2011-2012 CLASS




“This program has been key to positive career changes that have occurred during the past one and a half years. Thank you!” Class IV participant

The fourth class of twenty-two Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) graduated successfully on December, 2012. 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.

EWCL IV’s class included four international participants, who were able to attend thanks to financial sponsorship of several organizations. Two of the international participants – Nadia Mijidorj from Mongolia and Zegeye Kibret from Ethiopia – were supported by the Wildlife Conservation Network. A third participant, Cristina Tofoli from Brazil, was funded through World Wildlife Fund for Nature’s Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program. The fourth international student was Bradford Latham from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, who was supported by the USFWS Division of Latin American & the Caribbean. The domestic participants represented 14 different non-profit conservation organizations, one state wildlife agency, two federal wildlife divisions, and one university wildlife program.

EWCL Board members and participants chose numerous 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:

  • In-depth 360-review of each participants’ leadership strengths and weaknesses
  • Professional mission statements and goal setting
  • Leadership skills and work-life balance
  • Successful campaigning skills
  • Communications and messaging strategies
  • Planning tools for advocacy campaigns
  • Adaptive management techniques
  • International biodiversity funding opportunities
  • Coordinated organizational response models
  • On-camera media training
  • Tools for dealing with workplace conflict
  • Cross cultural and diversity training
  • Using media to promote conservation programs
  • Crucial conversation skills
  • Conservation literature and publications
  • Maximizing partnerships
  • The role of advocacy
  • Conducting international conservation work
  • Strategic process
  • Public speaking
  • Professional networking
  • Climate change
  • Fundraising
  • Team processes and facilitation
  • ESA and domestic wildlife legislation
  • Lessons in leadership and management
  • Human-wildlife conflict case studies
  • Evaluating conservation programs
  • Zoos and conservation partnerships
  • Strategic planning
  • Authenticity in front of and behind the camera

At the closing Washington D.C. session in December 2012, the EWCL Board of Directors and World Wildlife Fund 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, more than 60 guests from the community were able to meet the up-and-coming conservationists and learn about EWCL. Feedback from those attending the luncheon was overwhelmingly 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 conservation organizations to work on the following issues:

  • Curbing the unsustainable trade in slow lorises coming from Southeast Asia to meet Western exotic pet demand;
  • Lessening conflict between pastoralists and African lions in Eastern Kenya through education and community-based citizen-science initiatives;
  • Addressing the over-exploitation of radiated tortoises in Madagascar through education and outreach; and
  • Developing guidelines to reform current bat guano mining practices that disturb roosting bat colonies.

In addition to the skills and leadership training received by 22 early career professionals, this EWCL class directly raised $33,811 for conservation, and nearly equal that in in-kind support for wildlife programs.

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 supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Division of Refuges, Wildlife Conservation Network, and the White Oak Conservation Center-Howard Gilman Foundation. Additional support was provided by World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and National Audubon Society. In-kind support was 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.

Feedback from the class from the four anonymous surveys conducted directly after the trainings was incredibly positive, including the following quotes:

  • “There is a great change in both my life and increased inspiration for wildlife conservation. I hope I will be a great leader. Thanks for EWCL!” Class IV international participant
  • “Very well developed training, especially for professional skills that aren’t covered in job or academic training.” Class IV participant
  • “EWCL is building an incredible network of conservation professionals all over the world. I’m humbled to be part of this group.” Class IV participant
  • “The group project is really key to giving me a chance to practice the skills we talked about during the training.” Class IV participant

Detailed survey analysis, class project final reports, and a list of participants from EWCL Class 4 follow.

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 (202-772-0237).