January 2015


The fifth class of twenty-two Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) graduated successfully in December, 2014. 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, once at the Houston Zoo in Houston, Texas , once 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 class V included 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 were able to attend thanks to financial support from several organizations. Two of the international participants – Onkuri Majumdar from Thailand, and Enzo Aliaga Rossel from Bolivia, were funded through World Wildlife Fund Education for Nature Professional Development Grants. The other two participants – Peter Lalampaa and Jerenimo Lepirei, both from Kenya, were funded through the Wildlife Conservation Network. The EWCL Class V participants were chosen from a pool of over 100 qualified applicants.

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
  • Wildlife Conservation Leadership Lessons and Examples
  • Fundraising Basics
  • Teamwork Dynamics
  • Successful Conservation Campaigning Strategies
  • Key Concepts in Climate Change Adaptation
  • Species Vulnerability and Techniques for Mitigating Threats
  • Planning and Evaluating Conservation Impacts
  • Developing and Managing Partnerships
  • Strengths Finder Management Theory
  • Building Leadership Skills
  • Time Management Practices
  • Community Management and Adaptation Techniques for Climate Change
  • Current Climate Change and Wildlife Conservation Policy Initiatives
  • Tools for dealing with Professional and Workplace Conflict
  • Shared Visions for Leadership
  • The Power of Professional Networking
  • Understanding and Overcoming Cultural Bias and Misunderstandings
  • International Conservation and Policy Response to the Wildlife Trade Crisis
  • On-camera Media Training
  • Benefits and Drawbacks to Problem Solving with Group Dynamics
  • Building and Engaging a Professional Network
  • Developing Strategic Professional Partnerships
  • Dealing with Difficult Dynamics in Facilitation and Strategic Problem Solving
  • Effective Grant Writing for Foundations
  • Developing and Refining Presentation Skills
  • Effective Techniques for Partnering with Government Entities and Officials
  • Strategies for Successful Crucial Conversations in Professional Settings
  • Integrating Education into Conservation Campaigns
  • Insights and Impediments to Conducting Successful International Conservation Projects
  • Experiences in Publishing
  • Organizational Ambassador Training for Development Purposes
  • Multinational Environmental Institutions
  • Advocacy Skills Training
  • Understanding the Endangered Species Act
  • Presentation Skills
  • Working with Celebrities
  • Spitfire Strategies Presentation on Successful Social Marketing
  • Using Photography in Conservation Work

At the closing Washington D.C. session in December 2014, 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, guests from the community were able to meet the up-and-coming conservationists and learn about EWCL.

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. Additionally, all interested participants were partnered with a member of the EWCL Alumni Advisory Group to offer career and project mentoring advice throughout the two year program.

In addition to the training workshops, another major component of the program was the participants’ design, implementation and evaluation of an international wildlife conservation campaign. EWCL participants partnered directly with conservation organizations to work on the following issues:

  • Lessening the incidence of African painted dogs being hit by cars or killed in snares through the design of reflective collars that allow the dogs to be more visible and escape snares.
  • Addressing the issues of Indian turtles being unintentionally caught by fishermen by redesigning nets that simultaneously allow for turtles to exit and fishermen to maintain their livelihoods.
  • Developing educational camps to bring awareness to communities living in the midst of conflict with snow leopards and livestock management practices in Nepal.
  • Creating media and educational materials to increase awareness about the giant armadillo and distributing them through partnerships with Brazilian zoo and international networks.

In addition to the skills and leadership training received by 22 early career professionals, this EWCL class directly raised $27,506 for conservation, and $6,995 of additional in-kind support for these wildlife programs.

Success of EWCL Class 5 and the overall EWCL initiative has been gauged through various means including the increased scale and impact of group projects and detailed evaluations after each training session, as well as a survey between sessions and at the end of the course. 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 National Wildlife Refuge System, Houston Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Network, and White Oak. Additional support was provided by World Wildlife Fund, SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. In-kind support was provided by Defenders of Wildlife 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 anonymous surveys conducted directly after the trainings was incredibly positive, including the following quotes:

  • “Not only did I gain exceptional experience from the project, knowledge from the coursework, friends and colleagues and an enormous supportive network, but I also learned a ton about myself and confidence in what I am capable of accomplishing.  I really don’t know if I could have made such strides in my personal growth without the EWCL experience.” Class 5 participant
  • “Creates relationships with like-minded people, gives a network of support and introduces you to areas of conservation that you may not have known existed!” Class 5 participant
  • “I think the materials and presentations were great and really complement the objectives of the class.” Class 5 participant
  • “I had almost no expectations going into this and was totally blown away. I already feel SO inspired and see a different path forward professionally than I did last week. The other participants are incredible and the feeling of community really amazes me.” Class 5 participant

Detailed survey analysis, class project final reports, and a list of participants from EWCL Class 5 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).