My vision as a mentor is to increase the number of women leaders that work in the conservation, & wildlife management industry.
~ Jess McKelson, Founder
Hi! I’m Jess, a serious conservationist determined to support your journey into becoming an inspiring leader and role model. I am passionate about mentoring you to help achieve your career goals, and connect you with inspiring women leaders in the conservation and wildlife management industry. I love to see other woman succeed and nothing brings me greater pleasure than to help you along on this journey!
For the past 17 years, I have led successful animal husbandry and behavioural training programs both ex-situ and in-situ. I am the Founder and Director of a successful eco-tourism business (Raw Wildlife Encounters) and the Founder of Raw Conservation Indonesia, both of which manage and support a wide range of conservation and community development programs from 2011-2022. Previously, I was supervisor/manager for strong and successful teams both in Australia and Indonesia: within the zoo and Non-Government Organisation (NGO) industries. I have successfully led teams that are 100% male with diverse religions and cultures, as well as teams that are mixed gender with diverse religious and cultural views.
I am not a trained psychologist or therapist and therefore this is purely a program based on supporting your career progression and providing you with real-life examples of today’s inspiring woman leaders in the field of your interest.
Some of my key learning experiences and greatest successes have been within remote Indonesian rainforests, where women are often disregarded as managers and very few women work in conservation.
These were the environments I was located in when working with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), where I supervised and coordinated teams to successfully develop and support rescued orphan Sumatran orangutan rehabilitation, training and husbandry programs, whilst preparing them for a wild release within Aceh, Jantho orangutan reintroduction station.
I also developed an eco-tourism company in Indonesia and a conservation NGO as a second community livelihood program within the North Sumatra Leuser Ecosystem, with the aim of protecting endangered wildlife from deforestation and illegal activities. I have also developed and implemented programs to provide local villagers with alternative livelihoods rather than illegal logging and poaching.
Other key learning experiences came during my time working in Australia’s highly competitive zoo industry, where I worked as Supervisor of Primates at Melbourne Zoo for over 13 years, focusing on behavior changes to improve the primate’s social groupings: a significant step in improving their welfare.
My time trekking and working in the Sumatran rainforest, analyzing various situations both personally and professionally, has given me the strength and insight to provide this unique training and mentoring program which I want to share with you.
Personal attributes I gained during these experiences include determination; self-confidence; patience; acceptance; networking; and providing others with opportunities to grow both professionally and personally - into inspiring leaders and teachers. I want you to succeed.