the Maldives and Vietnam under the MFF initiative! JJ went to Jamaica, and saw almost nothing but the hotel at the GLOC-2 conference.
Chloe had a more cultural experience in Okinawa, Japan, at the NOWPAP International Coastal Cleanup and Marine Litter Workshop, where she highlighted how, using the Green Fins network, divers can be mobilised to help with marine debris.
I have been working more locally, but in my mind in no less exciting places. I was one of the keynote speakers at The Coron Initiative – Series 3 workshop recently. The initiative is working to promote sustainable tourism in Coron, Palawan so of course Green Fins fits right in.
- View from Coron Island.
So why am I bothering to tell you all this? At first glance it might not seem directly related to the Zoox programmes, but I beg to differ. At each of these conferences and workshops we get to meet a huge variety of people working in different aspects of conservation. For example, my fellow keynote speakers in Coron were an urban planner, an organic shop owner, a permaculture business man turned self-confessed hippie, a fashion designer promoting sustainable materials…. and I’m sure Chloe and JJ’s contacts were just as colourful.
Each conference widens our network, teaches not only about new projects but new ways of looking at problems and solutions. Gives us insights into what potential jobs are available for you out there. These are all lessons we get to share with our volunteers. And that’s just the exciting work. When we’re not stuck behind a desk with the sun shining maliciously outside!