Personal story of Frits Hesselink

Why I started Frogleaps

Frits HesselinkI always loved the altruism of people working in conservation. For them plants, animals and landscapes are often more important than their own personal interests. I see how hard they work under often difficult circumstances. And I admire their belief in such meaningful efforts.

To work as a international communication consultant in this field is rewarding in different ways: I can help people to be more successful, I learn from them and from different situations, I experience all kind of conservation approaches and make friends in many places.

In my work I always try to combine advice with coaching. Helping experts and their teams to see for themselves how important it is to think in terms of behavior change. And what is needed for such change. Not just information. Listen first. Explore what causes specific behaviors that threaten nature. What would motivate desired behavior? And what communication and other interventions would be most helpful to bring success.

I learned that starting small is always a good approach. Success makes success follow. I also learned not to immediately jump to communication means: videos, brochures etc. I have seen cases where a simple phone call solved problems that people for years had tried to tackle in vain with brochures, lectures, videos and newspaper articles.

Often I tell such stories when working with nature conservationists to illustrate my advice not to start with objectives like “we need to raise awareness, so let’s make a video”.  Awareness does not lead to behavior change. Behavior is driven by other factors. Information plays a minimal role, if any role at all.

Often after a project is finished I keep contact with the clients, who have become colleagues and friends. In many cases they come back to me with questions about next steps in their project or work. As best as I can I happily provide such after care. I like sharing what I learned from others.

It also motivated me to make the knowledge I gained over the years available to a wider audience of conservationists than the few I worked with face to face. So brainstorming with my colleague Peter Paul we came to the idea to transform this knowledge into a series of e-courses. That is how Frogleaps was born. Free courses, as the people I learned from, never asked me for money.


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