Eddie Love, a 2015 wildlife ecology and management graduate, is a program manager of the Fiscal Sponsorship Program and chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice, or DEIJ, Initiative of The Ocean Foundation. Love is an alumnus of several fellowships- Roger Arliner Young Diversity Fellowship (working for Ocean Conservancy and Rare), Environmental Leadership Program Fellowship and the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders Fellowship- where he gained the experience to proactively address DEIJ and conservation-focused issues. His love for wildlife motivates him to protect the environment and raise awareness of the variety of issues species face today.
Outside of conservation, Love finds joy in the simple things in life such as playing tennis, visiting family in Alabama and creating new experiences with friends.
Why did you choose to attend Auburn?
“Auburn is an exceptional academic institution, and I knew they had a respected veterinarian program because that was my planned career path. Having been raised in Opelika, attending college while staying home was the most economical choice for me.”
What led you to choose your major?
“While I intended on becoming a veterinarian, I experienced difficulty passing classes like organic chemistry and frankly I had to choose a different route. So, I followed my heart, which led me to the Wildlife Ecology and Management degree. My passion and concern for animals helped me understand that I would be happy with life as long as I worked with them. I am grateful for the educational challenges as they led me down my current career path. I love using my voice and talents to address conservation issues.”
How did SFWS prepare you for your career?
“SFWS taught me that field experience was crucial to understanding the plights faced by many species. I also learned it is essential to be patient as change doesn’t happen overnight, but to remain vigilant in our pursuit to drive change at all levels. We can do this through encouraging our peers to be adaptable, applying pressure to policymakers and leaders, and by collaborating.”
What is your current role at The Ocean Foundation?
“I am a program manager and I oversee our Fiscal Sponsorship Program and chair the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice, or DEIJ, Initiative with a mission to build the capacity of environmental programs and amplify marginalized voices. Our Fiscal Sponsorship program houses over forty-five projects that represent multiple international disciplines of coastal and ocean issues. I get the unique opportunity to assist each project with programmatic development and non-profit management. Additionally, as the DEIJ committee chair, I lead our efforts to instill these values at every level of our organization. It’s a challenging role, but there’s so much room for me to grow within it.”
Why is staying involved and in touch with SFWS valuable to you?
“I intentionally remain involved so that others who look like me know that they are not alone. As the sole black male in many classes, I at times felt isolated. There is a misconception that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, or BIPOC, have no interest in the environment. This is untrue because we all have a stake in our oceans and planet, and marginalized groups are disproportionately affected by conservation issues. My goal is to continue to use my voice and influence to drive SFWS to truly represent the many communities we protect due to the nature (no pun intended) of our careers. However, leadership must be open to embracing change and accepting all feedback from students and alumni, especially involving DEI challenges.”
What is your favorite memory from your time at SFWS; was there a professor or faculty member that had a great influence/impact on you during your time in the school?
“I loved being a member of the Auburn University MANRRS chapter, or Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, and attending its annual organization-wide conference. This organization made me feel at home and equipped me with the professional development I needed to succeed. I learned various skills from business management to programmatic development. MANRRS taught me to remain unapologetic in my pursuit to address the challenges facing the entire conservation community and made me the leader I am today. Dr. Brenda Allen, Michelle Cole, and Dr. Graeme Lockaby were all tremendous influences for me during my time at Auburn. They exuded an extreme commitment to supporting my growth, but particularly Dr. Allen and Michelle Cole as they were the advisors for the Auburn University MANRRS chapter.”
What is your favorite thing about being an SFWS alum?
“It is always inspiring to see how the next generation of students plans to impact the conservation community. I love to learn from the youth as they often see and highlight things that generations before them may have missed. I am a firm believer that we can all learn something from each other, but that is only possible if we remain active in the SFWS community.”
Do you have any advice for students entering the workforce right now?
“As you enter the workforce, trust yourself and the knowledge you have gained, Auburn has prepared you for this moment. I also encourage students to explore different career paths across the sector, and to find their role in this space. Following your heart will lead you down the right path.”