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Increasing diversity in marine conservation backed by $10,000 matching gift

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(December, 2020) A $10,000 matching donation, dedicated to Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in marine conservation, was donated this December.

WDC recognizes that the field of marine mammal research and conservation lacks diversity and is dedicated to increasing access into this field.  Acknowledging that unpaid internships prevent many students from participating in this field, WDC will use these funds to create its first paid intern position.

“We were surprised by this gift but in the best way possible!” says Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Executive Director for North America. “Internships are the gateway into the field of marine mammal science and conservation and are commonly unpaid in this field. Access should not be limited by income and this donation allows us to take steps to remove this barrier.”

On average, a person who is currently employed in marine mammal conservation or research has successfully completed up to three unpaid internships, equivalent to working for free for nearly a year, an insurmountable barrier for those who cannot afford to participate.

Asmutis-Silvia goes on to explain that the organization has taken several steps over the past year to address this issue, including the creation of a Diversity Advisory Council, broadening its reach in searching for job applicants, and modifying requirements for intern candidates.

We recognize that whales play an integral role in the resiliency of our climate while, at the same time, acknowledge that climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color, a demographic that significantly underrepresented in the field of marine mammal science and conservation. The more inclusive we are, the better our work will be.”

NOTE: The gift was given by Ellen McDonald, on behalf of Norma M. Ricci, and will match donations made in December and January, up to $10,000, specifically for creating a more inclusive internship. Norma Ricci was a nature lover and a long-time supporter of numerous conservation groups throughout her 92 years. She died of Covid-19 earlier this year. WDC feels privileged to honor Norma’s memory, and her commitment to conservation, thanks to donations received in her memory.

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