Want to With Work Wildlife?
Searching for lizards in the Prairies and travelling alongside a pod of Humpback Whales is just an average (yet amazing!) day for Jody North. The host of Hinterland Who’s Who has travelled all over Canada to see our country’s amazing wild species and shar
W: What does a wildlife educator do?
JN: Wildlife educators constantly learn up-to-date information about wildlife from scientists and research studies. Then we translate the scientific information into facts or stories that will be interesting or useful to other people. A wildlife educator is happy to teach anyone about wildlife, from toddlers to seniors. We can teach indoors or outdoors, using natural history items like antlers or nests, and when we’re very lucky, we get the help of live wild animal species.
W: What’s the best thing about being a wildlife educator? JN: The best part of being a wildlife educator is discovering new information that is exciting or surprising and then sharing that information with others so they are excited too! Sometimes the new information we share with someone will help them to solve a mystery about a wild creature in their life, like what creature is living under their porch. Other times we can help someone help wildlife, like encouraging a skunk to move out from under a porch peacefully. The more we all learn about wildlife, the better we become as neighbours to those wild creatures.
W: Did you always know you wanted to be a wildlife educator? What inspired you to take this career path?
JN: I think I was a wildlife educator before I even knew what that was! Right from the beginning of my life, I have always been most comfortable outdoors. And each time I discovered something new about wildlife or nature, I had to tell anyone who would listen. I was always on a quest to find snakes, frogs, insects, worms, empty nests, tracks, dens... and I also always had a lot of pets at home. I feel that humans are part of nature too, even though sometimes we live pretty far from it, and I think that the closer we all are to nature, the happier we will naturally be.
W: As the host of Hinterland Who’s Who, you’re a wild educator who is often on screen. Have you always been good with being on camera? Do you have any tips on how to be more comfortable on screen?
JN: I have always liked to talk to people, even very big groups! When I was in elementary school, I loved taking part in public speaking competitions. When I talk to the camera, I don’t think of it as talking to a lens or even notice the cameraperson holding it. I just think of the people listening and how I would talk to them if they were right there. I do get a bit uncomfortable with having TV makeup put on me before we film, though, because I am not used to wearing makeup.
W: What’s the craziest experience you’ve had on a Hinterland Who’s Who shoot?
JN: I have had so many amazing experiences since I started Hinterland Who’s Who that it would be hard to pick just one favourite! My top three experiences were:
1) Helping a team of scientists track tiny lizards in the Prairies using lizard-sniffing dogs
2) Travelling alongside a group of Humpback Whales while in a small zodiac boat on the way to an island covered in thousands of breeding Puffins
3) Tasting raw fish and Caribou, while learning from Inuit about life in the Arctic
W: Did you have any other jobs before you became the host for Hinterland Who’s Who? What was that like?
JN: Before and during the time I have been hosting Hinterland Who’s Who, I have had other jobs too. I was a zookeeper, a summer camp director and the creator of a wildlife education centre. My other favourite job was definitely running the wildlife centre because I got to work around over 70 rescued wild animals like Moose, eagles, Wolverines, Porcupines, beavers, opossums, wolves, owls, snakes and turtles every day! I also loved that over 40,000 people visited us every year, and they all came to learn more about wildlife!
W: If any of our WILD readers wanted to become wildlife educators, what should they study in school?
JN: If you want to be a wildlife educator, you could study science in school, but most importantly, you should spend lots of time outdoors in nature! I learned the most about wildlife while camping, hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing... and on bad-weather days, by watching nature documentaries or reading books.