Four things to know about Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, the first Black woman to host a wildlife show on US television

BY Preta Peace Namasaba December 28, 2023 10:42 AM EDT
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant in the wilderness.
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant. Photo Credit: Twitter

In a groundbreaking move, Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant has taken the helm as the new co-host of NBC’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, a show dedicated to showcasing wildlife success stories across the United States. Notably, Wynn-Grant has etched her name in history as the first Black woman to host a wildlife program on broadcast television.

Here are four key insights into the world of this award-winning science communicator who is not only unraveling the mysteries of nature but also championing diversity in STEM knowledge production.

1. From TV Screens to Wilderness Adventures

Born and raised in California, Wynn-Grant’s childhood was shaped by strict parental guidelines that limited her TV choices to educational content. However, this restriction sparked her love for nature, particularly through wildlife documentaries, setting the stage for a career that would take her across all continents and to more than 25 countries. In her own words, “nature shows on TV were my jam, they were my all-time favorite thing.”

2. Kenya: A Turning Point for a Young Scientist

Navigating the challenges of being the only Black student in her environmental science program at Emory University, Wynn-Grant found her passion rekindled during a transformative study abroad program in Kenya. This wildlife management trip provided her with a firsthand encounter with ecology, wildlife conservation, and the chance to witness wild animals in their natural habitats. Today, she stands as an expert in large carnivores, with a focus on bears and lions.

3. Scholarly Achievements and Expertise

Beyond her role as a TV host, Wynn-Grant boasts an impressive academic background. Holding a master’s in Environmental Studies from Yale University and a doctorate in Ecology and Evolution from Columbia University, she is affiliated with esteemed institutions such as the National Geographic Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and holds teaching positions at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University. Her extensive portfolio includes numerous publications and papers on wildlife conservation.

4. A Trailblazer for Diversity in STEM Education

In a departure from traditional wildlife hosts, Wynn-Grant brings a social justice perspective to her role. Passionate about science communication, she aims to utilize her media exposure to amplify the voices of Black scientists and explorers. Her appointment is seen as a significant step towards inclusivity within the conservation community. Wynn-Grant envisions inspiring future generations as she was inspired as a child, viewing her path as a form of social justice, creating opportunities for children of color in America to explore STEM education and professions.

As she takes the reins of Wild Kingdom, Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is not just narrating wildlife tales; she’s rewriting the narrative of who gets to tell them.