Great Plains Conservation’s and the Great Plains Foundation’s successful Conservation Education program has positively impacted community members since its inception and inspired young people to embrace conservation of their unique ecosystems.
The Great Plains Foundation is working to develop the next generation of conservation leaders through its Conservation Education programs.
Started nearly a decade ago as a photography camp with National Geographic, Great Plains Conservation Education programs have evolved into a comprehensive conservation curriculum, hands-on learning opportunities, and a mentorship program for young people living in the remote villages neighboring its reserves in Botswana.
Unique to the Great Plains Conservation Education program is the length of time students participate. Over multiple school years, participating students are exposed to a comprehensive conservation curriculum. When complete, the students gain a solid understanding of ecology and the importance of conservation. We strongly feel that these young people are the next generation of conservationists, so we developed a curriculum that can be applied to their home environment.
In addition to in-school lessons, Great Plains sponsors a Conservation Camp each December. This program invites 20 local students into the bush for a week’s worth of game drives, walks, conservation lessons, cultural activities, craft sessions, and of course the annual soccer match against the facilitators! The facilitators include our community liaisons, camp guides, and camp managers. An unplanned benefit has been exposing the children to conservation-minded mentors from their own community.
The impact of this program on these young people is tangible. The participating school has gone from having the worst pass rate in the region, to being named the number three ranked school for the area. But most importantly, we see a huge improvement displayed in the students’ self-confidence and their stewardship of their environment…and that is the mark of success.