Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders

Class of 2009/2010

The third class of twenty-one Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) graduated successfully in December, 2010. By doing so, they completed a two-year course designed to provide interdisciplinary training in leadership skills and conservation campaigning, offer mentoring and networking opportunities, and enable participants to design, implement, and evaluate conservation projects that assist in the conservation of an imperiled species.

During the two-year course, the EWCL participants met three times – twice for week-long training courses at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida, and once in Washington, D.C. for further training, and final project presentation and evaluation sessions.

The third EWCL class included three international participants. The first two – Lara Heidel from Argentina’s Andean Cat Project and Wildlife Conservation Society, and David Daballen from Kenya’s Save the Elephant Fund – were able to participate in the course through scholarships provided by the Wildlife Conservation Network. The third international participant – Natalia Torres from Brazil’s Jaguar Conservation Fund – was given support to attend the course by the Houston Zoo.

EWCL Board members and participants chose over thirty training topics as priority knowledge and skills to be addressed in the three sessions by specialists in the leadership and conservation fields. These trainings, activities and lectures included:

  • An Introduction to Leadership
  • Strategies for Successful Campaigns
  • Team Building
  • Enhancing Crucial Conversation Skills
  • Fundraising and Development
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Lessons in International Conservation
  • Future of International Conservation
  • Evaluation and Adaptive Management
  • Planning for Education and Marketing in Conservation
  • US International Biodiversity Federal Budget
  • Dealing with Conflict in a Professional Setting
  • Media Readiness Training

  • Personal mission statements and goal setting
  • Human dimensions of wildlife conservation
  • Leadership
  • An exercise on public speaking
  • Understanding teams and the role of the facilitator
  • Partnerships
  • An exercise in current professional literature and periodicals
  • Work-life balance
  • Advocacy
  • Professional networking
  • Nexus between science and policy
  • Getting published
  • Fundraising

Additionally, participants were treated to special guest lecturers including Dr. Karen Eckert, Executive Director of WIDECAST, who delivered an inspiring lecture on sea turtle conservation in the Caribbean, and Dr. Anne Savage, Conservation Biologist at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, who discussed international conservation and community-development initiatives in Colombia benefitting the critically endangered cotton-top tamarins. The group was also given presentations on complimentary leadership and grant programs in the field, including National Audubon Society’s “Together Green” Initiative, the Yale-Smithsonian Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative, and World Wildlife Fund’s Education for Nature Program.

At the closing Washington D.C. session in December 2010, the EWCL Board of Directors hosted a luncheon for participants, Board Members and current leaders and peers in the wildlife conservation community who represented a wide array of expertise from the NGO, private and government sectors. At this gathering, over thirty guests from the community were able to meet the up-and-coming conservationists and learn about EWCL. Feedback from those attending the luncheon was very positive, both in terms of inspiration from the EWCL leaders, and in appreciation of the EWCL class and all it offers new leaders in the conservation field.

Additional participant opportunities for networking and mentoring over the course of the two-year class were made possible by numerous scheduled –as well as informal– one-on-one mentoring sessions with EWCL Board of Directors members and EWCL Alumni Group members, who offered advice and guidance to participants on how to strategically move forward with their careers and plan for the future as wildlife conservationist leaders.

In addition to the training workshops, another major component of the program was the participants’ design, and implementation and evaluation of an international wildlife conservation campaign. EWCL participants partnered directly with NGOs (World Wildlife Fund, IUCN Tapir Specialist Group, Program for Belize, and Proyecto Titi) to create international wildlife conservation campaigns on a number of priority species. Campaigns were designed to target four species and issues: (1) incidental killing of the rare saola ox in Vietnam; (2) marketing of eco-mochila bags in the US to benefit cotton-top tamarin conservation community cooperatives in Colombia; (3) raising financial support and providing education materials for endangered yellow-headed parrots in Belize; and (4) producing press kits and education materials covering the four surviving species of tapirs, found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America.

In addition to the skills and leadership training received by 21 early career professionals, this EWCL class resulted in several concrete conservation actions. These four EWCL groups created two new species conservation websites (savetheparrots.org and savethe saola.org), facilitated two international training workshops, one in Vietnam and one in Belize, that helped build capacity among local conservationists and wildlife managers, produced a 50 page press kit on tapirs that was distributed to nearly 50 media outlets and 200 conservation colleagues, developed two unique species videos now being shown on YouTube, and developed numerous educational materials distributed at schools, public events and on the Internet. Additionally, EWCL groups raised more than $11,500 in In-kind support for wildlife programs in Belize, Vietnam and Columbia.

Success of the EWCL initiative has been demonstrated by the increased scale and impact of group projects, and also marked by partner testimonials of praise, detailed evaluations after each training session, as well as a survey between sessions, numerous project calls and updates. Also, indicators of success have been collected from EWCL graduates, including numerous professional accomplishments attributed to EWCL training, networking and project experiences.

EWCL is a unique collaborative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Network, and the Howard Gilman Foundation. International participant sponsorship was provided by Houston Zoo. Additional in-kind support is provided by Defenders of Wildlife, Bat Conservation International, and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The mission of EWCL is to facilitate cross-organizational networking for emerging environmental leaders while conducting training and guiding concrete innovative conservation projects on a bi-annual basis. Wildlife conservation benefits from the nurturing of future leaders, information sharing and idea exchange amongst conservation entities, and the tangible conservation products generated as part of the group campaign exercise.

If you have any questions about this initiative, or would like more detailed information about training sessions, group projects, class participants, or other aspects of EWCL, please contact EWCL Board of Directors Co-Chairs Jeff Flocken (202-536-1904) or Nina Fascione (512-809-9847).