From Crees Volunteer to Senior Field Staff – a journey working in Conservation with Crees

What is it like to be part of the Crees field staff team?

Brandon Burgess one of our latest Multimedia Interns asks the questions and finds out!

Luke Stahl is a hands-on field staff who is not afraid to get close to venomous snakes, biting caymans, and stinging wasps.

He is currently a conservation staff member for Crees. Located in the Peruvian Amazon on the borders of the Manu National Park. Crees’ it is an organization focused on education, research, and sustainability.

Luke is originally from Mornington, Victoria, Australia, where he grew up on a farm and developed a passion and interest in animals. He feels like it shaped the way he looked at wildlife conservation at a young age.

When he was 12 years old he caught his first venomous snake, a red belly black snake which is the 9th most venomous snake in the world. Already having developed a love for snakes well before this, he was very aware of the species and the danger but was confident he could read their behaviour accurately and safely for both himself and the snake.

As he grew older his interests in conservation and study of herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) grew.

“The only good snake is a dead snake” is a saying that Luke heard from his childhood that greatly influenced the way he feels about conservation. He wants to reverse that mindset and protect snakes through educating people about their importance and behaviour.

Luke came to the Manu Learning Centre as a volunteer when he was only 18 years old. When he returned home he attended Deakin University where he accomplished a Bachelor Degree in Zoology and Animal Science. During that time he tailored everything to work in conservation within the Neotropic areas.

At the age of 21, he returned to the MLC as a staff member with hopes to accomplish more and create a larger impact. Through 9 months of hard work, he was then promoted to senior field staff. Now Luke has more freedom to accomplish his goals and more influence to help them get hands-on with wildlife and the natural environment.

Luke believes that the best way to get someone to care about the environment is to get them to see it close up. “If you give someone an experience they will never forget they are more enabled and inclined to protect it,” says, Luke.

When he returns home to Australia he plans to continue on a similar path that he’s already on by constantly expanding his knowledge and understanding of the environment and conservation. His short-term career path is to move towards marine sciences and learn about the world below us.

When I asked Luke about his suggestions for people wanting a career he mentioned three distinct points.

First, education. Choosing and directing your educational course towards an end goal (biological science, medication, conservation, etc). It has to be a topic that you’re passionate about. If you don’t have an exact goal or direction, choose a broad conservation goal and get involved.”The more education that you have will influence others where everyone can work together as a population to create positive change in conservation issues”.

Dwarf Caiman at the MLC having it’s statistics recorded.

The second point was the experience; building up field and skill-based knowledge through volunteering, internships, and courses, such as those you can take with Crees (e.x-venomous snake handling, animal capture & release, or jungle medication).

Thirdly, try and develop a wide skill set that can be transferable and used in the future to reach your  conservation goals and finally, go for it!

Once you have all this together don’t be afraid to give it a crack. Regardless of whether you are not knowledgeable, skilled, enough, you can always continue to learn. Don’t be afraid to create a difficult goal and consistently work towards it.

Thank you Brandon for sharing your assignment work with us and Luke for your thoughts on life and a future working in conservation.

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