Promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in wildlife conservation with Lauren Pharr

Lauren Pharr is an avian ecologist, science communicator, PhD candidate and passionate advocate for diversity, equality and inclusion in the wildlife conservation and research space.

In the world of conservation, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is crucial for fostering a more inclusive and representative field. Lauren, a passionate advocate for DEI, co-founded Field Inclusive, a nonprofit organization aimed at supporting marginalized individuals working in outdoor professions.

Here, Lauren shares her journey and insights into how we can create a more inclusive environment in the conservation sector.

If you’re looking to turn your passion for wildlife conservation into your profession, but keep getting stuck on discrimination or discouragement from those who try to talk you out of following your dream, this blog is for you!

Lauren is an approachable advocate for inclusion and equality in the world of conservation – and the resources created on Field Inclusive can help you navigate and overcome these hurdles.

Lauren’s journey in conservation

From a young age, Lauren felt deeply in love with animals and nature. However, her path to a career in wildlife biology and conservation was not straightforward.

Initially considering careers like becoming a veterinarian, Lauren started her undergraduate studies in biology and first encountered wildlife research. This was all the introduction she needed to what has become her passion and job!

Driven by her love for science and a desire to bridge the gap between academic research and public understanding, Lauren became heavily involved in science communication. Through various mediums like podcasts, radio, and science writing for prestigious publications like National Geographic and Wired Magazine, she translates complex scientific concepts into accessible language for diverse audiences. Check out a collection of Lauren’s science communication work.

Beyond her work in science communication, Lauren is a staunch advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in conservation. As a woman of colour working in the natural sciences, Lauren recognizes the lack of diversity in the field and actively works to address this issue.

With her friend and colleague, Murry Burgess, Lauren co-founded Field Inclusive, a nonprofit organization aimed at supporting marginalized individuals working in outdoor professions. Through Field Inclusive, Lauren and her colleagues provide resources, support, and opportunities for minorities in the STEM fields, amplifying their voices and advocating for greater representation. 

Credit: Nicole Bilodeau.

Advocating for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Conservation

Addressing Historical Inequities in Conservation

Lauren emphasizes the importance of understanding the historical inequities that have marginalized certain groups in conservation. From the exclusion of indigenous people from their lands to the racist beliefs of prominent figures in conservation history, there is a legacy of exclusion that still affects the field today.

She highlights the need for greater awareness and dialogue around these issues, stressing the importance of listening to the stories and experiences of marginalized communities. By acknowledging and addressing these historical injustices, the conservation community can work towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

Creating Supportive Spaces for Marginalized Individuals

One of the key initiatives of Field Inclusive is to create supportive spaces for marginalized individuals working in outdoor professions. Lauren and her team recognize the unique challenges faced by minority researchers and conservationists. To transform this field into a more inclusive and welcoming space, they offer resources and training focused on social field safety.

While traditional field safety training often focuses on physical hazards, Field Inclusive’s approach addresses the social dynamics and potential risks faced by minority researchers, such as hostile interactions with the public or landowners and how to help with preventing these certain occurrences. By providing tailored support and resources, Field Inclusive aims to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all conservation professionals.

Moving Towards a More Inclusive Future

Lauren’s passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion shines through in her work and advocacy efforts. By sharing her journey and insights, she inspires others to join the movement towards a more inclusive future for conservation.

Through initiatives like Field Inclusive and ongoing dialogue within the conservation community, Lauren hopes to create a more equitable and representative field where all individuals, regardless of background or identity, can thrive and contribute to the protection of our planet’s biodiversity.

Promoting diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) matters

Why diversity, equality and inclusion matter

Lauren emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about DEI issues in conservation. Field Inclusive conducts Field Inclusive Week annually, offering a crash course on the significance of DEI and practical strategies for creating more inclusive workplaces and research settings.

Moreover, financial support, including liveable wages and awards, is provided to address the underrepresentation and underpayment prevalent in the field. Field Inclusive offer scholarships and small awards to assist minority groups in accessing opportunities in this field.

Overcoming challenges in the field

The conversation delves into the challenges faced by minority individuals in conservation, such as racial profiling and safety concerns. Lauren shares personal experiences and highlights the importance of proactive measures, such as vetting field sites, wearing identifying gear, and seeking support from colleagues.

By addressing safety concerns and advocating for inclusivity, Field Inclusive aims to create safer and more welcoming environments for all conservation professionals.

Promoting Change at Every Level

Field Inclusive emphasizes the role of individuals, organizations, and institutions in promoting DEI. While systemic changes are necessary, individuals can initiate meaningful change by incorporating inclusive practices in their work and advocating for safety protocols.

Lauren stresses the importance of empathy, active listening, and using privilege to support marginalized voices. By fostering understanding and openness, everyone can contribute to a more inclusive conservation community.

Addressing Gatekeeping and Competitiveness

Gatekeeping (the intentional “blocking” of information or opportunities, often a result of competition and resource limitations) and competitiveness are prevalent issues in the conservation field that hinder diversity and collaboration.

Lauren acknowledges these challenges and encourages individuals to reflect on their privilege and biases. Through workshops and trainings, Field Inclusive provides opportunities for professionals to identify and address safety risks and promote a culture of inclusivity and collaboration.

Changing the story in conservation 

Understanding privilege as a tool for change

Lauren emphasized the importance of acknowledging and leveraging privilege as a catalyst for positive action. Rather than viewing privilege as a source of guilt or defensiveness, she encourages listeners to recognize it as a tool for making meaningful contributions to support marginalized communities.

Privilege, she noted, can be utilized to amplify voices, create opportunities, and advocate for inclusive practices within conservation spaces.

The Power of Listening and Being Receptive

At the heart of promoting diversity and inclusion lies the fundamental practice of listening. Lauren emphasizes the significance of actively listening to the experiences and perspectives of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

By being receptive to different narratives and understanding the unique challenges faced by marginalized groups, individuals can cultivate empathy and develop more inclusive approaches in their work and interactions.

Taking Action as Allies

Being an effective ally involves more than passive support; it requires tangible actions aimed at dismantling barriers and advocating for equity. Lauren highlights the importance of actively supporting marginalized communities by amplifying their voices, respecting their experiences, and advocating for inclusive policies and practices.

Whether it’s respecting pronouns, creating safe spaces, or advocating for representation, allies play a crucial role in driving positive change.

Utilizing Resources for Education and Support

Platforms like Field Inclusive provide a wealth of resources, including webinars, discussions, and educational materials, aimed at empowering individuals and organizations to foster more equitable environments. By utilizing these resources and sharing them within their networks, individuals can contribute to a broader culture of inclusivity in conservation and beyond.

Embracing diversity, equality, and inclusion is not just a moral imperative but a strategic necessity for conservation efforts. By leveraging privilege, listening actively, taking meaningful action as allies, and utilizing available resources, individuals and organizations can create a more equitable and inclusive environment in conservation and beyond.

Together, we can build a sustainable future that celebrates and uplifts all voices in the pursuit of environmental stewardship.

Keep in touch

Want to hear more from Lauren? You can listen to this conversation here or check her out on on Instagram @ldpharr or at her website (

You can also find out more about Field Inclusive at the website ( or on Instagram @fieldinclusive where they share valuable resources and updates on their initiatives.


Main image credit: Mike Fernandez/Audubon.


Author Profile | Susie Stockwell

Susie with a Purple-crowned Lorikeet, during work as a bird bander.

Susie Stockwell (she/her) is a field ecologist, science communicator and creator of the blog and podcast#itsawildlife, a platform to support people on their journey to work their dream job in wildlife science or conservation. Based on beautiful Menang country on the south coast of Western Australia, Susie is passionate about finding novel solutions for wildlife conservation and opening up the space to promote engagement and involvement for everyone interested in pursuing this career.


Interviews, Celebrating Diversity in Conservation