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Daily Inspiration: Meet Brooke Mitchell-Norman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brooke Mitchell-Norman.

Hi Brooke, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Growing up in the rolling Appalachian Hills of southern Ohio, my childhood was filled with long days exploring my property’s woods, “vacationing” at the local campground, and kayaking down the area’s many creeks and rivers. I was always drawn to nature without the slightest clue why. Instead of watching cartoons on Saturday mornings, I’d turn on the Discovery channel and consume any nature documentary available at the time – lions in the Serengeti, lemurs in Madagascar, the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. I always dreamed of seeing these places in person, but coming from a humble background with no true exposure to the greater world, traveling outside of the US seemed unattainable at the time.

Being exposed to so little, the only career I knew of that could save wildlife was veterinary medicine. With bull-headed determination, I went to The Ohio State University for my bachelor’s where I studied Zoology and pre-veterinary medicine. However, during my senior year, I began to doubt my path and questioned if becoming a vet was the best way to utilize my gifts. Through a twist of fate, I was partnered with the two worst interviewers possible when I applied to vet school, and I left the room with my mind settled: I was going to find a new path that didn’t involve veterinary medicine.

After OSU, I bounced around the zoo world until I found my graduate program, Project Dragonfly at Miami University. Finally, I discovered a way to travel the world while earning a master’s degree in the field I loved the most, conservation biology. During my studies, I learned that conservation travel is one of the strongest tools for conserving our globe’s wildlife and natural places, and so I decided from that moment on I’d dedicate my career to the field.

After several applications, I landed a job at one of the most well-known conservation travel companies in the world, Natural Habitat Adventures in Louisville, CO, where I worked for several years until the pandemic forced leadership to cut my entire department. I was lost. In a flash, years of work and growth were taken away from me. What was I to do? After March 2020, the travel and conservation industries crashed, leaving me with no outlet for making the world a better place.

That’s when the idea of Rewildology came to be. I had always enjoyed podcasts, but I had never found the show I was looking for. So, through months of research and planning, I learned how to create a podcast from the ground up, while also learning how to craft engaging conversations with people from every background. Once I finally felt that all the necessary pieces were in place, I took a leap of faith and launched the podcast’s first three episodes on January 26th, 2021. I haven’t looked back. Since its inception, the podcast has released over 80 episodes featuring guests working on all seven continents and in 30+ countries.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being a trained biologist with no exposure to audio engineering, show production, social media management, etc., the journey from launching Rewildology to growing the show has been a complete roller coaster. I doubt myself on a weekly basis and suffered extreme imposter syndrome in the beginning, but now that the show is thriving, the emotional swings are starting to level off. People are truly being impacted by the show, and that’s what matters.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Rewildology is different from most nature podcasts in that it offers an unfiltered, authentic view of conservation from the people that have dedicated their lives to the field. Most conservationists are expected to exhibit little-to-no feelings in the public eye and remain neutral on most hot-button topics. This couldn’t be further from reality. Passion is the driver of everyone in the field. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing. In addition, throughout my travels across the globe, I’ve met incredible people that have never been given the opportunity to share their stories. Rewildology changes this by hosting people from every niche of conservation and travel and allowing them to openly share their work, triumphs, and struggles. The stories I’ve been told are wild!

In conjunction with Rewildology, I’m back in travel as the Director of Conservation for The Wild Source, a mission-based safari company based in Golden.

My story has come full circle – I have a platform that’s creating more impact than I could have ever imagined, I’m back in conservation travel at a company with my same ethos, and I’m meeting the most amazing people.

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Image Credits
Professional Headshots by Alex Gradisher

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