Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders

Pilot Class: 2005/2006 Summary


The first class of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) graduated successfully in December, 2006. By doing so, they completed a two-year course designed to provide 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 internationally imperiled species.

Over the two-years of the course, the twenty EWCL participants met four times – twice for week-long training courses at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida, and twice in Washington, D.C. for further training, project refinement actions, and final project presentation sessions.

Training topics taught over the four sessions by specialists in the leadership and conservation fields included:

  • Successful Campaigning
  • Leadership Skills
  • The Biodiversity Crisis
  • Media Awareness
  • Partnering with the Private Sector
  • Strategic Education Programs
  • Managing Employees
  • Science in Conservation
  • Monitoring and Evaluating
  • Participatory Decision-Making
  • Communication/Collaboration
  • Overcoming Workplace Challenges
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Finding Professional/Personal Balance
  • Legislative Process and Initiatives
  • International Media Outlets
  • Local and International Successful Campaign Case Studies
  • Running Successful Meetings
  • Public Speaking
  • Advocacy
  • International Law
  • Fundraising

Additionally, the participants were treated to special guest lecturers including CNN International Correspondent Amos Gelb, Congo Okapi Conservation Project Officer Fran Walsh, Florida local grassroots activist Andrew Wojcicki, and U.S. Congressional Representative Jay Inslee.

At both Washington D.C. sessions, the EWCL Board of Directors hosted luncheons for participants and current leaders in the wildlife conservation community who represented a wide array of expertise from the NGO, private and government sectors. At the luncheons, the current leaders were able to meet the up-and-coming conservationists and share their own advice and secrets of success in the wildlife conservation field.

Additional participant opportunities for networking and mentoring were made possible by numerous one-on-one mentoring sessions with EWCL Board of Directors 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.

One of the course requirements was for participants to design and implement a concrete conservation project. In the first training, participants broke into four groups and determined what wildlife issue they could contribute to. All four groups chose the mutual goal of helping imperiled bears of Southeast Asia and, after extensive research on the topic, launched the following campaigns: (1) Raising money to help researchers survey sun bear populations in Indonesia and create a sun bear education center in Malaysia, while simultaneously launching a sun bear awareness campaign in the United States; (2) Partnering with the World Society for the Protection of Animals to survey U.S.-based traditional medicine practitioners on acceptable alternatives to bear bile use; (3) Working with Conservation International to draft a report on the status, trends and impact of bear bile farming on wild bear populations; and (4) Creating sun bear and sloth bear multi-disciplinary education and conservation materials to be distributed by partners in India and Cambodia. Successes from these projects included partnerships with over twenty groups, raising nearly $45,000 in cash for bear conservation, leveraging an equal amount in in-kind contributions, distributing more than 50,000 quality conservation education materials in Southeast Asia, writing two in-depth white papers, presenting papers at multiple professional conferences, and publishing an article on bear conservation in a widely distributed conservation magazine.

Success of the EWCL initiative has been marked by detailed evaluations after each training session, as well as a survey between sessions, numerous project calls and updates, and the success of the individual projects. Additionally, early indicators of success have been collected from graduates of the pilot class, including numerous professional successes attributed to EWCL training, networking and project experiences.

EWCL is a collaborative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Howard Gilman Foundation. All three original funders for EWCL have offered to support the project for a second class, with the addition of a new supporter – Wildlife Conservation Network. The EWCL class of 2007/2008 has been selected – including the addition of three international participants – and will gather for their first training session at White Oak in early April, 2007, at which time they will also select their conservation projects for the course.

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, EWCL Board Members, or other aspects of EWCL, please contact Jeff Flocken (703-358-1950) or Nina Fascione (202-772-3205).