By Leala Rosen, CLP Program Officer, Wildlife Conservation Society
In May and June 2023, the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) delivered its annual Conservation Management & Leadership workshop. This brought together our current award-winners – emerging conservation leaders – from all over the world, aiming to develop their skills, boost their networks, and enhance conservation efforts back in their home countries.
After delivering two virtual training sessions in May, CLP then hosted an in-person workshop in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, in June. One member of each of our 2023 Team Award-winning project teams was invited to attend the training, allowing them to meet and learn from each other and get to know their respective projects. (NB – Five participants were unable to attend the training in Mexico due to unforeseen circumstances and CLP has arranged their attendance at other events to compensate).
The 12 awardees who travelled to Mexico participated in a week-long workshop covering a variety of topics, including gender & conservation, conservation leadership, project planning & fundraising, and behaviour change.
The workshop participants were able to learn from experts in these topics, including CLP alumni and staff from CLP partner organisations (BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora and the Wildlife Conservation Society), as well as external facilitators.
They also had the chance to practice their public speaking skills by delivering short oral presentations about their CLP projects to the other workshop participants and CLP staff, from whom they received feedback on their presentations.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from such experienced professionals. I am confident that this training will give my team and me the skills, knowledge, and tools that we need to be successful conservation leaders and conservation projects. I am excited to use my skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on the world,” – Irianes Gozali (Indonesia), team member of the 2023 CLP award-winning project: “A sustainable seafood network to conserve mobulid rays, thresher and hammerhead sharks”
In a post-workshop survey, all participants rated their experience positively (42% rated it as Excellent, 50% Very Good, and 8% Good). What’s more, all participants noted they learned from experiences of others during the workshop, and all but one reported establishing one or more new collaborative relationship(s) as a primary benefit of attending the training.
“This training was crucial in enhancing my knowledge, skills, and effectiveness in my conservation work. I learned about implementing effective strategies in my projects, networking and collaboration with others. Also, I gained skills in problem-solving and critical thinking and, most importantly, I grew personally and professionally.” – Camila Kass (Argentina), team leader of the 2023 CLP award-winning project: “Protecting the threatened Thorntail Mountain Lizard and its habitat in Famatina mountains, Argentina”
“This training was one of the highlights of my year so far. I lived so many good and learning experiences that made me change the way I was thinking. I realized my strengths and weaknesses, and now feel more confident to continue my work as a conservation leader.” – Letícia Benavalli (Brazil), team leader of the 2023 CLP award-winning project: “Local communities’ empowerment as a driver to medium and large mammals conservation in the Cerrado”
While all the workshop modules were generally well-received by participants, the Conservation Leadership and Project Planning & Fundraising modules were particularly helpful. All participants reported gaining new project planning and fundraising skills (including constructing a logical framework and engaging with donors), and all but one said that they plan to take more leadership actions.
“I can now take more leadership actions because I understand how to share the vision, adapt to the working environment, communicate effectively, and resolve issues. Furthermore, I have learned to use the all-inclusive participatory method in leadership to inspire and so radiate trust in my colleagues.” – David Wechuli (Kenya), team leader of the 2023 CLP award-winning project: “Conservation of Threatened Harrison’s Giant Mastiff Bat at Mt Suswa Conservancy, Kenya”
“In conservation, we need to write a lot of proposals to find funds. I’d written many projects before but with this training I learned the mistakes that I made in the past and how to fix those.” – Tuğçe Nur İlbaş (Turkey), team member of the 2023 CLP Follow-Up project: “Establishing a Conservation Network for Protection of Threatened Cave-dwelling Bats in Turkey”
Along with the workshop’s formal training courses, CLP staff organised a variety of optional, informal sessions aimed at fostering social relationships (and potential collaborations) among our awardees. This included a Culture Night, when attendees learned about each other’s cultural heritage and traditions.
It also included a day trip, when workshop attendees and CLP staff visited Uxmal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – for a guided tour of the Mayan ruins. They also swam in a cenote; a natural swimming hole found only in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, created by asteroids hitting the Yucatan.
During the trip, participants enjoyed the wildlife in the surrounding areas and snapped a few impressive shots!
After the success of this year’s workshop, the CLP Management Team will use the lessons learned, including feedback from participants, to organise another Conservation Management & Leadership workshop for our 2024 Team Award-winners (currently under selection). Watch this space!
“Participating in [CLP’s Conservation Management & Leadership workshop] has been an enriching and transformative experience. Throughout this course, I have gained valuable knowledge in the design and execution of conservation projects. I am excited to share how this experience has strengthened my skills and allowed me to lead my project effectively, passing knowledge to my team and working together towards a common goal. Through these teachings, I have gained a deep understanding of conservation principles and best practices. From strategic planning to effective implementation, every aspect of the course has given me the tools to take my project to the next level.” – Rodrigo Calvo (Argentina), team leader of the 2023 CLP award-winning project: “Conservation of Southern Tuco-tucos in Pampean dunes:creation of sanctuaries and threats alleviation”
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The Conservation Leadership Programme is grateful to Arcadia Fund – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin – for supporting the delivery of this workshop. We would also like to thank the following workshop organisers and facilitators: Helen Anthem, Sherilyn Bos, Olivia Couchman, Dulce Espelosin, Trang Nguyen, Henry Rees, Leala Rosen, Nathalia Santana, and Becca Thomas.