Former park ranger Don Macanlalay turns blogging and Instagram hobbies into visual storytelling job at The Nature Conservancy.

Share story

Don Macanlalay

What do you do? I’m the social media and digital marketing manager for the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy [based in Seattle].

How did you get started in that field? In 2009, I started as a park ranger intern in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and began blogging in my free time. It was just at the beginning of the blogging boom, and not many people were telling visual stories about getting outdoors and having that personal connection. I eventually went to The Nature Conservancy as a marketing intern, then Instagram came around and I started telling my stories that way. Before I knew it, I had close to 50k followers at directedbydon! Now I’m in the great Pacific Northwest, and honestly, ending up in this field … it sort of found me in a way through all of that.

What’s a typical day like? I schedule social media posts for all of our channels, and work on upcoming stories for the blog with fellow staff. I have to be in touch with all our staff, who might be anywhere from meeting a senator in Washington, D.C., to out on top of a mountain in the Central Cascades to shocking fish for a stream survey on the Olympic Peninsula to a beach on the Washington coast. They send me their photos and stories, and I get to share them with the world through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I also get out of the office and live-tweet events, or volunteer work parties, and sometimes I host Instagram meetups to build relationships with our supporters and encourage more beautiful photography with the hashtag #northwestnature.

What surprises people about your work? How large [and] complex restoration is and how beneficial it is for recreation, people and nature.

What’s the best part of the job? When I get to interact with people who follow us online, and tell us how much our work inspires them to love the outdoors and take care of it.

Do you have a cool job or know someone in the Puget Sound area who does? Email us with your recommendations for people to feature in Cool Jobs.