Meet our Volunteers: Jodie Smith

DMAD Marine Mammal Association has been a blessing to me. After deciding to take a year out from University, I am grateful that I was able to pursue this opportunity as it has given me an abundance of knowledge, skills and wonderful memories. Here I can contribute to the conservation of marine mammals in remarkably picturesque setting on the Adriatic coast, immersed by the mountains, nature and old historic towns.
I admire that this organisation distributes its time to research, data collection, community outreach and educating the next generation- which are all crucially important for successful conservation. As my first real experience working with an NGO, I now have an insight to each of these sectors, which also creates a diverse work pattern that is always exciting. It is great to spend some days in the office learning about bottlenose dolphins, their behaviours and threats, contributing to research and being taught valuable skills such as how to use GIS software. Then soon after getting to go on road trips along the Montenegrin coast to collect sighting data on dolphins and marine traffic. The surveys require patience, which is always worth it when you are rewarded with a sighting that creates a type of energy within a group of like-minded individuals that you are all able to enjoy and take pride in together.
Conservation can sometimes be a bleak issue, however working in the field has energised me with motivation and optimism. I have realised that when you can appreciate your surroundings like the nature of Montenegro, plus being stimulated by other people who inspire you, it gives you more purpose and passion to continue to protect the environment through your hard work.
Every intern here is slowly but surely adding their unique ideas and contributing together to improve conservation locally here for the dolphins. It is amazing to be a small part of that influential process and to watch it evolve over time. I now have a better understanding that there is unfortunately no quick fix in conservation, and instead of being disheartened by this we should be persistent as every action we take is raising awareness, helping to create a new culture of people who realise the significance of protecting the natural world. In order to do this, the science needs to be accessible for everyone, and I praise this organisation for teaching in ways that are permitting for all people and accepting people from a range of backgrounds as everyone has an impact.