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The Tommy Schultz Impact Media Fellowship is Raising the Next Generation of Conservation Storytellers

LAMAVE, a Philippines-based marine conservation NGO, launches a photography competition and fellowship program to get more young people involved in conservation storytelling.

Story by
Team GRID

While many sea creatures remain a mystery, the state of their home is even more so. With so much more still to know and discover about the ocean, current conservation efforts must be sustained by a new generation of marine advocates.

The Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE) is a Philippine non-profit non-government organization cultivating an awareness of these issues through impact media — creative work that captures environmental challenges around the Philippine Seas and prompts action in protecting marine wildlife from present and future stakeholders.

Previous impact media work by LAMAVE includes briefing videos on the management of protected areas, campaigns on sustainable marine wildlife tourism, and most recently a documentary on behavior change models to promote the protection of sharks and rays in Palawan. With research sites across the country, LAMAVE uses science, education, and collaboration with local communities and governments to help safeguard the future of whale sharks, sharks, rays, sea turtles, among many others in Southeast Asia.


But there is much more to be done to sustain their efforts. On August 29, LAMAVE launched a photography competition and fellowship program designed to cultivate the next marine conservation advocates in the Philippines.

“We’re very excited to be able to widen the scope of our work by getting more young Filipinos involved and providing the future generation of conservation storytellers with practical skills whose impact can be properly measured,” says Sally Snow, Communications Director for LAMAVE. “Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool and when paired with calls to action, we can measure the impact of the work, helping to know what works and what doesn’t, and pathing the way for real conservation action on the ground.”

The Tommy Schultz Impact Media Fellowship (TSIMF) is a unique program for early-career creatives focused on conservation storytelling in the Philippines, and those looking to refine their skills in impact media. The program supports their professional development through a three-month placement with LAMAVE, wherein fellows will receive training and mentorship on the following areas in the field of conservation and communication: creatively tackling conservation challenges; recognizing and reaching key audiences; and identifying measurable impacts of their creative work.


The fellowship is open to different creatives from the Philippines, primarily filmmakers and photographers. Its key focus is to produce an output that contributes to conservation actions with measurable impact.

The TSIMF is in memory of the late photographer Tommy Schultz, who spent several years living in the Philippines as a US Peace Corps volunteer. Much of his photography, videography, and travel writing focused on capturing the beauty of wildlife and imbuing adventure with a sense of mission to preserve the environment for future generations. Tommy Schultz passed away in June 2021 at the age of 45. The fellowship fund initiated by his family is part of Tommy’s legacy and will continue to grow through the inaugural Tommy Schultz Travel and Adventure Photography Prize.

The photography competition will open on September 29 and its mechanics will be made available on their website on the opening date. Applications for the fellowship program will open in early 2023, click here to learn more.

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ERRATUM: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Tommy Schultz passed at the age of 43.

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