Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL)

2013-2014 EWCL Class Picture
2013-2014 EWCL Class Picture

The first training session of the fifth class of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) took place April 1st through April 5th, 2013 at the Houston Zoo in Texas. 

The 2013/2014 EWCL class includes twenty-two impressive up-and-coming leaders in the wildlife conservation field, with representatives from the not-for-profit sector, private businesses, and government agencies. In addition to seventeen professionals from U.S.-based international organizations, five conservationists from local groups in Kenya, Bolivia and Thailand filled out the course.  The participants were chosen from a pool of over 100 qualified applicants, and will take part in the two-year program comprised of three in-person trainings and hands-on group conservation projects that happen throughout the two years.

For the first training, participants gathered at the Houston Zoo for four days of intensive skills and leadership sessions, team building and personal growth exercises, and mentoring and guidance on their professional careers.  Priority objectives for this session included providing participants with training in core leadership and campaigning skills, and introducing the emerging issue of climate change as it relates to wildlife conservation and adaptation strategies.

Session topics included: 

  • Wildlife Conservation Leadership Lessons and Examples
  • Fundraising Basics
  • Teamwork Dynamics
  • Successful Conservation Campaigning Strategies
  • Key Concepts in Climate Change Adaptation
  • Species Vulnerability and Techniques for Mitigating Threats
  • Planning and Evaluating Conservation Impacts
  • Developing and Managing Partnerships
  • Strengths Finder Management Theory
  • Building Leadership Skills
  • Time Management Practices
  • Community Management and Adaptation Techniques for Climate Change
  • Current Climate Change and Wildlife Conservation Policy Initiatives
  • Tools for dealing with Professional and Workplace Conflict
  • Shared Visions for Leadership

The class also divided into four groups and selected four imperiled species campaigns for which they will create, implement and evaluate on-the-ground projects in order to address an identified threat to the species’ existence.  These group projects will take place over the next two years and will allow the participants to use skills acquired through the EWCL trainings, and under the guidance of established conservation professionals, in order to contribute to vital wildlife initiatives.  The species that will be helped by this current EWCL class are African painted dogs, imperiled freshwater turtles of India, snow leopards, and giant armadillos.                    

In addition to the leadership and campaign training, and project selection and planning, the participants were encouraged to strategize on their career trajectory and opportunities for professional growth under the guidance of current leaders in the conservation field.  This was accomplished through one-on-one mentoring opportunities – each participant had two mentoring sessions with two different EWCL Board Members, speakers or visiting alumni.  All participants also participated in a 360-degree leadership survey – acquiring feedback from eight-to-sixteen colleagues prior to the training -- the results of which were analyzed and discussed in a session with experienced EWCL trainers.

Over the next two years, the participants will continue to work on their conservation projects, come together again for two more training sessions, and continue to explore opportunities for professional networking and career growth.  This year for the first time, participants have also all been given the opportunity to have a personal mentor assigned to them from the EWCL alumni group. This mentor will provide professional guidance to them over the duration of the course.

EWCL is a collaborative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of International Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Network, International Fund for Animal Welfare, U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Refuges Division, Houston Zoo, Defenders of wildlife, and White Oak.  Additionally it receives support from World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.  It is designed to build capacity for global wildlife conservation within existing conservation organizations and entities.  This is accomplished by providing training in leadership and campaigning skills, offering networking and mentoring opportunities, and facilitating tangible on-the-ground conservation projects that benefit imperiled wildlife.

If you have any questions about this initiative, contact EWCL Board Co-chairs Jeff Flocken (202-536-1904) or Nina Fascione (202-772-0237).


We are pleased to announce the 2013-2014 Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders Class. We had an incredibly competitive selection process this year, with nearly 100 qualified candidates for 22 slots, so we anticipate great things from the class that was selected. 

Thanks to everyone who recommended applicants and encouraged colleagues to apply. We’re sorry if someone you suggested was not selected - it was the most competitive and difficult selection process yet.  However, we ended up with a very diverse and exciting group.  And due to the generosity of Wildlife Conservation Network and the World Wildlife Fund Environment for Nature program, we were able to offer spots in the class to two conservationists from Kenya, one from Thailand, and one from Bolivia.

Our newest partner, the Houston Zoo, has offered to host the first training for this class, which will be from April 1st through 5th, 2013.  Other returning partners include US Fish & Wildlife Services Division of International Conservation and National Wildlife Refuges, White Oak, Defenders of Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society and International Fund for Animal Welfare.  Additionally, we have received seed money from Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for this group’s Class Projects.

We are also excited to announce that we will be getting some much needed help and new ideas for this class from Dave Mizejewski and Amielle DeWan, EWCL Alumni and Board Members who will be the Training Directors for this EWCL class.


Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fundraising effort - we are pleased to announce that EWCL will be be able to select its 5th class of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders!

Recruiting applicants for our next class will begin soon and our next class will be selected in early December. Please stay tuned for the call for applicants come early October.

Also taking place in early December will be the final meeting of EWCL Class #4. During our convening participants will report out on the progress of their conservation projects, lessons learned and the potential for continuing their work as EWCL Alumni. Updates on Class #4 projects will posted to our website http://wildlifeleaders.org/

In other big orgnizational news, Heather Eves will be transition off the EWCL board in order to bring her skills and energy to the recently launched EWCL Caribbean Program. As Heather makes her transition we are excited to welcome EWCL Alumnus Amielle DeWan to the board.

Thank you again for your continued support of EWCL and making Class #5 a reality!!!


“EWCL has exceeded my expectations. I love the network, the board and the trainings.  I love the design and the process. Having the ability to work on a real project has truly allowed me to apply the skills I’m developing in a way that will stick.”


“I have loved the program, my teammates, the trainings and the mentors I’ve gained through this experience.  I’ve learned so much and I look forward to staying involved in the future.”


“EWCL is a life-changing event.  I have become more confident with my role in the conservation world.  The networking aspect is phenomenal.  All of the information is useful.”


“The contact with young conservationists, EWCL members and speakers was a wonderful opportunity for professional and personal growth. The topics presented gave me a lot of new information and also made me think about new issues.  It was also a great opportunity to increase my networking and to possibly do new partnerships!”


These are just some of the statements from participants in the second training of the 2011/2012 Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) class, held March 19-22, 2012 at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida.  EWCL is a collaborative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Conservation Network, International Fund for Animal Welfare and the White Oak Conservation Center, designed to build capacity for wildlife conservation within existing conservation organizations and entities. This is accomplished by providing training in leadership and campaign skills, offering networking and mentoring opportunities, and facilitating tangible, on-the-ground conservation projects that benefit imperiled wildlife.


The 2011/2012 EWCL class is comprised of 22 carefully selected up-and-coming leaders in the wildlife conservation field. Class members include individuals from a wide variety of not-for-profit, private, and government groups, as well as four international participants. This group gathered at White Oak for their second training -- three days of intensive skills and leadership workshops, along with mentoring and discussions about their professional growth and career direction. 


The training included formal lectures, discussions, and exercises taught by EWCL board members, all seasoned wildlife conservation professionals, as well as one EWCL alumni who shared her expertise on using media to maximize conservation impact.


Session topics included: 

  • Cross cultural and diversity training
  • Using media to promote conservation programs
  • Crucial conversation skills
  • Maximizing partnerships
  • The role of advocacy
  • Conducting international conservation work
  • Strategic process
  • Public speaking
  • Professional networking
  • Climate change


In addition, the four conservation project groups gave updates on their efforts and activities to date, including their accomplishments, remaining goals, fundraising, partnerships status, timeline, and evaluation plans. All four projects continue to move forward nicely, with successful fundraising and on-the-ground activities.  The four projects are:


  • Writing and promoting vital guidelines for sustainable guano harvesting to protect bat populations in Southeast Asia, while providing economic benefits to local communities;
  • Developing husbandry training workshops, educational materials, and communications outreach materials to protect imperiled radiated tortoises in Madagascar;
  • Creating a website and locally-lead citizen science project to identify and protect lions in northern Kenya; and
  • Providing training for law enforcement officers in Thailand to fight the illegal and damaging exotic pet trade in slow lorises.


In addition to the trainings, experiential activities and project discussions and planning, each participant was given a 45 minute, one-on-one mentoring session with a board member or other visiting conservation professional.  These sessions are carefully designed to pair participant interest with the appropriate mentor, and sessions focus on where participants hope to be in five, ten and fifteen years in their careers and lives, as well as what steps they are or could be taking to ensure reaching these goals.


The next, and final, training for this class will take place in Washington, DC on December 5th and 6th, 2012.  There will be a 90-minute presentation by the participants on their conservation projects for EWCL sponsors, alumni and other colleagues on December 5th (mid-day), so please save the date. We will notify you of the specific time and location in the fall.  


If you have any questions about the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program, please contact EWCL Board Co-chairs Jeff Flocken (703-536-1904) or Nina Fascione (512-809-9847).


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Project Leader

Errol Mazursky

Executive Director
Greenbelt, MD United States

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