Meet the WDATAG? Team
JANE LEE MCCRACKEN
Artist and Where Did All the Animals Go? Project Founder
Born in Edinburgh, Artist Jane Lee McCracken constructs intricate multi-layered Biro drawings, sculptures, installations and designs products. Her work explores loss generated by human destruction and is representational of both life's beauty and brutal reality.
From the artwork she produces, the workshops she delivers to the products she designs, Jane's art practice provokes consideration of the impact of 'loss'. She creates memorials of lives lived, both human and animal and ways of life and environments lost through war or environmental destruction, communicating individual loss beyond statistics.
Jane has exhibited across the UK and internationally both in solo and group exhibitions and has been a Wolf & Badger UK designer since 2016. In 2014 as part of her art practice, she founded Drawing for Endangered Species Workshops (DFES), in partnership with Born Free, raising funds through her workshops. The workshops share Jane's passions for drawing and wildlife and give both adults and children the opportunity to learn about and draw vulnerable species.
In 2019 Jane founded Where Did All the Animals Go? (WDATAG?) art and environmental education project also in partnership with Born Free. By bringing art and environmental education to schools and the community, this project not only gives the gift of wildlife and drawing to children and adults but also provides the opportunity for participants to become environmental brokers and cultural ambassadors. Jane has delivered her workshops to thousands of people across the North East, nationally and internationally.
Her art practice and artwork has raised funds for Born Free, Wolf Conservation Center NY, Save Wild Tigers, WCS Malaysia, Wolves for Humans, Butterfly Conservation, Chengeta Wildlife, Coyote Watch Canada, Orphan Bear Rescue Center Russia, Newcastle United Foundation and Foundation of Light
Jane's practice incorporates her philosophy of giving back to wildlife and human lives she highlights, without whom she couldn’t make her work. janeleemccracken.co.uk/
LAURA GOSSET BSc (Hons) MSc
Head of Education Born Free, Project Co-Partner
With a Master’s Degree in Environmental Conservation Management Laura joined the Born Free team in 2012 working in various roles within the Campaigns Team before taking on the role as Head of Education in 2017. Within this role Laura is responsible for the strategic development, planning and delivery of Born Free’s global education programme across Born Free’s country offices (in Kenya, Ethiopia, UK and South Africa) as well as through partner organisations. This programme aims to deliver both direct conservation and animal welfare education as well as holistic community projects aimed at addressing some of the most significant environmental challenges facing both people and wildlife.
Education Officer Born Free, Project Co-Partner
Charlie has always loved wildlife and joined the Born Free Education Team in 2020. Prior to this she worked in as a primary school teacher with Qualified Teacher Status for over four years, before moving into the charity sector in 2018, focussing on animal welfare. Alongside Born Free’s Head of Education, Charlie works to deliver and develop the UK Education Programme. The programme aims to encourage children and young people to consider their global impact, take action to conserve vital species and habitats and to instil a love of wildlife.
EDUCATION PARTNERS UK
Artist Teacher Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, Project Instigator and Co-Partner
Christine Egan-Fowler is an artist and teacher with a history of innovative collaborations that encourage participation, across subjects and with galleries. Christine has over 25 years of teaching experience in various schools across the region; Kenton School, Newcastle upon Tyne and St Mary’s School, Longbenton, and is currently teaching Art at The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne. She is committed to her job, her own creative development and to enhancing the learning of others.
In 2013 Christine graduated with Distinction from the MA Fine Art and Education, delivered by Northumbria University in partnership with BALTIC. Christine was awarded the BALTIC Artist Teacher Award 2012/13, selected by Director, Godfrey Worsdale.
Christine’s work is about memory. She creates and renews connections with forgotten aspects of her past; painting using materials which have a particular significance for her, such as washing powder, bleach and beeswax mixed with pigment. The materials she uses often have a resonant smell that helps instant recall.
Christine is interested in how performance can encourage participation, as a way of involving audiences in building collective memories. Her award winning exhibition at BALTIC in Jan 2013, ‘Memory Folds’, was a participatory show where performances by students from Royal Grammar School, joined members of the public. 80 students performed over a period of a month and the resulting ‘Memory Fold’ works numbered into the hundreds. The exhibition attracted many different age groups of people and they each shared their stories and memories. Many were moved by being able to share and participate. The work was later presented at Momentum, Frieze Art Fair in 2013 and ISADA conference at Sidcot School in 2014.
In 2015 Christine took part in ArtWorks Connecting the Conversation at BALTIC where she discussed her participatory practice in a conversation with artist Selina Thompson chaired by Ilana Mitchell, Artistic Director of Wunderbar. Documentation from this event is accessible on BALTIC+. balticplus.uk/artworks-connecting-the-conversation-part-1-christine-egan-fowler-c26654/ Christine won an ArtWorks Fellowship funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, supported by Barbican London and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Gateshead. The ArtWorks Fellowship resulted in her subsequent exhibition at BALTIC; Playing the Waiting Game The ArtWorks Fellowship – The Organisational Perspective 5th -27th Sept 2016 'An exploration of the connections between remembering and the senses, performance and painting, live and the archived.'
Christine has been involved with TALE, Tracking Arts Engagement and Learning - a three year research project investigating arts education in high schools in England, running from 2016 - 2018. She took part in the launch at the House of Lords in November 2018 of 'Time to Listen', a call for commitment to the Arts and culture; 'Every young person deserves to learn in an arts and culture rich school.'
Christine took part the recent BALTIC 39 conference 'In Need of Education’ as a teacher and a longstanding contributor to the MA in Fine Art and Education/ Artist Teacher Scheme, Northumbria University and BALTIC.
In 2018 Christine alongside Linda Peacock, Arts Co-ordinator at Jarrow Cross CE Primary School, approached Jane with the idea or organising an exhibition of children's drawings created in her workshops. This culminated in Jane founding Where Did All the Animals Go? project.
As an artist, Christine, like Jane, brings intense experience of materials, methods of connecting visual ideas and different perspectives to the school community. They are cultural and environmental brokers; encouraging the children and teacher to think globally and connect their real experiences, narratives and their own memories with what is shown in galleries and museums.
"Jane is at the centre of the project 'Where Did All The Animals Go?’ bringing extraordinary drawing workshops to schools and communities. The workshops are based around simple materials and compelling contextual information that encourage reflective thinking and challenge ideas about animals and their capacity to thrive. Her charismatic patience and knowledge of subject connects with both children and teachers in an extraordinary 'deep dive' of learning"
Cultural Lead Jarrow Cross CE Primary School, Project Instigator and Co-Partner
Linda Peacock worked as a glass artist before becoming a teacher. She is currently Early Years Lead at Jarrow Cross C E Primary School and also holds the position of Cutural Lead co-ordinating Expressive Arts and Design within the school. As Arts Award Adviser, over the years she has supported many children to achieve their Arts Award and certification at Discover and Explore levels.
"I endeavour to provide a rich and inspirational arts curriculum and support the children at Jarrow Cross to develop their cultural capital and reach their full creative potential."
Co-ordinator of Art and Technology, Mortimer Primary School, South Shields, Project Co-Partner
As well as Co-ordinator or Art and Technology at Mortimer Primary School, Katie also teaches in Reception. She has been teaching for 13 years and has taught in EYFS, KS1 and KS2.
"I have always had a passion for the Arts and feel that my subjects are often the areas within the curriculum where sometimes children who are less academic really achieve. The Arts are a vastly important part of the curriculum as they show a unique side to every child and help as an outlet where by children can really express themselves."
Arts Co-ordinator Bexhill Academy, Sunderland, Project Co-Partner
A teacher of 25 years, across Nottinghamshire and now Sunderland, Sandi is passionate about providing children with opportunities to shine. Having trained as an RE specialist, she loves when children talk about what they think and explore their ideas. Impassioned by history, Sandi is enthusiastic about children learning from the past and exploring how the world has changed. This is particularly the case for her art planning, where all the units of work start with art history sessions and where the children can learn about the lives of amazing artists. Over the last three years, Sandi has been privileged to work with SEND children in a mainstream setting, nurturing their talents and allowing them access to a more personalised curriculum, some of whom are incredible artists and being given the opportunity to succeed is a boost to their confidence.
"When we took part in the initial project, many of the children selected to work with Jane were SEND. Their work was breathtaking. I believe that all children should have their work proudly displayed and endeavour to create a gallery each term of children's artistic achievements. I am proud to teach art, proud to work with phenomenal children and proud to be part of the project."
Arts Co-ordinator St Mary Magdalen's RCVA Primary School, Seaham, Project Co-Partner
Sara is a First-Class Graduate in Fine Art at University of Sunderland. She is is currently a Lower Key Stage Two Teacher and has been teaching at St Mary Magdalen’s for the past four years where she is Art Co-ordinator.
"I believe that opportunities to be creative are fundamental to pupils’ wellbeing and attainment and as a Graduate in Fine Art I have continued my passion for art within my teaching practice. I hope that this project, which has given our children the opportunity to visit and exhibit their work in a local art gallery, will contribute to raising the profile for arts education throughout the North East.
Jane has worked with our school on a number of occasions and the children always enjoy her workshops, producing some incredible drawings which are unique to each and every child."
Junior School Staff, Royal Grammar School Newcastle, Project Co-Partner
For the past eight years Samantha has been very lucky to work at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle in her dream role coordinating Art and DT in the Junior School. During her time at the school, she has organised annual Art Days, trips to art galleries, art club, sculpture club and pottery club. Samantha also runs very popular annual competitions such as the Christmas hat competition, photography competition and the Easter Eggstravaganza. Pupils follow a tailored curriculum to ensure good progress in art-based skills.
"I believe every child is an artist and my job as a teacher is to inspire children to find their talent within the art room."
DR MERYL BATCHELDER
UN Accredited Climate Change Teacher, Corbridge Middle, Project Co-Partner
Dr Meryl Batchelder is a science teacher in Corbridge Middle School, Northumberland. She is a proponent of environmental education and STEAM. She aims to encourage pupils to appreciate the natural world and to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed for the green jobs of the future. In 2016 Meryl began linking her lessons to the Sustainable Development Goals to make learning relevant and engaging. She is a TeachSDG Ambassador and was one of the first UN Accredited Climate Change teachers. Meryl is also the lead on a pupil research project in the Royal Society Tomorrow’s Climate Scientist programme.
"STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. The 'A' is essential as it encompasses creativity and communication which are vital as we adapt to life on a changing planet. The WDATAG programme is a celebration of biodiversity and raises awareness of some of the precious but endangered animals that also call Earth their home."
CALIFORNIA OUTREACH TEAM
DR KIRSTEN ROGERS
Dentist, Project PR and Co-Partner
Kirsten worked as a dentist for 17 years in Edinburgh, London and Melbourne before moving to California with her family 7 years ago. After settling her young family, Kirsten found her niche in life as a volunteer dentist on international humanitarian and diplomatic missions. This has led her to travel as a team member of UC San Diego PreDental Society NGO all over the world partnering with the US Military on board the Hospital ships USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy to provide dental care and dental health education. Kirsten is currently a Volunteer Clinical Lecturer at University College San Diego in the department of Family Medicine and Public Health. She also volunteers at a food bank in Laguna Beach.
Kirsten is a lifelong fan of Jane’s art and helped facilitate the project's first outreach programme in Laguna Beach and Orange County. She introduced Jane to the education team at the prestigious Laguna Art Museum with whom a partnership formed to integrate Jane in LAM's 2020 Art & Nature Festival. She also organised Jane's workshop with children of Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach and opened her family home for Jane to deliver workshops to Laguna Beach children and adults. Participating in the workshops herself, Kirsten thought she couldn't draw but proved Jane's mantra 'everyone can draw' with her exceptional drawings of a puma and honey bee which can be viewed alongside drawings by her talented daughters Nina and Rosie, in the project's online gallery Wild Postcard Gallery. During a voluntary mission to Guyana, Kirsten met the inspirational Mayor Waneka Arrindell of Linden. Following Jane's visit to California, Kirsten contacted the Mayor to invite her to lead the project's outreach programme in Guyana. Kirsten is an integral part of the team devoting her time to project promotion and furthering international connections, accepting Jane's invitation to become project PR.
"I am delighted to help propel this important art and education project to nurture the love of wild animals and demonstrate that anyone can draw."
Education Outreach Manager and Project Co-Partner
Danelle Hickman supervises the Ocean Institute's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Department in Dana Point, California where she and her outreach team travel to regional locations teaching hands-on, experiential programs, many of which are grant-funded for underserved and special needs students.
In her early career, she was a product development manager for the Walt Disney Company, became a mom of two daughters, and transitioned to a career as an Environmental STEAM Educator. The common thread throughout her professional life is that Danelle continues to reinvent herself in order to follow her passion while relishing the journey.
Danelle's unique style of teaching fosters creativity and develops confidence in her students. Using the coastal environment as inspiration, Danelle incorporates color and nature into her engaging programs. Various environmental issues and their effects throughout our planet, on both land and in the ocean, are the unifying theme in the curriculum she has developed. Giving the next generation hope through education enables every student to come away with a sense of their impact on the health and future of the environment.
Danelle is also the published author of a children's activity book and has recently been writing children's stories about the ocean highlighting environmental challenges and the wonderful adaptations utilized by sea creatures.
"I feel privileged to share my love and appreciation for nature and proud to see the positive influence my work has on others."
GUYANA OUTREACH TEAM
MAYOR WANEKA ARRINDELL
Linden Mayor and Town Council, WDATAG Guyana Outreach Programme, Project Co-partner
Mrs. Waneka Odetta Arrindell, was born on January 24, 1979 to Desrie and Westwell Peters. She was raised in the Wisroc Community, Wismar and resides at M 28 Green Valley, Wismar, Linden, with her husband and three children. From humble beginnings, Mrs. Waneka Odetta Arrindell attended the Wisroc Nursery School, Wismar Hill Primary School and completed her Secondary education at the New Silver City Secondary School where she wrote and was successful at the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and graduated in 1998.
Mrs. Arrindell, went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Guyana, in hopes of giving back to her hometown. She also obtained a certificate in Theology which, she later realized would be extremely beneficial. Upon completion, she returned to Linden and began her first Job at the Linden Television Station where she worked as a reporter for approximately six months.
She then moved to work with Linden Care Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization, where she worked as a Project Coordinator with children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS, this she did, for approximately six years. She later volunteered at the Christianburg Wismar and Wisburg Secondary Schools, all the while working with slow learners at the One Mile Primary School. Mrs. Arrindell has always been a part of the Christian community, one which, to her is not only a religion but a way of life. She spent a number of years, working within the Sunday School and Missionette Department as a teacher. She was the Secretary and President of the Sectional Youth Ministry in Linden for over ten years, managing projects and activities of the youths from approximately 18 churches within the community and region as a whole. This allowed for the sharing of information to many other faith-based organizations.
Through this leadership and projects conducted, she was able to bring awareness and education about HIV and AIDS to various churches in Linden. In 2016, Mrs. Arrindell, was elected the Deputy Mayor of Linden, a position she held for two years. In 2018, she was elected Mayor of Linden, a prestigious position which now allows her to use most of her attributes, skills and training to serve her community. Today, Mrs. Arrindell, is making major strides in the development of her hometown, she believes that a community can only grow, if we work to build each other up. She is truly, a modern-day philanthropist. Her motto is:
"If better can be had, then good is not good enough..."
DR RAQUEL THOMAS
Director Iwokaram International Centre, tropical forest ecologist, WDATAG Guyana Outreach Programme, Project Co-partner
Dr Raquel Thomas is a tropical forest ecologist and is attached as Director, Resource Management and Training at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and development (IIC) in Guyana, South America, an international partnership between the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth. The IIC manages a one million acre rain forest reserve in the centre of Guyana and this is one of five Protected Areas in Guyana. With over 25 years of experience in natural resource management in particular related to the forest, Raquel works with several areas including forest research, forestry business development, Tourism, project management, community development, training to name a few.
While she appreciates wildlife after studying a large seed dispersing rodent called the Agouti for her PhD work many years ago, her passion is for plants of which she has taught many over the years, forest botany in particular. Wildlife cannot live without plants and plants need wildlife- everything interacts and are all important. The rivers, the soils, the standing forests, the open savannahs all connect and at the centre of this is People. Iwokrama uses a people-centred approach to conservation as if peoples livelihoods are not intact they will not protect the environment they live in.
Iwokrama also has a co-management partnership with 20 Indigenous communities in and around the Iwokrama Forest She also is active in a volunteer capacity in several environmental NGOs including the Guyana Marine Conservation Society and International Society for Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield. She also has great concern for human rights issues and co-founded Guyana Citizens Initiative for Flood Relief in 2005 and also Citizens Against Rape in 2012. She was the Chair of the Board of the governmental Protected Areas Commission from 2017 to March 2020. Raquel also loves the creative arts:
"I feel that it must be a great part of STEM ... STEAM as it is creativity that is also needed for innovation."
Biologist, Mphil student University of Guyana, WDATAG Guyana Outreach Programme, Project Co-partner and Art Ambassador
Arianne-Elise Harris is a Guyanese biologist and artist. She grew up in a household of artists and comedians so expressing herself always came easy. In High school, she did traditional art and graphics but went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Guyana. Despite choosing a career in science, she always kept art close to her, growing her skill set as she gained traction in her Biology career. She chose to do Fundamentals of Drawings as her elective at University and thus began to adapt her art to capture and interpret wildlife outside the perspective of a “scientist”. Arianne's bio image shows her standing beside her painting of a squirrel monkey on display at the Amerindian Heritage Exhibition, Castellani House in 2019. Currently, Arianne is enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Guyana. Outside of art, she studies Biodiversity response to logging activities with a primary focus on their population ecology.
"Combining my love for art and conservation has allowed me to understand wildlife and even appreciate it on another level."
REHANA ANITA RAGOOBEER
Bsc. Environmental Studies University of Guyana, Human resources Co-ordinator Iwokrama International Center, WDATAG Guyana Outreach Programme, Project Co-partner
Rehana Ragoobeer developed an early interest in love for the natural environment from the tender age of eight years old, during her August vacations to the Pomeroon River, an interior area found in Region two, Guyana. These vacations usually turn into summer classes as she helps her father, who is an artist and headteacher to teach the children there, art and nature. The beautiful sights and the wildlife spotted developed her love for nature and its conservation. She also developed the habit of drawing some of the scenery she came across while sitting at the river side in the afternoons, which she was eager to show her coast lander classmates. This triggered her to join the very first Environmental club of the Anna Regina Secondary School in her early High school years. Rehana later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies, graduating in 2019 at the University of Guyana. There she took part in many environmental education activities and did many posters and other performing art presentations for campus career days and earth hour sessions.
Rehana's final year research project was based on the importance of Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Climate Change education on primary school teachers. After graduating she was offered a position at Human resources Coordinator of the Iwokrama International Center for Rainforest Conservation and Development, where she is afforded the opportunity to help manage a prestigious organization that is centered on environmental conservation, and is one of Guyana’s five protected areas. In a few years Rehana is looking forward to further her studies in the conservation management field. Now, twenty three years old and mother of a two years old:
"I see the need for art to be utilized as an effective medium for fostering environmental stewardship at the youngest possible age."
MSc Forest Biology University of Guyana, Consultant for Iwokrama International Center, WDATAG Guyana Outreach Programme, Project Co-partner
Reshma Persaud holds an MSc in Forest Biology and is a Lecturer at the Department of Biology, University of Guyana and serves as a Consultant for the Iwokrama Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development. Over the past 7 years she has been actively involved in many population ecology studies, the most notable of her works, for which she was a grant recipient, being her graduate study on earthworm population ecology which was the first study of its kind in Guyana, yielding a number of taxonomically unknown species. Through this study she has established connections with Cardiff University, UK and the Federal University of Paraná in Curitiba, Brazil.
For her PhD studies, she will be pursuing the IUCN threatened species, the yellow footed turtle, which currently suffers from local data deficiency.
KENYA OUTREACH TEAM
Marketing and Communications Officer, Born Free Kenya, WDATAG Kenya Outreach Programme and Project Co-partner
Ivy joined the Born Free team in 2019. She is responsible for communications, enterprise and partnerships in Kenya, creating awareness on wildlife conservation through social media and seeking partnerships from local partners. She has a passion for building brands, and working with charities, with professional experience in marketing, communications and advertising.
Education Programmes Leader, Born Free Kenya, WDATAG Kenya Outreach Programme and Project Co-partner
Together with her team of two Education Officers, Phoebe aims to enhance the knowledge, attitudes and livelihoods of schools and communities who live closest to wildlife. By working with these communities we can hope to help them see the benefits of the wildlife they share their lives with, through the right conservation information and support for sustainable economic activities.
MALAYSIA OUTREACH TEAM
DR. MELVIN GUMAL
Head of Biodiversity Conservation and Research Division, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) Parks and Wildlife, WDATAG Malaysia Outreach Programme and Project Co-partner
Melvin joined SFC in October in 2020, after nearly 18 years as the head of Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia, and previously, 15 years in the National Parks and Wildlife Office of the Sarawak Govt. He was the 2014 Whitley Award winner for “Conservation in Great Ape Habitats” and for their continued funding from 2017-2020. At SFC, he manages teams that carry out conservation ranging from large mammals to small insects as well as to marine life. He is an Adjunct Professor to Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus.
Head of Community Engagement & Service Initiatives Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) Parks and Wildlife, WDATAG Malaysia Outreach Programme and Project Co-partner
Bistari started working on conservation education in Sarawak in the late 1990s. She develops education activities with school students as well as villagers living in and around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Her programmes includes conservation awareness on turtles, orang utans, crocodiles and hornbills in Sarawak.