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A Letter to Our Team

Hi Everyone,

Jim Guenter, CEO, Species360

In the midst of historic challenges impacting not only our entire team but our member community worldwide, I want to take this opportunity to share insight to the values of our organization. These values reflect recent and long-standing discussions among our team, members, and with partners and associates and are worth revisiting. As a global non-profit focused on education and conservation, we believe that taking a stance is necessary. By speaking out about events, we make an impact for our team, our members, and our communities.

We are in the middle of several historic challenges impacting pretty much everyone, everywhere. We are in the middle of global social justice action. We are in the middle of a climate crisis with daily news of new and devastating wildfires and hurricanes. And we are in the middle of a pandemic. 

Now, we are about to enter what most expect to be an extremely divisive election cycle in the U.S. With huge implications in the races for President, Senate, and the House of Representatives plus so many more local elections, we are already being inundated by political messaging. We will see an endless stream of imperfect poll results. We will see continued and increasingly negative messages. We will see politicians stretch and then break the truth.  In good times this can be troubling. In tough times it can be overwhelming, highly stressful, and dangerous.  

Over the next few months we must be especially careful in how we communicate.  We need to be respectful in our communications. We need to do our best to share the truth, fact check to the best of our ability, and check in on our intentions. Take the high road, at all times. Going one step further, we expect the high road of our team for all of our internal communications and certainly for our official communications representing Species360. I highly encourage you to take the high road in your personal lives as well – especially as modern communications and social media can blur the lines between personal and business.

Our mission is to improve animal care and inform species conservation. Science and research are critical to the success of our members and their missions. Our broader community is focused on saving biodiversity, protecting the environment, and creating/sustaining a healthy and livable planet for future generations. Our community uses fact-based science, is focused on remediating climate change, preventing habitat loss, and protecting critical biodiversity areas. The community engages with indigenous and other local communities on partnerships to protect species and habitats. They greatly value and support global collaboration and partnerships.  

Our values as an organization are identifiable in all that we do. Number one, we value each other. We value and promote diversity, equality, and inclusion. Social justice is a focus for many on our team and this passion was recently renewed during the recent and ongoing protests against the police killing of George Floyd and so many others. We care about equality based on race, gender, age and so many other dimensions of life. We know that Black Lives Matter, not instead of others, but that our Black and Brown communities especially need our help and support.

Protecting our environment and the biodiversity that brings it life, is at the forefront of all we do. We value science, scientific discovery, and the protection of natural habitats. We strive to:

  • Promote the science of climate change. The UN Paris Climate Agreement was ratified by 193 countries and the world needs the USA to not only participate but to provide strong leadership by example. I encourage you to reach out to leaders in your areas and urge them to support climate related policy and action. 
  • Support clean energy and ending the use of fossil fuels, especially coal and natural gas. Beyond the massive destructive impacts of climate change, statistics show that pollution generating power plants are more often situated closer to homes of people of color, negatively impacting their health more than white communities. And clean energy is rapidly becoming (in many cases already is) the cheaper option.  
  • Support environmental protections and proactive enforcement provided by the, Clean WaterClean AirMigratory Bird Protections, and the Endangered Species Acts that have been so critical to supporting our members’ initiatives to recover species. Time and again it has been proven that the long-term impact of; the destruction of the land and the water, the health impacts, and biodiversity loss far outweighs any short-term economic impact.  
  • Oppose drilling in Artic waters, so critical to biodiversity and where it would be virtually impossible to clean after the inevitable spill(s). The most recent oil spill damage destroying the critical biodiversity off of Mauritius is just one more terrifying example of the damage of oil spills. 
  • Oppose the use of protected national sites, especially the sites of historical value to indigenous populations for leasing to fossil fuel or other commercial interests. It is not their land to give away.  

Here are some specific areas where we can help with other topics very relevant to our values:

  • Proactively support social justice movements and peaceful protest.  Seek to understand why athletes take a knee during the national anthem, why player boycotts are ongoing, why the removal of monuments celebrating oppression is important, and why so many people are fighting for social justice. While current events are heavily focused on racial inequity and injustice, it is critical to also understand and support the long-term ongoing fight by the LGBTQA community.  
  • Support voting rights. Fundamental to any democracy is the right to vote. Gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, and willfully diminishing vote-by-mail options are not democratic policies. These actions unfairly impact lower income communities, especially Black, Hispanic, and other populations of color. During a pandemic it also increases risks and challenges for older voters and those that have a more difficult time accessing or using transportation.  

Supporting these issues may seem obvious, yet our society as a whole does not yet agree they are important or should override short-term economic growth. I am certainly leaving out other incredibly important issues, and for that I apologize. This was written very much focused on issues that are critical in the USA. For those of you in other corners of the globe I am confident you can translate these points to your own location and the relevant topics on your area, region, country, etc. I would love to hear from any and all of you on these topics.  

As we move forward, as individuals and as an organization, we are working to have a positive impact on the challenges facing our global community. We thank you for being part of positive change.

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