Janeczka Richardson-Johnson, Conservation Officer, Anguilla National Trust
What is your job?
My name is Janeczka Richardson-Johnson and I work as a conservation officer at the Anguilla National Trust (ANT).
How long have you been working for your organisation?
I first started with the national trust as a school intern and after graduating, was hired full time as the coastal and marine conservation officer. I have been working for the ANT for almost nine years now.
What inspires you most about what you do?
I think what inspires me most to do my job is ultimately my love for the Earth. Our planet is special because of its ability to sustain life, and the life it sustains (whether human beings, plants or animals) is precious. Growing up I often wondered why people referred to nature as “mother nature” and not “father nature” but then one day it dawned on me, that perhaps this is the case because only women can bring life into this world and that is exactly what the natural environment brings each and every one of us, life.
Why do you think your work is so important?
Often we as human beings are under the false impression that we are the most important organisms occupying this planet and rather than living lives that reflect a harmonious relationship with our biodiversity, we misuse, over exploit and destroy it. I believe as a conservation officer I give our biodiversity a voice.
Whether through public awareness and education of our fragile and important ecosystems or through working directly with our unique wildlife. I believe that informing and reminding people of the connection we have and delicate balance we all should endeavour to maintain is vitally important for both the survival of our natural environment and mankind alike.
What’s it like working as a woman in your organisation?
When I first started with the ANT it was all women at the office and we have always respected, supported and encouraged each other. A few years later the office expanded to include a few males and they continue to show us respect and support in the same way, never underestimating our abilities to work in this sometimes very labour intensive field.
Do you think the industry you work in has changed over the last 100 years for women?
The span of 100 years is indeed a long time for mindsets to be changed towards women and their abilities to be more than just house wives and bearers of children. I have had the privilege of meeting and hearing of some extraordinary and amazing women in my line of work, doing jobs that would have traditionally been recognised as more male led. Despite that perception, their work preceded them and spoke volumes, demanding the respect of both genders in my field.
What question would you like to ask another inspirational woman from one of our international organisations?
The question I would like to ask other inspirational women in my field would be, how do you balance conservation work with family life (husband and kids)?
Occasionally conservation work can take you away from home for a number of weeks at a time (missing very important milestones like anniversaries, birthdays, graduations etc.) or even the protection of some wildlife can be very dangerous, like in the case of illegal poaching or trafficking.
How do you find the balance between your two loves?
What is the Anguilla National Trust?
The Anguilla National Trust was founded in 1989 with the mandate to sustain the island’s natural and cultural heritage through active management and education for the benefit of today’s and tomorrow’s generations.
The ANT has remained true to that mandate and, since its formation, has been instrumental in the creation of Anguilla’s national parks, conservation areas, and heritage sites and continue to be involved in their day-to-day management.
The ANT conducts essential research and conservation work, including habitat and species monitoring and works year-round to raise public awareness about the fragility, complexity, and beauty of the island’s natural and cultural resources.
Above all, the ANT acts as voice for Anguilla’s national heritage. The ANT has been in housed in the Old Customs Building in The Valley since 1991.