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About Kara Lankford
Kara works as the Interim Director in Ocean Conservancy's Gulf Restoration Program. She grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and as a little girl the Gulf of Mexico was her playground, and that hasn't changed. Kara finds it a privilege to work everyday to restore, protect and preserve this beautiful ecosystem.
Author Kara Lankford and her mother Toni Lankford, one of the women who inspires her in her work. Courtesy Kara Lankford.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating stand out #WomeninConservtion all week long. Here, Kara Lankford, Interim Director of our Gulf Restoration Program reflects on conservation leaders in Alabama. This piece originally appeared on AL.com.
Check back every day for new blogs, and don’t forget to join our Twitter chat today, March 8th, at 1 pm EST!
I was put on the path to protect the incredible beauty and natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico by the most inspiring and influential woman in my life—my mother Toni Lankford.
On long, rambling walks in the woods, she would point out different plant species and trees and what liked to eat them. She taught me that everything plays a different role in nature and is absolutely necessary to the ecosystem, even venomous snakes!
Today the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council approved their updated comprehensive plan to restore the Gulf after the BP DeepwaterHorizon oil disaster. The updated plan includes small yet very important changes that echo the comments from tens of thousands of people like you from across the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll recall back in October we asked you to let the Council know that stronger language was needed within the comprehensive plan to ensure restoration is coordinated, comprehensive and based in science. Specifically, we want the Council to improve its project submission process and look for more ways to incorporate the best available science into their plan. These updates would ensure the best possible outcome for the $1.6 billion in fines available to the Council to restore the Gulf.
I wasn’t really awake until our all-terrain vehicle bumped its way to the beaches of the Alabama Gulf coast. I held on tight in the dark and wondered whether this adventure had been such a good idea after all.
Then a pop of orange and red burst across the Gulf of Mexico. All that had been asleep was now vivid and busy. Sea gulls and terns swooped above the waves scanning for breakfast. A pod of dolphins broke the surface offshore. Salty fishermen appeared as the mist lifted, persistent, patient. I remember being on the beach early each morning during the BP oil disaster. Even through all the chaos the mornings were always magical as the sun rose over the Gulf. Six years later it is reassuring to see so much is well, but we know that there is still work ahead to restore this environment to its natural state. As I took in all these sights, I reminded myself: I’m here to do a job.
We have accomplished so much as a team, and it is with a heavy heart that I announce Bethany’s departure as the director of our Gulf Restoration Program. Anyone who has spent five minutes with Bethany understands her love for the Gulf of Mexico and her passion for restoring it. This passion has led her to her new position as the Senior Project Manager, Gulf Coast for Volkert & Associates which she begins this week. In this role, she will be getting her feet muddy once again managing on-the-ground restoration projects across the Gulf region.
Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson knows what it’s like to be the only woman in the room. Here she is briefed on Deepwater Horizon response activities with President Obama and other response leaders. Credit: The White House
If you caught our tweet chat for International Women’s Day last month, I’m sure you noticed that there are some amazing women in conservation on the Gulf Coast. As we approach the 6-year memorial of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, I can’t help but think of the incredible women who led the Gulf region through that terrible tragedy with grace and confidence. As a woman in the conservation field, I am always inspired by those who go before me and pave a clearer path for women in science and leadership. The battles they overcome are experiences we can learn from and hopefully not have to revisit. Let’s take a moment to highlight a few notable women who led the charge in the beginning of the BP oil disaster.
To commemorate five years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began, Ocean Conservancy interviewed residents about the disaster, its impacts and what the Gulf means to them. Over the next 87 days—the length of the disaster itself—we will be releasing “postcards from the Gulf” to share their stories. This blog is the first in a series of full-length interviews from our postcards. Be sure to follow Ocean Conservancy on Facebook and Twitter over the next couple of months to see all of the postcards.
Alabama is a special place, not only because of its unique landscape and abundant wildlife but also because of its people. Those of us who grew up in coastal Alabama did so with fishing pole in hand and feet in the water. It’s a privilege to work each day to preserve and protect this beautiful place alongside incredible people like Tammy and Matt. Here are their postcards.
As detailed in Ocean Conservancy’s booklet Restoring the Gulf Beyond the Shore, we are a major champion for projects that restore the offshore species in the Gulf, as well as the underwater habitats that they call home.