About Olivia's Work
Olivia Walton is currently the Education Coordinator for a small nonprofit in the Virgin Islands called the St. Croix Environmental Association. Being from St. Croix, Olivia is passionate about giving back to her community with the experience and skills cultivated throughout her career in environmental research and education. According to Olivia, one of the biggest ways being a Switzer Fellow has impacted her life was receiving a Switzer Leadership Grant, which enabled her to move home to St. Croix and to work as an environmental educator in the community where she grew up. Becoming a member of Switzer's Fellows Advisory Committee was a way to give back to another influential community in her life, the Switzer Network.
Olivia Walton has been passionate about encouraging children to build positive relationships with nature since she was a 4-H leader in high school. She graduated with honors from Cornell University with a B.S. in Natural Resources, where she fostered an interest in community outreach through participating in mentorship programs with local children. After graduating, she discovered her love for communicating science through art by using travel writing and photography as a vehicle to bring to light conservation issues around the globe. She also explored her calling to work with children by teaching full-time at a local Montessori school and later directing their outdoor science program for a summer. Finally, through an internship with the Student Conservation Association, Olivia was able to combine her passions by working as a seasonal park ranger at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. This experience led her to pursue a degree that would allow her to both creatively communicate ecological based research while also exploring the role outreach plays in environmental conservation.
Olivia received a Master’s of Environmental Science at the University of New Haven. Her thesis takes a look at the efficacy of environmental education as an avenue to garner community support for local conservation issues. Working with a small primary school on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, Olivia used survey data to examine the impacts of an environmental education program she has designed and is implementing with the support of the Gerace Research Center also located on San Salvador Island. She is especially interested in exposing the youth of underprivileged communities to the beauty of their natural environment by utilizing creative outlets such as writing and photography to spark their passion for the natural world around them. Her goal is to utilize the data and insight from her thesis to develop a platform for different communities to easily access environmental education and gain exposure to different ecosystems and cultures around the world. Olivia firmly believes that to protect the future of our environment we must teach our children to love the Earth.