Josh Bellamy never thought his last semester of college would look (and feel) like this. Attending classes virtually, doing group projects through digital breakout rooms, and spending hours in front of a computer screen are his new normal. Though Bellamy’s spends most of his days inside, he has still found a way to engage with wildlife and cultivate a deeper appreciation for education work.
As vice president of the Morehouse Moregreen campus chapter at Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, and Spelman College, Bellamy advocates for a more accessible conservation movement. Through recruitment and raising awareness via the chapter’s social media, he hopes to make his generation (and the next) of activists more diverse. Through his work as an intern at Audubon, he made sure to turn this passion into a viable career in the conservation field, particularly working in environmental education.
Bellamy’s work was part of Audubon’s partnership with the Walton Family Foundation to expand the ever-growing Audubon on Campus network and invest in the next generation of conservation leaders. To better understand Audubon’s education work, Bellamy’s internship focused on two areas: project management work with Audubon’s network team and educational programming with Audubon Southwest.
During Bellamy’s three-month tenure at Audubon, says Sally Maxwell, an education specialist at the Randall Davey Audubon Center, his work built a collaborative bridge between Audubon’s state and national education efforts. Bellamy created at-home lesson plans and supplemental videos targeted towards 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and (virtually) read books and guided kids through hands-on nature-based activities for ‘Curious Critter Story Time.’ Additionally his educator training and work with the Sante Fe Outdoor Education Collaborative helped inform his project management and development of Audubon Adventures, a series of educational booklets and materials produced by Audubon’s network team, and launch of the Spanish edition, Audubon Aventuras en Español.
“Education is one of our biggest tools for change. Having college students like Josh excited about introducing these ideas and lessons to kids is important for the survival of the planet,” says Maxwell. “In the course of 12 weeks, Josh grew from a curious and eager intern into a confident project team member who came to understand and embrace his role in a high-performing, high volume publishing team,” added Elaine O’Sullivan, director of network education and support and managing editor of Audubon Adventures.
In his own words, Bellamy says that during his time at Audubon, he went from “a fledgling to a fully-fledged educator and conservationist.”
But even fledglings come from somewhere. Bellamy’s love of animals, the outdoors, and working with students, blossomed in the ninth grade when he participated in the National Wildlife Federation’s Earth Tomorrow program. There he learned how to influence his community through outreach and education work and gained opportunities to develop his leadership skills and understanding of civic engagement. Though Bellamy credits his time as a camper to be the seedling to a life of environmental stewardship, he also attributes his conservation interests to his mentors in the program.
“The program was led by women of color. You rarely see people that look like me leading this type of work,” says Bellamy. “Understanding the gravity of this, everything clicked and came together for me. I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
What’s next for Bellamy? He is set to graduate this fall semester with a degree in psychology from Morehouse College. Ultimately, Bellamy plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental sciences or education. For now, though, he is trying to find more hands-on opportunities in these spaces and build his wildlife and birding persona.
“Wildlife has always been something I loved, but not something I always had access to,” says Bellamy. “I realize that I need to share this passion with others to open doors of discovery for kids that love animals and nature just as much as I do.”