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:
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).
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