Monica Betts | WWF South Africa

Monica Betts

Posted on 01 January 2015
Monica Betts is a Masters intern at WWF South Africa.
At 25, Monica Betts is fearless. Never one to shy from a challenge, she’s grown in leaps and bounds during her time as an intern at WWF-SA in the Marine Programme.

We asked her to share her experiences:

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in the sector?
I held a strong desire to make a difference in the world and conserving it. I realised many years ago that we needed to start doing something soon if future generations will have a planet worth living in.

2. What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on during your internship?
There have been so many but I think I think the SASSI assessment work has been a highlight. I never realised how much work went into determining which fish made it onto the iconic red, orange and green list that we see in shops and online. Through the assessments I have gained a valuable overview of the commercial fishing sector as whole. The assessment process not only looks at a specific species but also the fishing method and management of the species. Coming into the internship with no real fisheries experience, I truly feel at this stage that I have a solid understanding of the South African fisheries, main fish species, conservation concerns surrounding each fishery and projects underway to address these concerns.

3. In what ways have you grown during this internship?
I have learnt so many new skills that I feel are vital to future opportunities. I learnt to not be afraid to ask questions and give my opinion. People are open to ideas and suggestions if they are presented with confidence. I have also learnt how to deal with scientists and laymen alike, discovering how to effectively communicate complex issues simply.

4. What value has this experience brought to you?
It has taught me the impact that people can have when they unite behind an idea and concept. I have seen the whole SASSI programme work from assessment to implementation and it has been an exciting journey. I feel very hopeful for the future that if we continue to develop innovations such as this one that give the ordinary person the power to make a difference.

5. What is the strangest thing that’s happened to you during the internship?
I suppose the strangest thing that has happened to me would be when people ask me who I work for…. when I tell them WWF many think of WWE the wrestling federation instead and I have many entertaining moments explaining that I actually work for the World Wide Fund for Nature.

6. What is the most challenging thing that’s happened in the field?
There have been some incredibly challenging moments – specifically tight deadlines and learning vital skills around effective time management. For example, finishing the SASSI assessments in time for the review in November and the final release of the results.

7. What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give to a young person planning to enter the sector?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. That’s how I learnt about opportunities like the WWF Graduate Development Programme. Also don’t be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone a little and take risks. I broadened my comfort zone a little and it’s the best thing I could’ve done to reveal new and exciting opportunities.

8. What do you think makes our environmental future so bright?
I believe that there is an increasing awareness among the planet’s citizens of how they can make a difference to the environment. I truly believe that if science and the ordinary person continue working together it will ultimately make a huge impact.
Monica Betts is a Masters intern at WWF South Africa.
© WWF-SA Enlarge