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Bonnie ‘Bee’ Ray

Hello there! I’m Bonnie Ray-Smallcalder but as that’s a bit of a mouthful I usually go by Bee. I’m a student studying Ecology & Environmental Science. Outside of university, I enjoy reading novels, wobbling on roller-skates and skateboards, making art, Tarot, history documentaries, learning about folklore, and tasting as many teas as I can. At least a quarter of my time is spent picking up insects and stopping to gaze at wildflowers. I should think you’d recognise me if we met now!

Hi! Tell us a bit about your backstory

At various times in my childhood, I’ve wanted to be a farmer, an actor, Swedish, and a playwright – so far, this environmental pursuit has lasted the longest. My proudest moment occurred when an article about my Geography A-Level coursework (researching the management of a local calcareous grassland) was published in the Geographical. Occasionally, I worry I’ve peaked too soon.

So why are you passionate about this aspect of sustainability?

Name something I should care more about than keeping this planet habitable. Creating a sustainable future is imperative and – as passionate as I am about fantasy books and Lucy Worsley programmes – I cannot see anything I should be more engaged with. Exerting my energy, alongside the myriad of hardworking and inspiring environmental professionals, towards Earth-saving seems to be the best use of my time.

What’s next for you?

I’d be a Renaissance man if I could – the astronomer-occultist-naturalist-politician-writer-theologian type. Failing this, bugs and botany are high up there for me, as is the intersect between natural and heritage conservation. Ultimately, I would love to be involved with science communication. Often it seems like the knowledge is there, tossed around between professors, but never extends to us laypeople or even those pulling the strings. I hugely admire figures such as Lab Girl author, Hope Jahren, and TV presenter, Liz Bonnin, who so effectively make science accessible. For now though, I’ll focus on my university assessment deadlines.

One piece of advice for a sustainable future

Inertia will end us.

What would you recommend from RYVIAS for our audience?

We don’t just need scientists. To truly reach an ecologically harmonious future, humanity needs sustainability injected into everything. Pursuing your passion and being an environmental champion doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive, just because you don’t hold a PhD in climate science. We need businesspeople pressuring their companies to reduce emissions, schoolteachers inspiring generations of tree-huggers, chefs brainstorming the sustainable diet (and letting me taste-test), product designers reworking packaging, firefighters who spend their weekends litter picking, engineers creating world-saving solutions, lawyers fighting for nature’s rights and infinitely more. Whatever you’re working as now or studying to become, you can always add sustainability to your role (you can trust me on this, I’m an unemployed teenager.) Central to this is interdisciplinary communication and cooperation. As environmental issues are typically incredibly complex, finding solutions demands a huge variety of skills which can only be provided when multiple minds of different academic and experiential background work together. Essentially, you will always have a skill we need to build a green future, it’s just about finding the right people and the right application for it.

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