Nature is full of stories, and often the people working closely with nature are best suited to tell them. That was the premise of a two-day storytelling workshop recently held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for a group of conservationists in the first class of Mekong Conservation Heroes. The workshop was part of the Wonders of the Mekong project funded by USAID. The Heroes program seeks to highlight the inspiring work of individuals working in Cambodia to conserve or raise awareness about the Mekong River’s ecological and cultural importance. This includes creating a video and online profile of each hero, as well as providing training in how to share their own stories with a broad audience.
The consulting company FISHBIO partnered with the group Development Innovations to give the workshop attendees hands-on practice in storytelling through writing, speaking, photos, and video. The workshop covered the elements of a story, photo and video framing and composition, and how to conduct an interview on camera. The workshop also discussed conservation messaging, such as informing an audience about a conservation problem, why they should care, and how they can be part of the solution. Each hero was also given a camera as part of the program, which they took into the field for a hands-on practice session. FISHBIO then spent the following week filming video interviews with each hero that will be used to create online profiles about their work.
The six heroes include both conservation veterans and those just starting their careers, and their specialties range from birds, turtles, and fishes, to wetlands, community engagement, and environmental outreach. The storytelling workshop also included some additional participants from the Young Eco Ambassadors program. The participants said they learned many new techniques during the workshop, such as how a series of photos can tell a story, about the importance of shooting B-roll, or supporting footage, for videos, and how to think about effective messages to reach their audiences. They were excited to put their skills to use whether through writing blog stories, posting on Instagram, or teaching others about what they had learned. We are happy to be working with these inspiring conservationists, and look forward to introducing their stories in the future!