Wow, it hasn’t even been a week, yet I feel so at home. I’m Jenna Coyle and I’m the new kid on the block. I was born and raised in Cape Town, making its vast coastlines and icy oceans my home. I’ve always had an unwavering passion for our natural environment and for all those who call it home.
Growing up, I was always an outdoors kind of kid. Constantly finding my happiness in and around nature. I’ve always been in awe of the way the natural environment works, how it always is able to remain beautiful, even in the toughest of times. But it was only a little later on in life that I started to realise and experience, first hand, the effects we as humans are having on our beautiful planet. I started to dig a little deeper, beyond all the sugar-coated documentaries and wildlife photography and what I started to discover only intensified my passion further. I no longer wanted to just be another bystander but instead I wanted to take proactive steps in making a change for the better, no matter how big or small.
By this time, I had finished high school and started my first year of tertiary education at Stellenbosch University, studying business and entrepreneurship. I’ve always been a free spirit, never really being able to confine my interest to just one thing so I thought why not get the basics of business, that way, whichever direction I eventually chose, I had some fundamentals to start with. However, it didn’t take long for me to realise that business was just not for me.
At the end of my first year, it was time for me to make another big decision about what it was that I wanted to do. I juggled various options, comparing the pros and cons and eventually, despite my immense lack of interest in business and the corporate world, I decided to study corporate communications at Varsity College, Cape Town. I started my degree with extreme excitement as this was a new chapter in my life. Yet again I found myself lacking interest in the corporate alignment of my degree. I felt that my creativity had died, my inspiration was low and overall, I truly did not believe that this was the career/life path for me. But this time, I had a plan, not necessarily a tangible one, but one that I was not going to give up on.
Come November 2017, after completing my 2nd year of corporate communications I decided to do what I believe I was put on this earth to do, and that is to help our environment. I knew what I wanted to do but was still slightly unsure about how I was going to do it, as I did not have sufficient qualifications to study nature conservation. So I decided to start small. I created my own environmental awareness website, with the aim to educate and inspire as many individuals as possible about the state of our planet and the ways in which we can work together to better it.
Over the years, I have involved myself in various conservation programs and initiatives, namely: Matang Wildlife Centre in Borneo, rehabilitating orangutans and sun bears who had fallen victim to the palm oil industry. I completed a marine biology/conservation course through the Two Oceans Aquarium, voluntarily working for them thereafter. I spent time in the Zimbabwean bush, again voluntarily working on conservation projects and the list goes on. My plan for this year, 2018, was to continue giving my support in the conversation realm so when I received the offer from WildEarth to work as a social/digital media and broadcasting assistant for safariLIVE and diveLIVE I was over the moon. I actually couldn’t believe it at first. I couldn’t understand how this incredible opportunity, combining two of my biggest interests, conservation and media, presented itself to me at the perfect time and as my first major job.
My disbelief soon subsided as my excitement started to set in. There wasn’t much time for me to think about anything other than this amazing opportunity that was about to become a reality. It wasn’t long after finalising things with Lou, Gerry and Emily via Skype, that I was packing my bags for the move to my new home, the Djuma Research Camp, in Sabi Sand. So… this is where I am now as I type this. I am sitting in my room after being D2 for the sunrise safari today, being sung to by the exquisite birds who call this place home. I am filled with gratitude, appreciation and utter excitement about what is to come, the learning that will and has already taken place and growing I will do.
I am committed to giving it my all and to contributing as best as I can to WildEarth, ensuring that this extremely innovative, educational and passionate company only grows and I along with it. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me, there was no way I was going to let it slip away. So watch this space, there is a lot to come.