I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Keating, who is currently an Honorary Conservation Advisor with the Calgary Zoo, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Calgary, Owner of goingwild.org, and Creator of www.greatbignature.com. Be sure to follow Brian on Facebook and Twitter!
I am a nature enthusiast who travels around the world, capturing unique wildlife moments and then sharing them broadly.
Currently, I am creating a series of short films on nature appreciation called “Great Big Nature”. These will be broadcasted on different networks, and hopefully will build people’s enthusiasm for nature.
I worry that we’re not talking about wildlife enough. The world is still a green and beautiful place, but we need to work hard to keep it this way. We need to get nature enthusiasm into the bloodstream.
Our partner is Ducks Unlimited. It started off in Canada, but is going worldwide.
What other hats do you wear?
I’ve lead trips through Civilized Adventures and Classic Canadian Tours guiding people on their holidays into remote, natural landscapes. I’m on the road, a hundred-and-fifty days a year, to different parts of the world.
I also do public speaking, around thirty to forty presentations a year in different parts of North America. This allows me to tell the stories that develop on my worldwide nature trips.
How did you get into this field?
I was never much for sitting in school and studying. I’d daydream in class about what I wanted to do after school: exploring or hiking. At age twelve I started to love watching birds, a hobby I developed over time. Unfortunately, I was nicknamed Birdman in high school, making school even more difficult, but I persevered.
I had to buckle down in university, but I knew my direction by then.
I chose to study nature. I believe that nature is good for you – it makes you feel good, and pulls you away from the complexity of our everyday world. People are not spending enough time in nature, and it gets us back to our original roots.
One of my favourite books is called “Last Child in the Woods”, written by Richard Louv; an amazing piece, written a decade ago. It illustrates scientific studies done that prove time and time again the value of being outside. Research is proving that “nature makes you smarter”.
What are you most proud of in your career?
The access that I’ve had to people’s minds to illustrate the purpose and importance of nature. I cannot imagine my life without spending time in nature. I’m proud that I can illustrate the importance of nature to large numbers of people through presentations and the media.
I’m very proud of the fact that last year, the Calgary Zoo renamed the original Conservation Fund that I started so many years ago, to ‘The Brian Keating Conservation Endowment Fund’. Utilizing the original one million dollars that I had raised when I worked at the zoo, the fund recently tripled in size!
What career advice would you have for someone starting out?
I had tremendous insecurities when I was young. I wasn’t sure I was going in the right direction.
My first job after university was as a Naturalist, and put a hundred percent into it. I was working way too much in the office, then I realized that I had to put as much energy into my play as into my work. Every second weekend, my wife and I would go into the mountains; we called it “weekend warrior”. We love kayaking and canoeing too.
My advice is to follow your heart, and take risks!
Interview by Dr. Laura Hambley Ph.D., R. Psych
Founder Calgary Career Counselling