The eighth Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders cohort, affectionately self-named Crash 8, successfully concluded on December 10th, 2021, after an unconventional EWCL experience. The 2019-2021 EWCL class was comprised of twenty-five up-and-coming leaders in the wildlife conservation field from organizations in the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The cohort was selected from a highly competitive pool of over 100 applicants.
The EWCL program provided the cohort with in-person and virtual trainings and mentoring, and the applied development, implementation, and evaluation of a group conservation project. The class began the program as expected with a week-long training in the spring of 2019, but before a second in-person training was possible the COVID-19 pandemic put the world in lockdown. This resulted in the cancellation of in-person EWCL trainings and major modifications to the cohort’s conservation project plans. Though not in person, participants enthusiastically engaged in virtual training and mentoring sessions, and networking gatherings via Zoom. They pivoted their conservation campaigns expertly and successfully created meaningful impacts within the new world limitations. Virtual offerings opened new opportunities for training sessions and mentoring. Each participant was paired with at least six EWCL Board and Alumni mentors through the duration of the program