Lauren Cole

(California-Santa Barbara)

The Conservationist | 40 Under 40 Class of 2020

FAST FACTS

  • Favorite Food
    Anything Thai
     

  • Favorite Color
    Sapphire Blue
     

  • Vacation Destination
    Anywhere I haven’t been before!

GET TO KNOW LAUREN

Lauren Cole loves animals and teaching. She gets to combine the two as the university course coordinator of the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. Scroll down to learn more about her career and how it’s meaningful to her.

EXTENDED INTERVIEW

What inspired you to go into this line of work?

I have always been passionate about animals and the environment (particularly the ocean), so I knew I wanted to do something in that field. My undergraduate university had a great marine biology program, so that was the perfect fit for me. Through my research, I found that teaching was my real passion which has allowed me to combine the best of both worlds – working with animals and people!

 

What challenge did you overcome to get where you are today?

The biggest challenge I have at the moment is being so far from my family. I’ve been in Australia for nearly 10 years now, but it’s still hard only getting to visit people a few weeks a year. I don’t know what I’d do without my overseas phone plan!

 

Did someone help you get to where you are today, like a mentor?

I’ve always had a really strong support system in my family, as both mentors and cheerleaders. I like to talk through problems when I have them, so I’ve always appreciated my family for being such good listeners.

 

What do you love most about your job?

Everything! I love that every day is different and a challenge. The zoo is beautiful, the people are passionate and I get the opportunity to learn and teach something new every day.

Vacation or Staycation

Apple or Android

Cats or Dogs

Stripes or Polka Dots

Physical Book or  Audiobook

Describe yourself in three words.

Committed, thoughtful and silly.

 

Your life philosophy is…

Just keep going!

If someone handed you an airline ticket to a place of your choosing, where would you go and why?

Somewhere in South America, there’s quite a few places there that are on my bucket list!

 

What’s something you cannot live without?

My border collie/husky rescue puppy.

 

How do you unwind or relax after a long day?

I live in the Aussie bush, so going for walks with the dog and my husband after a long day is always wonderful.

 

The most rewarding aspect of your job is…

Feeling like the work we are doing is making a difference. The next generation has a lot of weight on their shoulders to find solutions to today’s problems, so I’d like to think that we are giving them the skills they will need to be successful.

 

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?

“Your actions make a difference.”

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

I think just to believe in myself more. I always like to have everything mapped out before I make decisions, but lately I’m learning that sometimes you just have to jump in and go!

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Switch gears. There’s always something else that needs doing and getting something else off your to-do list feels great.

 

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be money, time, energy, etc.)

I spent a fair bit on money, planning and training for a hiking trip through Papua New Guinea a few years ago with some work colleagues. I was absolutely terrified beforehand that I wasn’t prepared enough. Once I got going, the scenery was breathtaking and you have nothing else to focus on except putting one foot in front of the other, which was really refreshing. It put a lot of things into perspective and reminded me to appreciate life.

Name a confident woman of character who you look up to? Why her?

Jane Goodall. She has been such a powerful voice in wildlife conservation. She came to visit recently and the way she speaks and connects with people is inspiring.