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Episode #068

Crafting a Conservation Photo Project from Scratch (and Winning a Grant to Fund It!) with Gretchen Kay Stuart

by

UPDATED: May 23, 2023
ORIGINALLY AIRED ON March 23, 2021

 

You really just never know when your next big thing will just run right out in front of you and catch your attention. Literally. Here's how to turn a surprising situation into a photographic opportunity.

 

Gretchen Kay Stuart is not your average photographer. She packed up her life to fit into a van in order to dedicate herself to conservation visual storytelling, and has been traveling the continent in pursuit of stories. And her current story is a great example of what happens when luck, curiosity, and tenacity collide.

See, Gretchen met a fox one day. And she realized this is not just any old fox. As she asked questions and dug into the research, she discovered what is now a multi-year project that she is fully devoted to.

In this episode, not only does Gretchen detail exactly how she crafted a long-term photography project out of an encounter with a fox, a mini van, and some potato chips…

but she also dives into how she won a grant for her work on this project… when that grant application was the very first one she's ever filled out.

From examples to tips to mindset strategies for people who are just getting started in wildlife conservation photography, you'll learn a ton from Gretchen and walk away inspired to look for your own surprising stories.

 

You'll Learn:

  • How to turn a question into a story and chase down leads
  • The power of volunteering to open doors
  • How to turn a huge idea into bite-sized pieces
  • The extra step that helped Gretchen score a grant

 

Resources Mentioned

Episode 068: Crafting a Conservation Photo Project from Scratch (and Winning a Grant to Fund It!) with Gretchen Kay Stuart

Shownotes: ConservationVisuals.com/68

(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)

Jaymi Heimbuch:
You really just never know when your next big thing, whether that's a really cool story idea, or a short-term project or a big, beefy multi-year project will just run right out in front of you and catch your attention, and that's actually quite literally what happened for today's guest. Gretchen Kay Stuart is a conservation photographer, and recently, she actually made a big life decision to dedicate herself full-time to conservation photography. She's out exploring this national park and discovers a red fox near the side of the road. Well, this wasn't just any red fox, and as she dug into the research and dug into the story behind it, she discovered what is now a multi-year project that she is fully devoted to.

0:00:46.2 JH: Now, not only are we gonna hear all about this project and how it's taken shape in some smart ways that she's shaped up, but you'll also hear how Gretchen won a grant for her work on this project. Now, I learned something that I did not know before this interview, which is, this was the very first grant that she has ever applied to. So, you're gonna find out everything that she did, the tools she used and the strategies she put in place to be able to create a very strong, a winning grant application, and how she can use that now toward her project.

0:01:20.3 JH: Gretchen also has some really great kind of tips and mindsets for people who are just getting started because she's brand new to this field and already she's really making headway, and I think that what she has to tell you is gonna be incredibly encouraging and inspiring. Alright, let's dive in.

[music]

0:01:42.1 JH: Welcome to Impact: The Conservation Photography Podcast. I'm your host, Jaymi Heimbuch. And if you are a visual storyteller with a love for all things wild, then you're in the right place. From conservation to creativity, from business to marketing and everything in between, this podcast is for you, the conservation visual storyteller who is ready to make an impact. Let's dive in.

[music]

0:02:13.6 JH: Well, Gretchen, welcome, welcome, welcome to Impact: The Conservation Photography Podcast. It's so awesome to have you on here.

0:02:21.0 Gretchen Kay Stuart: Hi, Jaymi. I'm trilled to be your guest. I deeply admire you, and your work is so important. It's just a huge honor for me to be invited to the podcast.

0:02:32.4 JH: Oh my gosh, I'm glad that we can't see each other 'cause I'm turning red right now.

[laughter]

0:02:38.6 JH: Well, so Gretchen, you are part of Wild Idea Lab. And inside of Wild Idea Lab, we have a annual project grant, and you are the winner, and I'm so excited to talk with you about your project itself, but also just your entire grant writing process. This is such a big part of what we do in conservation photography and filmmaking. We're constantly looking for funding, and grants are a big deal, so I'd love to pick your brain about what that process was like for you.

0:03:08.0 GS: Absolutely.

0:03:10.2 JH: Great. So, actually, I don't wanna dive in too fast. Let's back up. I always get into a rush. First, tell me a little bit about you. How did you get started in conservation photography?

0:03:22.5 GS: Well, hello everyone, I'm Gretchen. I'm from Portland, Maine, but I've been living and traveling in my van full-time for over two and a half years now. And wildlife conservation photography has become a mid-life dream career change for me. I'm an animal lover and had big plans of becoming a National Geographic Wildlife photographer back in high school. So, after graduating in 1995, I took a break and traveled cross-country for a while, but I ended up having a career in graphic design and worked in environmental and nutritional science and had always dreamt of returning to the road. So, a couple of years ago, I found myself in a position of freedom where I could do so, and planned a three-month road trip.

0:04:11.7 GS: During that road trip, my eyes were opened to the destruction that climate change has caused with wildfire and hurricane damage and the expansive logging and pollution that just didn't exist or wasn't as noticeable back in the '90s. And I was visiting national parks with their visitor centers and learning about the many species of animals that are being threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and warming temperatures. So, the decline of our planet that I was witnessing first-hand really hit me hard, but at the same time, I was hiking and reconnecting with nature and wildlife in a way that I had been missing and yearning for for so long, and my happiness levels were just skyrocketing, being happy and wild. [chuckle]

0:05:01.2 JH: Yay.

0:05:03.1 GS: Yeah, so when the three months were up, I decided that I wanted to make a big life change, and I let go of my apartment. I minimized my life to fit into a 8 x 10 storage unit, and I hit the road with the goal of raising awareness for threatened species and climate change using photography.

0:05:22.1 JH: Wow, that's an amazing story, I have to say. I think that it shows a sheer level of dedication to what it is that you're doing. How has that decision to be basically a mobile person affected, or impacted, or assisted your ability to document stories?

0:05:40.5 GS: Oh, I don't think I would have been able to do so without it. I never would have found the project I'm working on now that I won the grant for without my ability to travel. So, it's a huge deal.

0:05:58.9 JH: Wow, and actually, we met when you were in the midst of working on this project, so tell us about what that project is.

0:06:06.4 GS: Yeah. So, my project is about the Cascade red fox, which is a rare and threatened subspecies that is endemic to Washington State's sub-alpine regions. And besides the threat of climate change, another factor contributing to their decline is the feeding and habituation of the foxes by tourists in Mount Rainier and other areas where roads occur at those elevations due to vehicle collisions. So my project is long-term and has a few different phases, but the first phase, which I won the grant for focuses on the importance of not feeding wildlife and features a fox known by biologists as Whitefoot, who is the apparent matriarch of paradise in Mount Rainier, and she's an old fox first discovered in 2011 and has been easily documented by her distinctive marking of one white foot, so she is the inspiration for my first phase of this project.

0:07:14.2 JH: Did you first come across her as a traveler in Mount Rainier area?

0:07:19.6 GS: I did. So I was originally... My plan was to travel around to national parks and document the damage that was taking place from climate change year after year and do a comparison of what was happening, but right as I was planning on starting that, COVID-19 hit, and so it kind of put that whole idea to the wayside and when... All the national parks shut down and when the national parks started opening again, Mount Rainier was one of the first that I went to, and I was just kind of hoping and praying that I would find a species that wasn't really well known, that was threatened by climate, that I could really focus on, and it just worked out that I was driving up toward paradise that first day, and I saw this white fluff of fur on the top of a snow bank and I literally said out loud, "What is that?"

0:08:38.8 GS: And pulled my van over and there she was, Whitefoot, exquisitely beautiful, standing on the snow bank, and I got out and started taking some photos of her, and I got back into my car because another vehicle was coming from the opposite direction, and I kind of waved at it and pointed at her because she was in the road, so the car would see her and stop, and it did. And Whitefoot walked right over to the driver's side and sat in the middle of the road, and the next thing I knew I saw this hand come out the window, throwing potato chips out and right as I was about to roll down my window and say, "No!" I heard this beep, and a ranger came pulling up behind and Whitefoot scurried off into the woods, and the ranger kind of reprimanded the person for feeding the fox.

0:09:39.0 GS: And so that gave me a clue of, "Okay, there's a wildlife feeding problem going on." But then I knew that Whitefoot was different than a normal red fox. She just looked different, and that prompted me to Google and research what is this fox, and that's when I found out about her subspecies and that it is a threatened little known subspecies, and that led me to find Cascades Carnivore Project, which is a group of biologists who are working to save rare carnivores in the Cascades, and I reached out to Jocelyn Akins, which is the conservation director, Cascades Carnivore Project, and found out about ways that I could volunteer and volunteering with her ended up leading to meeting Kayla Dreher which is a...

0:10:49.2 GS: She's a biological science tech for Mount Rainier National Park, and I got to follow her around and photograph her as she worked in the field checking trail cams and finding hair samples. And that led to being connected with Jeff Bradley, who is a mammalogy collections manager at Burke Museum in Seattle, who allowed me to come and photograph a kit, one of Whitefoot's kits, actually, that had been hit by a car and killed in 2018 due to being raised next to the road, and this kit had been frozen for two years and it just happened to be that the timing was perfect. And I got to go to the Burke Museum in Seattle and photograph Jeff as he prepped the kit for a skin study. So everything just started falling into place.

0:11:51.1 GS: And in the midst of all of that, I found your podcast, and I swear it was like it was made for me, [chuckle] because I was taking these steps and I was making progress, but I was really lost when it came to writing my first article and how to get in touch with editors and how to write a grant, and all of that was just completely new to me. So I would download the podcast episodes and listen to them on repeat as I drove around in the mountains with no service so that all of the information would really sink in. [chuckle] And then I ended up that printing all of the amazing free downloads that you have within the podcast and using all of those tools to help me and direct me, and I really wouldn't be where I am at this point without that just incredible wealth of knowledge that you've provided. So I am eternally grateful to you.

0:13:05.6 JH: Oh my gosh, I can't even tell you what it means to hear that. I'm so grateful to you for putting all of this into practice because the whole reason why I do what I do is to get tools into the hands of people like you who wanna go do something big and amazing with it, so thank goodness we crossed paths. Yay.

0:13:27.2 GS: Yes. [chuckle]

0:13:28.3 JH: When you're thinking about a topic, so phase one of your project is about bringing awareness to the dangers of feeding wildlife on the road and what that can mean to very much shortening their life expectancy, that's a topic that people are basically aware of, and it's something that they hear often, especially if anyone visits national parks or state parks, they see signs. So, how are you digging into that to approach it in a different way that might make a real true impact on people and wake people up from a message that they're used to hearing?

0:14:03.5 GS: Well, one thing that I really am trying to do is to use photography in order to relay this story. I think that when people see captivating images... Ingrains in their mind what they've read and hearing, "Don't feed wildlife," and "Fed fox equals dead fox." Those are great little slogans, but I don't think they really hit home when people see this fox with its adorable pathetic-looking eyes [chuckle] begging for food. All of that goes out the window and they just wanna take care of this wild animal, and if they see what happens when they do feed wildlife, I think it would be... Make much more of an impact for them to stop and not feed the animal and just observe the animal in all of its beauty. And that's one thing that I hope to do with the first phase of my project.

0:15:16.8 JH: I'm just loving that this project is also... The first phase being on a topic that people hear about, but the subject matter that you're photographing is something really special. It's this little known rare subspecies of fox that I don't think a lot of people would recognize as being something special. So I feel like by making her, Whitefoot, being her, this ambassador animal for this issue, it reminds people that you... Maybe you saw a deer, but maybe it's a special kind of deer, or maybe you saw a raccoon, but maybe it's a special kind of raccoon. And so, almost I hope that it makes people value animals because they never really know what they're looking at until they dig in a little bit. I hope that makes sense. [chuckle]

0:16:03.7 GS: Yes, and it's absolutely true because Whitefoot has actually become famous in Mount Rainier because she sits by the side of the road and begs tourists for food. She's been seen a lot, and people end up becoming curious about her because she's so different looking than a normal fox, and they end up Googling and trying to find out what they saw and becoming aware of the subspecies. So yeah, it's a real double-edged sword because Whitefoot is making her threatened subspecies known by presenting herself, but at the same time, her kits have been killed, and this is a rare species that we can't afford to lose to vehicle collisions. So, educating people is key in that regard.

0:17:11.1 JH: So you've broken your project into three phases, and I would love to know why did you break it into three phases, and what are the other two that we haven't talked about yet?

0:17:21.2 GS: So, I broke it into three phases originally because I became so obsessed and excited about the project that a million ideas kept popping into my head. And in order to organize it in my own mind, I had to break it down into phases. And then when applying for the grant, I knew that in order for judges to understand that this was not just a one-and-done little article I was working on, this was a long-term project that I was ready to dedicate several years of my life to... And bundling it all together just seemed too overwhelming. So, I broke it up into the three phases and explained the first phase, which is the articles about Whitefoot that I hope to have published.

0:18:13.0 GS: And the second phase is, I want to follow the work of the biologists at Cascades Carnivore Project and the National Park Service as they work to get an accurate number of individuals of the Cascade red fox in order to uplist the subspecies on the Washington State endangered and threatened species list. So once that is accomplished, which it's on the docket and hopefully will be accomplished soon, they'll be able to get more funding and expand their research, and I want to follow and document, and tell the story of their efforts in preserving the subspecies and helping it to make it to come back.

0:19:15.0 GS: And that's another whole story that I hope to pitch in the future. The third phase of my project is, I hope to find a mother fox and document her raising her kids with photo and video over the span of a year if a mother with kids can be found, and there were no kids found or noted by researchers last year, so that's something that may take time because this is a really rare species other than the few habituated foxes. So I'm hoping that that's something I'll be able to find within a couple of years and accomplish as well.

0:20:01.0 JH: That's amazing. And so we've talked a bit about the impact of feeding animals on the road side, and that we kind of get introduced to the species through that, but then really it's a species that is severely impacted by climate change. How so? How does that factor into their life?

0:20:18.5 GS: So, the warming climate is causing trees to be able to grow in places where it was too cold for them to take root before, so the sub-alpine meadows where the foxes survive and depend on small rodents and other prey are shrinking rapidly, and so that is affecting their survival.

0:20:55.2 JH: Got it. So what do you think that you'll do? I'm particularly interested in the third phase of your project where you wanna document a female and her kids over time, and I'm curious what impact or I guess what deliverables you wanna create from that, and what action you want people to take when they see the lives, the upbringing and this family structure of the subspecies?

0:21:19.6 GS: Well, of course, it's just another step in creating awareness for this subspecies that most people have no awareness of, but also it's just something that's never been done before. There is no footage or documentation with photography of this subspecies raising her kids and if this ends up being an animal that goes extinct, I really hope to have this beautiful creature on record for future generations to at least be able to look back on.

0:21:56.8 JH: Okay, I have to point out right now, because you know how I champion the idea that there are stories happening absolutely everywhere, and that you can find stories in your own backyard, you can find stories, pretty... Important conservation stories happening pretty much everywhere you look. You literally were driving around, enjoying a park, saw a fox, and it led you to doing something that no one has ever done before in documenting the species. That is exciting, and I think that so many conservation photographers or anyone who is starting to now embrace, they're early and embracing the fact that they are conservation photographers, underestimate that this could happen to them too, they can accidentally stumble upon something really important and do important work, and I think that you discovering this and doing so much diligent chasing down of storyline that is leading you to doing something that's never been done, it's flat out inspiring.

0:22:56.4 GS: Thank you. I really appreciate that, and it's definitely something I'm excited about as well, but the photography and video part of a mother raising her kits has never been done before, but the brilliant biologists at Cascades Carnivore Project and at Mount Rainier have been working on researching this subspecies and saving them for well over a decade. So, their inspiring work has really helped me in so many ways, and their generosity and time has... I couldn't have dove into this project the way that I have without their help, so they really deserve more credit than anybody.

0:23:51.5 JH: Oh, I love that. So a huge round of applause goes out to them and really to all of the researchers, the biologists, the organizations that welcome photographers in and kind of encourage us or give us space to pursue these things that we feel really passionate about recording too. I love it when photographers turn the credit back to the biologists and all of the many people who get them into position to be able to create visuals, so I really appreciate that you went there on that. That's really awesome.

0:24:25.2 GS: Oh, absolutely, and another thing I would love to promote for a minute if I could, is that Cascades Carnivore Project has an excellent citizen science program where they're asking for help in finding scats, fox scats in the field. So hikers can look for fox scats as they're hiking. And there are little sample kits that they can pick up at the entrance of the park, and if they find scats, there's a protocol and instruction there for them to know what to do, and in doing so, they're really contributing to the progress of getting accurate numbers of this species and learning about what exactly is this species eating and how is their prey being affected by climate change and how is that in turn going to affect their survival. So, visitors to Mount Rainier can really contribute to helping conservation of these animals by contributing to Cascades Carnivore Project.

0:25:38.2 JH: Oh my gosh, that is such an incredible program to have up and running, first of all, for science, yes, of course, but also the idea that you're inviting visitors to experience and to bond and to connect with a location on such an in-depth level, because now they're kind of on a treasure hunt in a way, and they're looking for something in there, once they find something, they're asking questions about this natural history track and sign questions about what they're finding, what a cool way to experience a hike, let alone contribute to science, what a brilliant program.

0:26:15.2 GS: Oh, absolutely, and the people involved are just kind and genuine people. It's really... I'm really grateful for have been introduced to this program and involved with it.

0:26:32.7 JH: Wonderful, well, and now you've got some funding to get you right back out the door and working on this again, and I'd love to turn the conversation toward your grant and specifically things about writing the grant that I think listeners could find really interesting and helpful and valuable. Okay, so just... I'm sure that listeners are already familiar, but just in case. I just wanna set this up a little bit. Inside a Wild Idea Lab, a portion of all membership dues are put in a pool, and every year we take that pool and offer it as a grant to our members, so everyone applies and then one member wins the grant. And so this year we were able to offer $1200 for a member to work on a project and Gretchen, you won that. And I'm curious, what was it like for you to dive into this particular grant, what was your mindset going into it, and what did you do to prepare all of your materials?

0:27:31.4 GS: Well, this was the first grant I've ever applied for and...

0:27:35.3 JH: What? [chuckle]

0:27:37.4 GS: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I'm completely new to this field, like I said, this is a big career change for me. So, this was my first grant I had ever applied for, and I would have been completely lost if it hadn't been for your podcast. Again, I hope it's okay that I gush about your podcast from here, [chuckle] but new podcast episodes that explained the six must have shots for a photo essay and the essential elements of a photo project budget and steps to scoring grants, those episodes gave me every bit of information I needed in order to learn how to write a grant. And one thing that, one of those episodes, I believe it was the grant writing episode mentioned was how beneficial it is to get a letter of support from any biologist or scientist you may be working with, which is what led me to ask Jocelyn from Cascades Carnivore Project for a letter of support. And she wrote the most eloquent supportive letter for me, it actually brought me to tears when I first read it. And it turned out that that letter of support was really what put me over the edge and helped me to win the grant with the judges, so I'm just so grateful to her for doing that for me.

0:29:09.8 JH: Oh, that's wonderful. And yes, indeed, it was a really tight race, so I gave all of the grant... I didn't even look at anything. I gave all of the grant applications and the packages to a panel of three judges who have nothing to do with Wild Idea Lab and have no clue who any of the photographers are, so very blank slate. And they have a score sheet, and so every application gets a fair shake on a certain number of criteria, and they don't talk to each other while they're judging, so they didn't know how anyone else was judging either. And when I got the score sheets back and tallied everything up, the top grants were points apart, and yours won, you had the highest number of points, and I asked the judges to provide just a few senses of feedback, 'cause I like to give constructive feedback to every single applicant so they know what stood out or where they can improve. And the judges said specifically, between you and another one, one of the judges was waffling and she was like, the letter really showed that you had collaborators who had bought into the project, and that meant... That built trust that you were really gonna have an impact with your project, it really did make a difference, it was that one thing that just pushed it right over the top. So, well, done on getting that in place, and thank you to the biologist who supported you. Yay!

0:30:33.5 GS: Yes, thank you. [chuckle]

0:30:36.6 JH: Well, so what all did you put together for this application, 'cause it was a really thorough application, how did you go about writing all of the content for this?

0:30:47.6 GS: So as I have been working on this project, aside from photography and hiking around and taking photographs, I'm also always doing a whole lot of research and constantly taking notes and learning a lot from the biologists and so when I started putting my project statement together, I was basically taking my notes and turning it into an essay and that became my project statement. And then with the budget like I said, I used the steps that you outlined in your podcast episode, and in addition to that, I put links to things that I may need in the budget. So for example, when I go back to the Mount Rainier this March, I'm going to need snow chains for my tires, and so I put that in the budget as an item I needed to purchase and I put a link to the online snow chain tires that I plan on purchasing. So I tried to make it as detailed as possible and... Oh yeah, so I interviewed Jocelyn with the intention of writing an article and gathering as much expertise from her as possible and facts, because I really want the information to be accurate, that's really important to me, and it's definitely, definitely important to her. So, I took all of those interview notes that I had had and morphed them together into my project statement.

0:32:44.7 JH: Got it, awesome. In addition to written material, you have to pull together a portfolio of images to show where your skill sets are, how you envision your story, really show the grant judges that you have this project kind of locked in and that you know how to tell a story through photos. What was it like pulling that portfolio together?

0:33:10.2 GS: That part of the project is really fun because I am... Photography is my passion, and learning to tell a story with photography is something, again, that I haven't done yet, but I'm doing everything possible to become really good at. So, that was a really fun part of the process for me and I already had a lot of shots that I loved from not only of Whitefoot, but of being in the field with Kayla and then being at the Burke Museum with Jeff. So I had a lot of shots in mind that I knew I could put together to tell a story, and it was really fun putting those together, and again, I used your podcast, the six must-have shots for a photo essay in order to guide me along and know what types of images I should choose to create that story.

0:34:19.5 JH: Oh, that's fantastic. I think it shows... And actually, I pulled up your portfolio just to have in front of me as well, and you've got such great character shots and detail shots, you're showing action in the field, you're showing the biologists and the people. You're showing landscapes, there's so much that's here to show that you've really started to dig into this story very well, and all of the images are unique from each other. So you took that training and ran with it and did a really great, great job.

0:34:51.5 GS: Oh, thank you, that's so great to hear, because that's, of course, extremely important to me as a skill. [chuckle]

0:35:00.1 JH: So I have one more question for you, which is, we kind of talked about what the project's looking like, and I'm curious what is gonna happen with it when you get back out into the field, what are you gonna tackle first, and what are your plans to shoot, and of course, if you wanna keep anything hidden, close to your chest, you don't wanna give away any secrets that's okay too, but I'm just curious, when you get out there and you start working on this, what's that gonna look like?

0:35:27.8 GS: So I'm excited to get back, I miss Mount Rainier incredibly and the foxes and I'm really excited to get back. From what I can tell on Instagram, Whitefoot is surviving the winter well, and I'm hoping to find her again and get a few more shots on my shot list of her, but also I have an idea of writing a kids version of this story and trying to teach them young about not feeding wildlife and Jocelyn has a couple of kiddos of her own, and so I have this idea of getting some shots of her in the field with her children because she actually takes them along with her to work oftentimes. So, I'm hoping to get a few more shots on my shot list and be able to come up with a kids version of this story that I would like to pitch to an editor and as well as coming up with more adult versions of the article, but my biggest priority right now in furthering my career is contacting and building relationships with editors who might be interested in publishing my work...

0:36:56.2 GS: And also getting out there with my camera almost every day to constantly advance my skill level and build my portfolio. As I travel, I'm always typing "wildlife refuge" into my maps to see what pops up and I've been photographing a range of birds and other wildlife species, so that if an editor contacts me in the future looking for images of a specific species, I just may have some on hand. And because my fox project is self funded other than this grant I just won, I've recently made my favorite photo of Whitefoot available online as a print in order to sort of fundraise for myself, because my goals require a lot of field work over what will likely be several years. Other than those few habituated individuals, these foxes are really hard to find. So, print sales will help me spend more time in the field and volunteering rather than having to find unrelated graphic design work to make ends meet.

0:38:00.5 JH: Oh, my gosh, I did not know that you had prints available, where can people go to be able to purchase prints and support you?

0:38:08.8 GS: So it's actually just my one print of Whitefoot that I have available so far, which is the shot that you chose to use as the grant announcement feature and...

0:38:22.8 JH: Oh my gosh. It's such a good photo. I love it.

0:38:25.5 GS: Thank you. I really lucked out when she wandered over to that perfect backdrop, I was just like, "Oh my gosh." I was actually videoing her with my iPhone 'cause I would just hang out with her from a distance, and she wandered into that perfect backdrop, and I was just, "Oh my gosh." And I threw my iPhone down and picked up my camera and started shooting and it's absolutely my favorite shot I've ever taken, and so I put that up on Fine Art America. I haven't linked it to my website or anything yet, but I think if you just Google "Gretchen Kay Stuart" it could be found. And also, one thing I really would like to point out for people new to this field like I am, is not to let a lack of experience or gear get in your way because... Well, for one thing, my CV for this field of work is pretty shabby, [chuckle] and the fact that I can't yet list a lot of experience doesn't seem to matter as much as I expected it would, but my favorite shot I've ever taken, which is this shot that has gotten the most recognition and print request was also shot with a Canon T2i, my old camera before I could afford to upgrade my gear, so I really hope that people out there aspiring to make an impact don't let lack of gear or experience hold them back.

0:39:54.8 JH: I love that so much. I wanna put five exclamation points behind what you just said 'cause it's really true. [chuckle] It's so much about who is behind the lens, not exactly what lens you're using. And I wanna point out also that I am going to do the Google search on Fine Art America, grab that exact link in order for people to purchase prints. So, if you all are interested in seeing the image that we're talking about and purchasing any sort of a print to help Gretchen along in her work, you can go to jaymih.com/68, the number 68 for this episode. So, jaymih.com/68. You'll be able to find the link to Gretchen's really beautiful photo of Whitefoot.

0:40:42.3 GS: Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate that shout out and support.

0:40:47.1 JH: Absolutely. Well, Gretchen, you are going places. It's so exciting to see everything that you're doing and, frankly, you're doing everything right. You're being very methodical in a lot of ways, doing your research, really seeking out education and then implementing what you learn, but you're also allowing yourself to think creatively and be an artist and to champion yourself and to be confident about moving forward through this. And I cannot stress enough how important that confidence level is, and taking chances and taking risks. And I didn't realize that this was the very first grant that you'd ever applied for and you won, so it just shows that having that confidence [chuckle] and just saying, "Hey, I'm gonna take a chance. I'm gonna go for it," that can really pay off.

0:41:35.3 GS: Absolutely, it sure can.

0:41:38.2 JH: Well, it's an honor to get to work with you inside of Wild Idea Lab, and it is a joy to get to see everything that you create. Thank you so much for being a person who is dedicating your talent and skills to conservation. As I always say, I'm incredibly grateful to you and to everyone else who does this work 'cause it's not easy. It's a really, really difficult work, and it's amazing to see you do it with such joy and enthusiasm.

0:42:04.3 GS: Well, thank you so much, Jaymi. And again, I just can't thank you enough for your eternal cheerleading and support with all of the people in your lab and listening to your podcast. You're just such a valuable person in this industry, and I really am eternally grateful for you.

0:42:31.9 JH: Oh man, started out the episode with making me blush and ending at the same way.

[laughter]

0:42:36.2 JH: Well, hopefully one of these days when you're up in Washington, I can drive up there from Oregon, and we can socially distant car camp, and I can really see you at work in the field.

0:42:45.2 GS: Oh, that would be so much fun. That would be excellent. I hope we can do that.

[music]

0:42:50.9 JH: Awesome. Before we wrap up, I would love to ask you to do one quick thing: Subscribe to this podcast. As a subscriber, you'll not only know when each week's episode goes live, but you'll also get insider goodies like bonus episodes. You might miss them unless you're subscribed, and I don't want you to miss out on a thing. So, please tap that subscribe button, and I will talk to you next week.

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