The second class of 20 Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) graduated successfully in December, 2008.  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, project refinement actions, and final project presentation sessions.

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
  • Public Speaking Techniques
  • Team Building
  • Strategic Advocacy
  • Planning for Education and Marketing
  • Environmental literature
  • Building International Campaigns
  • Integrating Media into Campaigns
  • Communications Strategic Planning
  • Adaptive Management
  • U.S. Legislative Process
  • Role of Social Sciences in Conservation
  • Fundraising Skills
  • Enhancing Crucial Communication Skills

  • Corporate Partnerships
  • Maintaining Work/Life Balance
  • Negotiation
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Environmental literature
  • Collaboration and Working in Coalitions
  • Managing Staff and Volunteers
  • Networking Tools
  • Project Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Land Conservation
  • International Law and Foreign Assistance
  • Maintaining Optimism
  • Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace

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 Steve Shurter, Director of International Programs for Gilman International Conservation who discussed the challenges and successes of Okapi conservation measures in the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the closing Washington D.C. session in December 2008, the EWCL Board of Directors hosted a luncheon 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 this gathering, current leaders were able to meet the up-and-coming conservationists and share personal advice and secrets of success in the wildlife conservation field. Feedback from those attending the luncheon indicated that the event was motivating for both the class participants as well as the established leaders.

Additional participant opportunities for networking and mentoring were made possible by numerous 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 (Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Amphibian Ark, and Gilman International Conservation) to create international wildlife conservation campaigns on a number of priority species. Campaigns were designed to target four species and issues: (1) illegal trade of the Malayan pangolin in Cambodia; (2) community awareness of okapi conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo; (3) jaguar habitat conservation in Mexico; and (4) protection of the Large-crested toad from the threat of extinction in Mexico.

As a result of the four EWCL led group projects, nearly $53,000 was raised in cash for species conservation, with more than $300,000 leveraged in in-kind contributions and complementary partnership funding, more than 136,000 quality conservation education materials distributed, 35,000 acres of habitat was purchased,  two new species conservation websites created reaching an audience of more than 381,000 people (and growing), and two EWCL led domestic and international training workshops conducted where 115 participants were imparted with knowledge and skills to benefit conservation.

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.  Additional in-kind support is provided by Defenders of Wildlife and International Fund for Animal Welfare.  All EWCL funders have offered to support the project for a third class in 2009-2010. The new class will gather for their first training session at White Oak in late March 2009, when they will also select topics of their two-year conservation projects.

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 (202-772-3205).