Our grants program is on of our most popular and impactful initiatives; to date we have awarded nearly $50,000 to wildlife conservation projects around the world. We pick important projects that are unlikely to be prioritized by other funding institutions, focusing on those that generate natural history information, build partnerships between scientists and artists, or that support efforts to understand and enact measures to reduce human/wildlife conflict.
In this issue’s grant-winner spotlight, we hear from Sebastian Harris, who received funding from us to study the relationships between Pennsylvania ants and the other species that use their mounds.
Why did you become interested in this research topic?
For whatever reason, positive relationships between taxonomically disparate organisms is super interesting to me, more so than other subjects in ecology. At the time I conducted the study, I was studying under Dr. Amy Savage, a Myrmecologist from Rutgers University. In searching for a research subject, I came across some old natural history notes highlighting the use of abandoned ant mounds as refuge for hibernating snakes. Ants are her specialty, snakes are mine, so it was sort of a no brainer!
Why did you look to The Alongside Wildlife Foundation to support this project?
Finding funding for natural history research can be difficult, with the influx of so many scientists studying much “bigger” topics. Having seen some of the projects funded before me in the year prior, I felt like my research would fit the foundation’s mission well.
You are an artist in addition to a scientist and have supported the foundation in multiple ways (by becoming a recurring donor and by donating a portion of the proceeds from your sales of stickers). Why do you feel it’s important to do so?
I think the destruction and degradation of nature is moving at such a pace that supporting organizations who are attempting to combat it has become increasingly important with each passing day. Ultimately, I believe in the mission and potential of The Alongside Wildlife Foundation. There’s a need to address research questions that are often overlooked, and now that the foundation has begun protecting land, I’m even more excited to support.
What are you passionate about now and why? What’s next for you and how can we follow your work?
Finding a way to merge creativity and conservation is what I’m most passionate about. My plan is to build projects that connect people with the conservation of nature, especially those who might not have direct access to it. I will continue to release art campaigns to support various efforts and will be producing more informative content via social media. You can follow me on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter or check out my personal website.