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CONSERVATION EDUCATION

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, featuring hands-on learning opportunities, and a mentorship program for young people living in remote villages neighboring its camps in Botswana and Kenya. 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.

The Great Plains Student Conservation Camps feature week-long (5-10 day) programs incorporating classroom instruction, field studies, and mentorship. Students receive daily thematic lessons, taught on- site by educational facilitators. Classroom lessons are supplemented by daily field studies where students observe and engage with their ecosystems, learning from conservation professionals and top safari guides. Creating opportunities for the students to informally engage with and learn from conservation professionals is the third component to the project model. Through informal social activities, like sporting matches and games, the students develop conservation mentors and positive examples of local professionals working to protect their fragile ecosystems.

A central element to the Student Conservation Camp’s successful program-model is leveraging the resources of the Great Plains commercial safari camps. The Student Conservation Camps draw upon both the equipment (vehicles, accommodation, etc) and staff resources of Great Plains Conservation to execute the weeklong program. Staff safari guides play a large role donating their knowledge, experience, and time; becoming role models for the students.

The impact of this program on these young people is tangible. One participating school in Botswana 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 all the students’ self- confidence and their stewardship of their environment…and that is the mark of success.

A gift of $250 USD will fund one student for a year’s worth of conservation camp activities.