We sat down for five minutes with Kelsey Schueler, a Senior Associate supporting Environmental Incentives’ International Practice. Kelsey tells us more about her role, what drew her into the environmental field, and the key trends she sees emerging in international development.
How would you describe your role?
I work primarily on the USAID Measuring Impact II (MI2) activity, which supports USAID thought leaders, mission staff, and Washington bureaus to apply evidence-based adaptive management across USAID’s biodiversity portfolio. As part of the capacity building team, I work directly with USAID missions and with other USAID staff in the field. My role is to coordinate and facilitate learning and quality control across all the team members working in the field, which currently includes 65 teams across 20 missions. We provide technical advice, deliver workshops, conduct hands-on training, and support evidence-based learning. I help coordinate this process and I also provide direct support in the field to teams in Latin America and the Caribbean. Being able to support USAID missions directly gives me a great opportunity to help develop tools and guidance documents that mission staff can use as they implement USAID’s Program Cycle. I’m fortunate to be able to help missions through the entire Program Cycle, including program design; monitoring, evaluation and learning; knowledge management; and collaborating, learning and adapting; among others.
What was your dream job growing up?
Both of my parents work in the conservation field. I grew up with an intrinsic appreciation for the environment and natural resources. When I was young, I was inspired by role models like Jane Goodall and imagined that I would work in the field doing science and conservation, perhaps as a marine biologist. As I grew older, I realized that a lot of people don’t have the same background or values as I do. As a result, I grew more interested in studying the social side of conservation and the idea that we care about nature because of people.
What drew you to work at Environmental Incentives initially?
I was eager to have the experience of working in a small business and all of the learning that goes along with that. Being a part of a small, nimble team allows for many interesting opportunities to expand your skillset. I also really enjoy the opportunity to get to know colleagues well and to be part of an environment that can change and adapt quickly.
I was also interested in Environmental Incentives’ focus on adaptive management and performance and applying that approach to conservation. Environmental Incentives works at the intersection of science, policy, and human drivers, which is really interesting to me.
What is your favorite part about working for Environmental Incentives?
I love working with our USAID clients in the Office of Forestry and Biodiversity. Through MI2, there is also a buy-in mechanism that allows missions and other USAID bureaus to request our assistance, so we now have clients that we work with directly in the field as well. I really like being able to interact with such an interesting mix of international development folks on a wide range of biodiversity projects. It is really rewarding to see the appetite for innovation, learning, and adaptive management from our clients.
I also love that as a company, we practice what we preach. We incorporate a lot of the tools and processes that we use with our clients into our own internal management. I think this helps build empathy with folks in the field when they know that we trust and rely on these same processes that we are teaching them.