Where Are They Now? Natalie Vaughan

Photo courtesy of Natalie Vaughan.
Photo courtesy of Natalie Vaughan.

I was an intern at the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) during the 2013-2014 school year while attending Humboldt State, where I received my degree in Environmental Management and Protection with an emphasis in Planning. My internship duties included writing articles and photographing wilderness areas in the North Coast region for publication in EcoNews, which encouraged individuals to experience wilderness in a variety of ways. I researched and planned three overnight wilderness backpack trips and two day-trips, including to the Trinity Alps and Sinkyone wilderness. I was subsequently invited to display my photographs in the Wilderness and Her Rivers gallery event in Arcata.

My conservation career began when I was selected from a nationwide search of students to participate in the Second Biennial Youth and Public Lands Congress in Phoenix, Arizona, which was sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Public Lands Foundation (PLF), and the Arizona Wilderness Coalition (AWC). I collaborated with peers to make recommendations regarding the future management of public lands and how to establish a national land ethic. We presented to the BLM State Director, BLM Director, U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester, AWC Executive Director, and PLF Vice President for Operations. Afterwards I was selected from the Congress to attend the 50th Anniversary Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2014. The conference was one of the most treasured and impactful experiences I’ve had in my life.

After graduating I moved back to the Bay Area where I worked as a Project Manager for a private environmental consulting firm. I wrote Phase I Environmental Site Assessments for commercial real estate properties. Unfulfilled with this work, I quit my job to pursue my photography businesses full-time. My first business, NatVon Photography (www.natvonphoto.com) is for fashion, branding, and lifestyle photography. My mission is to empower brands and women entrepreneurs to establish credibility, attract clients, and maximize revenue. I also recently launched another photography business called Headshots by Nat (www.headshotsbynat.com), where I specialize in corporate and professional headshots. Quality photography and headshots are an empowering tool and I aim to photograph and promote sustainable brands and environmental professionals who are making a positive impact on the world. I am excited to be self-employed and living the career of my dreams, all while I am pregnant with a baby boy.

I am not sure when or how I will continue with an environmental career path, however I cannot ignore my passion to preserve and fight for wilderness and our Earth. I am devastated by some of the ways humans are treating the Earth all around the world. Elephants and rhinos are being poached nearly to extinction, deforestation is accelerating climate change, oceans are being trashed, and the list goes on. I am heartbroken and unsure of what exactly needs to be done but I need to do something. In my lifetime I will fight and do whatever it takes to conserve the Earth for my baby and future generations. Most of our daily lives are so disconnected from nature that it’s easy to forget these problems exist. But they are very real and need to be dealt with. We ALL need to take responsibility to care for and
protect our Earth.

Overall, I am grateful for my opportunity with the NEC, which allowed me to blend my two passions together, and for Dan Sealy’s encouragement that my photography really does make a difference.