Conservancy Volunteer Uses Hearts and Antarctica to Save the Everglades
In her career as a science educator, Jump develops and evaluates innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives, leads strategic planning, acquires resources for schools (over $100 million), facilitates leadership training and renewal. She was writing grants to encourage girls and women to go into science fields 40 years ago, long before STEM programs were trending.
Three years ago, the Indiana snowbird became one of five female boat captains of 75 captains leading electric boat tours at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “I had never driven a boat,” she said.
In November, she will head to Antarctica with 95 women from around the world as part of Homeward Bound’s 18 month, intensive leadership training program designed to raise awareness about women as leaders in sciencerelated fields.
Last year’s Homeward Bound group included Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a leader in the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming. Launched in 2016, the inaugural Homeward Bound program culminated in the largest ever female expedition to Antarctica.
Over a decade, the program aims to build a worldwide network of 1,000 female science professionals with a focus on increasing the number of women in leadership roles and furthering global sustainability.
This year’s group will spend three weeks in Antarctica in November and December. Jump thinks Antarctica — called ground zero for climate change — is the perfect place to connect Southwest Floridians to what’s happening to the environment in Florida.
Antarctica is one of the last parts of the world where humans haven’t had a massive footprint, and yet one of the fastest warming areas on the planet. “I want my Homeward Bound project to focus on the Conservancy,” she said. “There’s only one Everglades in the world, and it’s being destroyed every single hour, so I’ll do anything I can to help the Conservancy’s cause, especially through an international platform for women in STEM.”
Jump intends to make the expedition a virtual field trip through Facebook Live sessions. “That’s my goal: to make this come alive for all of us and to give everyone the experience and connect them with what happens in their own backyard.” Science is important, but Jump believes change will only happen one heart at a time. “While the facts and reports coming out about climate change are scary, I’m an optimist. I think the Conservancy’s work is about optimism and Homeward Bound is about hope. It’s about a brighter future.
It’s about what we can do together. I believe if you can change people’s hearts, you can change the
world.” She hopes to spark dialogue that encourages people to find solutions to environmental issues together. “While we need to know the facts, while we need to read the research, while we need to listen to the scientists, I don’t think that’s what’s really going to cause change. It’s going to be listening and talking with each other about our values and our vision.
It’s about sustaining the Everglades and our planet for the future. To me, that’s the work of the heart.”
Before she was selected for Homeward Bound, Jump began her heart mission in Southwest Florida.
She said it was love at first sight in the parking lot at the Conservancy for a volunteer orientation. “I knew when I moved here that I would like the warm weather and the beaches, but I didn’t know that I would fall in love with the wildlife, the wading birds, the estuaries, the beauty that surrounds us every
Her goal as a boat captain is to advance the mission and vision of the Conservancy to protect the water, the wildlife, the land and our own well-being, one tour group at a time by connecting them to nature, whether it’s through a turtle, a wading bird, a crocodile, the estuaries or the mangroves. “I have the opportunity to help visitors fall in love in a 45-minute eco boat tour experience to connect to nature and our beloved Everglades in a way they are not,” she said. “I think through their experience they walk out caring more and wanting to learn more. For me, it’s a love affair.”
Sign up to follow Jump’s journey at https://homewardboundprojects.com.au/. To learn about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida: https://www.conservancy.org/.
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