Storyteller finds challenge in conservation

By Emma Discher. Originally published in HoumaToday.

Nicholls State University alumna Harmony Hamilton sharpened her storytelling skills studying broadcast journalism, but now she’s putting it to use to promote the work of Audubon Louisiana.

Hamilton’s task is to tell the story of Audubon’s conservation work in Louisiana and break down the issues for the community as Louisiana’s first Walker Communications Fellow.

She first visited the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion where land is being built up. Her final project will be on the Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary where 200 species of birds take their final rest before making their 400-mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico.

“Harmony didn’t come in with an extensive background with conservation,” Audubon Communications Director Jacques Hebert said. “She has really great storytelling abilities and ... you can understand her work or what she’s saying and it can resonate with you. Our coastal crisis is so significant and people on the coast know that, but ... (others) are not as aware.”

There are other fellows in New York and San Francisco, but Hamilton is the first for Louisiana. She says hearing the passion in the voices of the conservation workers that she talks to is her favorite part of her job. This helps her to tell their stories.

“We’re here to bring their work to the younger generations,” Hamilton said. “It’s an eye opener. It’s a lot of stuff that you don’t know what’s going on. ... It’s that initial click that ... can be a little challenging. Our generation doesn’t like to read, we like to watch videos. I’ve been finding ways to do more videos and pretty pictures with shorter text.”

Hamilton was looking to continue her education in journalism with a master's degree before posts about the Walker Communications Fellowship for Audubon Louisiana caught her eye.

“I never thought about working for a nonprofit organization at all especially coming from a hard news background this wasn’t on my radar at all,” she said. “It allows me to be more creative with my storytelling.”

Hamilton now says she’s looking for full-time opportunities with the organization.

Before she graduated from Nicholls in 2015, Hamilton was the secretary of the radio television digital news association, the managing editor of Garde Voir Ci magazine and intern at WDSU, and she covered Nicholls sporting events with KTIB and KNSU.

It was these experiences at Nicholls and Hamilton’s background growing up in LaPlace that made her stand out among the applicants, according to Hebert.

“We put out a call for applicants and we did get a ton of interest,” Hebert said. “Harmony has knowledge. She’s from Louisiana. She went to Nicholls. She has done a lot of reporting both at Nicholls and interviews with local TV stations, so she really stood out among the crowd of applicants. I’m glad she’s on board. She’s been doing a great job.”

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