Future Conservation Leaders

The Future Conservation Leaders scheme is a bespoke programme of workshops, training and international travel that will offer students the chance to increase their vocational experience in order to complement formal academic qualifications.  We plan to launch the scheme in early 2019.

Participants in the project

The three year programme is aimed at, but not limited to, 18-21 year-olds in the UK and The Gambia. It will provide an opportunity for participants to complement academic study with practical experience, and to act as a stepping-stone for Gambian students between school and university. Many Gambian students are from poor rural areas and unable to afford university tuition fees. The programme will provide a means to identify young people with the necessary motivation, aptitude and ability to qualify for further Osprey Leadership Foundation university bursaries and support.

Cohorts

The project will operate simultaneously in the UK and The Gambia, allowing links between groups to be established from the outset. Cohorts of 20 young people will be established in each country and will run for a period of three years. The first cohort will provide a means to test programme material and to gather feedback. In time a rolling programme of recruitment for further cohorts will allow greater numbers of young conservationists to benefit from the training and networking opportunities. If you are interested in applying for the programme, please get in touch.

Reciprocal visits

A unique aspect of the programme is that it will involve young conservationists from opposite ends of the Osprey migration flyway. Reciprocal visits to the UK and The Gambia will form a key element and participants will work together to devise a fundraising plan to contribute to the cost. They will also devise itineraries, and help to lead the trip when the visiting group are present. The visit to The Gambia for UK participants will take place in early January of year three, while the visit for Gambian students to the UK will be run in July of year three and each will involve a mixture of birdwatching and cultural activities. Planning for the trip will begin during year one.

Workshops and training events

The core element of the project will be a programme of 18 day-long workshops that will be held in both the UK and The Gambia. The workshops will aim to equip the young conservationists with a broad range of experiences within the conservation sector as well as valuable networking opportunities. The content and nature of workshops will vary between the UK and The Gambia but they will cover the same core themes and will be held on corresponding dates to encourage link-ups and shared work.

Core themes are:

  • Practical conservation skills
  • Natural history skills training
  • Wildlife surveying and monitoring
  • Communications and public speaking
  • Leadership skills
  • Eco-tourism

Peer support

Workshops will form the main focus of activities, but peer support and communication will be encouraged from the outset. A Facebook group will be set-up to allow participants to easily communicate with each other to help plan fundraising activities and the reciprocal visits. Participants will also contribute to a blog to describe their experiences throughout the programme.

Outcomes – 2022 vision

By the end of the final year of the programme, participants in the UK and The Gambia will have:

  • Gained experience in practical conservation
  • Improved bird ID and general natural history skills
  • Knowledge of wildlife survey techniques
  • Improved public speaking and communication skills
  • Gained experience of fundraising
  • Undertaken bespoke leadership training
  • Have an extensive network of contacts within the conservation and ecotourism sector
  • Made meaningful and valuable links with like-minded young conservationists

We think that the skills, experience and networks developed during the programme will produced a group of highly motivated, like-minded individuals who are determined to make a positive difference to nature conservation. The programme will also help to identify individuals who would benefit from further support.

Funding required

£39,500 is required to cover the costs of setting up the programme and running it for a complete three year cycle on a pilot basis between 2018 and 2021. We will be applying to grant funding bodies, but if you are interested in sponsoring the scheme, please contact us or donate here.

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