Roots and Shoots Launch and Link Conference Jane Goodall Institute

I love this work. And, as I’m sure you know, information at conferences can be very technical and specific to an organization. Even in the most technical of times with a topic that I’m not well-versed in, I love this work. It is so diverse and challenging! One day I might be drawing out the details of a new computer analytics software, and the next I could be storyboarding the most recent global statistics about Hepatitis C. It’s truly a wonderful job.

Having said this, I think that if I were forced to choose to be the “go-to” graphic recorder in one particular area, the topic would be environmental/social sustainability and the demographic would be youth. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to work such an event and it was the perfect match for my skills and interests. Aside from getting to record for Jane Goodall and Robert Bateman as they spoke about the importance of spending time outdoors and youth engagement, I got to work along side a group of passionate high school students focusing their efforts on social and environmental change.

Erica at the Robert Bateman and Jane Goodall Event

It’s quite normal for people to come up to the Graphic Recorder and express that they’ve never seen this type of thing before and that they find it very interesting. In fact, I’m constantly amazed at how many of us are visual thinkers and how helpful they find the visual representation of what’s going on in the room. It’s always very flattering when they share their thoughts on why they think this work is impactful.

At the Jane Goodall event, the high school students were over the moon with having their ideas expressed in images and they did not hesitate to come up and let me know.  When I work with such an enthusiastic group of young people, I get SO energized! I almost always hand over some of my markers and show them how to add “drop” shadows or draw out a title. At one point during the weekend, there were five of us working on the board at the same time. So much fun! It’s important to me that their ideas are captured on the board. Sometimes that means having them tell me what visuals would best represent what they’re trying to say. Other times the students want draw the ideas themselves, and I say, “Great! Have a go at it!”

Too often we are told that artists struggle and are warned against following a path that may lead to poor career options. Sharing this work with youth is an opportunity to show how creativity and an artistic flare can be a part of their working future, and to encourage them not give up for fear of reaching a dead-end.