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LET'S BROADEN OUR DEFINITION OF GREEN JOBS: One Way to Build a Bigger Movement

About the Author

Tara Arthur is an International Development professional who is passionate about youth and nature. She has been part of the C&NN Natural Leaders core team since its founding in 2008. She is also co-founder of Millennial Youth-Led Expeditions, promoting youth-led cooperative recreation, stewardship, education and research.

I have often hesitated to write something like this for fear that my credentials weren’t that of a traditional environmentalist, but I do want to speak to you about what I hope will be a growing trend.

As we look at the challenges facing our world, from poverty to climate change, it’s clear that these problems are interconnected. The good news is that our society is striving to be more aware of our natural surroundings, and how we’re all connected through nature.

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Now it’s time to incorporate the concept of cross pollination into our everyday lives, including our current jobs and future careers.

Some people may think that getting kids outside and fighting pollution are separate pursuits. But can I really be someone so deeply passionate about reconnecting children and nature without also addressing global development challenges?

Some might think that a person needs to choose, that you can’t be a leader in both the children and nature movement and in environmentalism, that those two worlds are somehow separate. I disagree.

Having champions that work across multiple sectors is a very good thing.

I’ll focus here on one aspect of cross-pollination:  the way we define green jobs and green job professionals.

To some, a green job seeker might be someone with a degree in biology, a love of hiking, and a focus on energy efficiency — installing solar panels, for example. But what about the person who has a degree in finance, enjoys camping, who mentors a group of young people outdoors, who introduces children to nature? These are all green jobs.

When describing green jobs and green job professionals, we occasionally neglect the fact that green jobs exist in many forms, potentially in every discipline, field and sector.

Green professionals and green jobs come in different forms. Some of us wear suits, others boots, but what unites us is our love for the natural world and our interest in incorporating it into our lives and the lives of others.We can’t say that nature is for everyone if we don’t allow ourselves to appreciate it in our own unique ways.

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So when you see that budget analyst working weekends to help their local nature club get its finances in order,  or the athletic coach who uses their outdoor leadership experience to motivate a team and inspire others, ask yourself: Aren’t these green job professionals, too? Let’s celebrate the fact that these people have managed to merge their jobs and their passion.

While we’re at it, let’s find more ways people can integrate the natural world into their daily lives. All children need and deserve access to nature, but not all children will have the faculty or interest to turn it into a traditional green career. If we can show young (and old) people that there are many ways to learn outside and that learning can lead to a multitude of career paths, then we’re a larger movement. The first step to that is to broaden our minds about how we define green jobs.

Additional Reading and Resources

The Natural Leaders Network

The Nature-Rich Career: How a Child’s Outdoor Experiences Helped Shape a Young Woman’s Future

New Nature-Smart Careers: 11 for a Nature-Rich Future and Right Now

It’s Time to Redefine Green Jobs: Thoughts Following the First-Ever White House Summit on Environmental Education

C&NN’s Natural Leaders Partner with U.S. Fish & Wildlife 

 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for an excellent post TA. Too many “environmentalists” work in silos, with each championing one issue over another. “Cross-polination,” as you say, is key to everything! Every single one of us has something we can do, something to contribute, and can be a bridge between issues, skills, and communities.

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