About Emily Y. Horton
Emily’s goal is to celebrate and explore Earth’s biological and cultural diversity. She is especially interested in exploring the application of multimedia tools including photography, film, writing, music, and design for conservation and educational purposes.
In 2008, she published her first conservation photography book, Saving San Rafael, in collaboration with the non-profit Association “Guyra” Paraguay. In 2010, Guyra and Emily published their second book and first short-documentary together, Gran Pantanal Paraguay, aimed at conserving the Pantanal, the planet’s largest freshwater wetland. Also in 2010, she worked on a third publication and audiovisual to raise international awareness about one of the most extreme and unique environments on Earth: the Dry Chaco in Paraguay. Creating these educational materials is a dream come true for Emily and she hopes to continue publishing the rest of her life.
Emily was born in the small rural town of Greenbrier, Alabama in 1981. As she wandered the countryside in search of critters and twinkling fireflies on warm August nights, a small seed was planted. Like the mighty oak, it grew into an uncontainable passion for the natural world.
She studied at the University of South Alabama where she began exploring environmental and conservation issues through photography, film, and writing. During college Emily held various positions related to her interests including as a photo editor for the Vanguard newspaper, biology/chemistry research assistant, and freelance photographer/writer. After graduating with a degree incorporating environmental science, communications, Spanish, and Latin American studies, she served as an environmental education volunteer in Eastern Paraguay with the Peace Corps.
As a volunteer, Emily lived for two years in a rural agricultural village bordering the conflictive San Rafael Reserve. During this time she learned of the reserve’s importance as one of the largest remnants of Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest in Paraguay. In addition to making precious friends, Horton collaborated with families, schools, municipalities and environmental organizations to raise socioeconomic conditions and awareness about the San Rafael Reserve.
By the time Emily had completed her Peace Corps service, she had fallen in love with Paraguay’s ecosystems and people and developed a philosophy that sought to integrate biodiversity conservation and sociocultural elements. She decided to combine this newfound love for the Paraguayan people and ecosystems with her passion for conservation photography and writing.
In March of 2007, Emily submitted a photo-documentary book proposal to Guyra Paraguay, a leading environmental organization in Paraguay. The proposal was accepted and she spent the next five months collecting photographs, interviews and research to produce Saving San Rafael. The book, written in English and Spanish, was published in 2008 and aims to conserve and raise national and international awareness about the San Rafael area.
In 2009, Emily worked with a group of photographers in Alabama to form the Conservation Photographers of Alabama whose mission is to lead and promote the conservation of Alabama’s natural and cultural resources through the application of photography and other media. The CPA is a project of the Watershed Identity Foundation, a non-profit established by Alabama’s renowned conservation photographer Beth Maynor Young.
In May of 2010, Emily and Guyra Paraguay published their second bilingual photography book and first short-documentary together which aim to conserve the Pantanal, Earth’s largest freshwater wetland. Gran Pantanal, Paraguay focuses on Paraguay’s unique portion of Pantanal and is available for purchase online through NHBS. The publication is being distributed to local, national, and international stakeholders to share the importance and beauty of this region with Paraguayans and the world.
In November of 2010, Emily had a serious automobile accident while working on a third conservation photography book and documentary on the Dry Chaco of Paraguay. She and the two other colleagues involved were lucky, suffering little trauma. Despite flying through the windshield, Emily survived with only broken bones and a dislocated hip. Family and friends in Paraguay and the United States showed boundless love and support. Thanks to the Peace Corps in Paraguay, Guyra Paraguay, the U.S. Embassy, and many others, Emily was blessed and lucky to get great medical care and quickly recover.
Emily recently began studies at the University of Georgia where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Integrative Conservation and Anthropology. Through the program she aims to receive training that will prepare her to lead in the conservation field using an anthropological lens and cross-disciplinary techniques. Academically, she is interested in exploring the processes, at varying scales, associated with the loss and conservation of biological and cultural diversity using digital multimedia tools to document and disseminate findings. In what little free time she has, Emily enjoys throwing pottery, enjoying nature, staring at fires, playing guitar, and gardening. She also does her best to support the Alabama based non-profits Friends of Big Canoe Creek, Coosa Riverkeeper, and the Conservation Photographers of Alabama.
Countless individuals, organizations, and experiences have positively shaped and continue to support Emily as she pursues her dreams. She is extremely grateful for all of life’s blessings and the souls which grace this strange, beautiful, human experience.