Deborah’s background started out with graduate studies (Masters of Science and PhD) in ecotourism, wildlife conservation, environmental education and the people/nature interface, focusing her masters (MSc) work on the issue of sea otter disturbance by recreational activities in the Monterey Bay area. After 15 years working in this field she has moved into broader areas of sustainability, nature connection, and community building with a particular interest in social enterprise. She was until recently Managing Director of the Newbold Trust a retreat and education centre for sustainable living in Scotland. Prior to this she founded and ran Wild at Heart, providing nature connection programmes, ecotourism consultancy and wildlife guide trainings. She is now the UK Director of www.8shields.org, a deep nature connection & cultural mentoring organisation. She also offers consultancy, trainings, coaching and workshop facilitation in nature connection, regenerative culture, sustainability design and youth empowerment. She is an experienced facilitator and trainer who loves to create transformative programmes and support student learning, in support of regenerative communities and healthy ecosystems.
As a product of her research in Monterey Bay, Dr. Benham created informational signage for use at marine recreation businesses. These posters have been used for over a decade by the staff of these businesses to help instruct their customers on responsible practices when paddling in sea otter habitat. Graphics from her posters are still used by Sea Otter Savvy today!
Read Dr. Benham's thesis on sea otter disturbance: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Investigating and Managing the Disturbance of Southern Sea Otters by Recreational Activities