Chelsea Carson is a conservation biologist with a specialty in herpetology and community service outreach. She completed a Fulbright grant researching the effects of land uses on Ecuador’s amphibian populations and has led SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru. Chelsea was also a member of the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition. Chelsea has significant amounts of environmental education experience, including organizing a Save The Frogs Day event at Colorado State University in 2013 and leading youth groups into the outdoors in Wyoming.
SAVE THE FROGS! Journalist Romina Vosoughi recently interviewed Chelsea Carson about her amphibian conservation experiences, so pull up a chair and read the interview below!
How do you inspire young people to get involved in SAVE THE FROGS! amphibian conservation?
I like to inspire young people to get involved in amphibian conservation by making it fun and educational. I love getting groups of kids out in the field or in a classroom and bringing amphibians to life through photos, stories, live examples, and engaging activities. There are so many misconceptions about amphibians and reptiles it is important to teach young people about the science behind who these creatures are, how we live amongst them, their conservation threats/status/and efforts to preserve them, and what we face to lose if we don’t reverse the current extinction rates. Most importantly, I enjoy showing young people the beauty and uniqueness of amphibians, and this inherently inspires them to want to protect them.
What is the most significant accomplishment you have seen volunteers/staff under the age of 25 make in the field of amphibian conservation?
We have so many young people involved in amphibian conservation and volunteering with SAVE THE FROGS! it is hard to choose one. I have seen young kids petition their local government to recognize Save The Frogs Day and run events that spread amphibian education and conservation awareness. I have seen school children build wetlands to regenerate amphibian habitat and support their local species. I have seen students work to study and protect threatened and endangered species through their research and conservation projects. All of these are significant accomplishments and so important for the future of amphibians.
What is your most memorable experience in the field of amphibian conservation?
I have so many memorable experiences! My favorite thing is going for nighttime frogging hikes looking for any and all amphibians. One example of an extra special night was during my work as an amphibian biologist in Ecuador, while I was leading a conservation project looking at how different land uses (organic agriculture compared to monoculture) affected amphibian diversity and abundance. We went out for a night of data collection and it started pouring rain (as it usually did) but with spirits high we ended up sprinting through the trails and slipping in our rubber boots through the mud, with huge grins on our faces. When we got down to the stream we were sampling, the rain lightened a little and we heard the calls of glass frogs; with a little exploring along the stream, drenched with rain and happiness, we found the Chiriqui Glass Frog (Teratohyla pulverata).
Which ecotours do you recommend most to young people/beginners and why?
I recommend young people try out any and all of our ecotours! Each one is designed to be educational, experiential, exciting, and full of incredible landscapes and biodiversity. We travel to the froggiest regions of Central and South America in search of amphibians, learning from experts along the way, and gaining hands-on experiences in the field of herpetology. For any young person interested in amphibians, either just as a personal passion or considering going into the field of amphibian biology, I cannot recommend our ecotours enough.
What amphibian related policy, regulation, or law do you think should be enacted?
I would like to see stricter policy on pesticide use, as we know that most chemicals used in agriculture are detrimental to our aquatic ecosystems and severely impact amphibian populations and health. I would also like to see tougher crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade (of which amphibians and reptiles are in high demand)!