Environmentalist: What Is It and What They Do?

Are you someone who loves nature and wants to protect our precious planet? Maybe you’re curious about those passionate folks often seen rallying for cleaner oceans, advocating for endangered species, or urging politicians to take climate change seriously.

An environmentalist is precisely that kind of hero—but what does this term mean?

An interesting fact: Environmentalists don’t just hug trees; they use science, education, and policymaking skills to safeguard the Earth for everyone’s future. If the environment means the world to you (pun intended), then understanding how one person can make a difference is crucial.

This article will guide you through what environmentalists do, the many hats they wear to keep Earth healthy and vibrant, and how perhaps even you could become one, too! Ready to explore? Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents [Hide]

  1. What Exactly is an Environmentalist?
  2. What Does an Environmentalist Do?
  3. Common Environmentalist Fields
  4. Types of Environmentalists
  5. How to Become an Environmentalist?
  6. Tips for Aspiring Environmentalists
  7. The Bottom Line

What Exactly is an Environmentalist?

An environmentalist cares deeply about the Earth and its ecosystems. They fight to protect air, water, and land from pollution and destruction. Their work supports life on our planet for animals, plants, and people.

Environmentalists push for policy changes and individual behaviors to make a healthier world.

Environmentalists also oppose harming natural resources. This could mean saying no to cutting down forests or fighting against harmful mining practices. They work daily to keep nature safe from damage caused by human activity.

Let’s see what these environmental defenders do in their daily work.

What Does an Environmentalist Do?

Environmentalists work hard to protect our natural world. They conduct research, find problems, and look for solutions. Their focus is on ecology and defending the environment from harm.

Environmentalists test air, water, and soil to protect them from pollutants. They also teach people how to take care of Earth’s resources.

They fight for laws that safeguard forests, oceans, and wildlife. Environmentalists might write reports or educate others about sustainability in their daily jobs. Sometimes, they stand up against big companies that hurt nature.

Some examples of different environmental fields of study and interest:

  • Renewable energy
  • Waste management
  • Biodiversity
  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Environmental policy
  • Conservation
  • Pollution

Common Environmentalist Fields

Dive into the diverse world of environmentalist careers, where you could find your niche working as a scientist advocating for policy change, educating future generations, or directly engaging with nature to make a tangible impact.

Environmental Scientists

Environmental scientists fight to protect the environment. They conduct laboratory tests and research, looking closely at pollution and contamination. Their work often involves monitoring different environments for hazardous materials.

These scientists then suggest ways to clean and save our natural spaces.

They need a solid education to do this job well. Most have at least a bachelor’s degree in areas like environmental science or ecology. Some even earn advanced degrees, which can help them get better jobs.

The demand for these experts is growing fast because people care more about the Earth’s health than ever. Strong analytical skills are also vital for anyone wanting to work as an environmental scientist.

Environmental Lobbyists

Environmental lobbyists fight to protect our planet. They meet with lawmakers and push for laws that clean our air, water, and land. These lobbyists work for groups who care about the Earth.

They try to make significant changes through new policies or laws.

Lobbyists also help by making people aware of issues that hurt the environment. They run campaigns and raise money to support greener laws. More environmental lobbyists are needed as more people want a cleaner planet.

Their work makes sure everyone thinks about nature when they create new rules.

Environmental Educators

Environmental educators play a crucial role in teaching people about nature and how to protect it. They show communities the impact of their daily actions on our planet. These teachers also share ways to live more sustainably.

Their lessons touch on many topics, such as recycling, saving energy, and choosing green products.

These educators work in schools, parks, and nonprofit organizations. They create engaging programs for all ages. By doing so, they inspire others to care for the environment.

Their goal is to make everyone a part of the solution for a healthier Earth.

Types of Environmentalists

Discover the diverse range of passionate individuals championing the environment, from those on the front lines of climate advocacy to experts striving for conservation and defending our natural resources.

Each environmentalist type brings a unique focus and set of skills to address pressing ecological challenges.

Climate Activists

Climate activists fight to stop global warming. They work hard to change policies and people’s minds about the climate. Young leaders like Greta Thunberg inspire many around the world.

These activists join significant movements, lead school strikes, and speak out for change.

They want governments to act fast against the climate crisis. Activists often focus on social justice for all, primarily indigenous communities affected by pollution and resource extraction.

Their actions include protests, educating others, and working with environmental groups.


Conservationists work hard to improve the environment. Their goal is to ensure future generations enjoy a healthier planet. These environmental heroes started their essential work in the 19th and 20th centuries.

They fight against deforestation and push for wildlife preservation.

As part of the conservation movement, these individuals use science to protect nature. Conservationists help create laws and policies that save our forests, rivers, and animals. They know healthy ecosystems lead to a sustainable world for all of us.

Environmental Defenders

Environmental defenders confront significant risks that threaten our Earth. They bravely oppose harmful waste dumping and unfair land acquisition. They also oppose big projects that can damage nature.

These defenders work hard to keep the planet safe from harm caused by digging for resources or building on precious land.

They face violence and danger to protect forests, rivers, and oceans. Environmental human rights defenders often speak for communities that don’t have a loud voice in big environmental decisions.

Their goal is to make sure everyone’s rights are respected when it comes to nature and health.


Greens care deeply about our Earth. They blend environmental protection with social justice. As members of green parties, they work hard to solve climate crises and improve public health.

Their focus includes cleaner air, safer water, and protecting natural spaces.

These activists don’t just talk; they take action. They run for office, create laws, and teach others about the environment. Greens push for significant changes in how we treat our planet.

They fight against polluted skies and toxic waste every day.

Water Protectors

Water protectors stand up for our rivers, lakes, and oceans. They believe water is sacred and fight to keep it clean and safe. These defenders are often from indigenous communities.

They teach others to see the land and water as precious gifts.

Their work is part of a more significant effort to care for Earth’s resources. Water protectors face challenges like pollution and harmful mining practices. By defending the water, they also assert their culture and rights.

Their mission shows us how caring for the environment honors nature and human heritage.

How to Become an Environmentalist?

Are you curious about diving into the heart of environmentalism and turning your passion for the planet into a career? Discovering how to become an environmentalist starts with pinpointing your interest area and taking steps toward specialized education that can empower you to make a tangible impact on ecological issues.

Choosing a Field

Think about what you love. Are you into protecting wildlife, fighting climate change, or improving environmental policy? Your passion will guide you to the right field. Explore different areas of environmentalism, like science, law, or education.

Each area needs people who are eager to make a difference.

Look at job outlooks and consider where you can have the most impact. Maybe working with land defenders excites you, or perhaps being an air quality engineer is your calling. Research each path and talk to professionals in those fields.

They can give you insights into what skills and education are needed for success.

Earning an Undergraduate Degree

Earning an undergraduate degree is a big step for future environmentalists. You get to study topics like biology, chemistry, and physics. These subjects help you understand how nature works.

You can choose from programs like environmental science, engineering, or policy. It’s important because it gives you the knowledge to tackle environmental issues.

Look into colleges that offer vital environmental programs. A bachelor’s degree in your chosen field will open many doors for employment. Geography, hydrology, and waste disposal courses are common in these studies.

They teach you to solve problems and conduct analyses using the scientific method. This training prepares you for real-world challenges as an environmentalist.

Completing Internships

Get your foot in the door with internships to build up experience as an environmentalist. You’ll work on real projects and solve actual environmental problems. These opportunities let you meet professionals who can help guide your career.

They also show potential employers that you’re serious about making a difference in the environment.

Find internships at organizations or companies focused on environmental protection. You will learn by doing, whether it’s testing water samples, tracking wildlife, or helping to reduce air pollution.

Each task teaches valuable skills that make you stand out when applying for jobs as an environmental scientist or any other role in this critical field.

Considering Further Education

You might consider getting a master’s or doctoral degree after your bachelor’s. This can help you explore environmental topics and research more deeply and often lead to better job opportunities, especially if you want to be an environmental scientist.

A higher degree means learning more about environmental laws, policies, and science. You’ll also get the chance to work on big projects that can impact our planet.

If teaching others energizes you, further education could lead to becoming an environmental educator or even working in policymaking.

Receiving Certification

Getting certified can boost your career as an environmentalist. Look for relevant certifications in your field of interest. These might include environmental regulations, occupational safety and health, or environmental engineering.

Certifications show employers you have specific skills and knowledge. To stay current, you may need to pass exams and complete continuing education courses.

Certification can lead to higher pay, too. The national average salary for an environmental specialist is around $61,933 per year. With certification, you could earn even more.

Tips for Aspiring Environmentalists

If you’re keen on planting your roots in environmentalism and nurturing a career that makes a real-world impact, these pointers can steer you toward greener pastures. It’s about connecting with groups that share your passion, digging deep into causes close to your heart, and lending your hands where the Earth needs it most.

Joining an Organization

Look for groups that care about the environment. These organizations offer support and help you meet others with the same goals. You can learn from experienced activists and find ways to get involved in big projects.

Joining can also lead to jobs. Many environmentalists started working with a group on issues like clean water or saving forests. This valuable experience shows future employers that you are committed and skilled.

Researching Various Causes

Researching various causes is critical for aspiring environmentalists. You’ll dive into air pollution, deforestation, and climate change issues. Get facts on how these problems hurt people, animals, and our planet.

Find out what’s causing harm to the environment.

Dig into the history of movements fighting for Earth’s health. Learn about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests or how acid rain impacts forests and lakes. Study how environmental justice seeks fairness for all communities.

Your research guides you to make smarter choices in your career as an activist or scientist. It also helps when talking with lawmakers or teaching others about protecting nature.


Get your hands dirty and volunteer to protect the environment. Volunteering gives you real-world experience. You can join clean-up crews, plant trees, or work with animals. This helps you learn what environmentalists do from day to day.

Local groups always need help with their projects. Find a cause that excites you and dive in. Volunteering could lead to a job or help you decide on a career path in environmentalism.

Now, think about joining an organization where your passion for the environment can grow even more.

The Bottom Line

Being an environmentalist means you care for the Earth and work hard to protect it. You might test soil, fight for new laws, or teach people how to live greener lives. Some of you will choose careers like air quality engineers or conservationists.

Study hard, get your degree, and dig into internships to start this journey. As an environmentalist, imagine making a real difference in clean air and safe water! Will you join the ranks of youth activists like Vanessa Nakate? Dare to be the change our planet needs today!

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