Great Plains Academy

Leveraging the resources of Great Plains Conservation, the government of Botswana, and local public and private partnerships, the Great Plains Academy provides personal and community enrichment opportunities for local youth and adults in Botswana’s Okavango Delta through vocational training and conservation education programs.

The goals of the academy are to improve participants’ understanding of their local environment and wildlife, promote conservation and sustainable land management practices, and invest in improving the skill and capacity of the local community and workforce. All programs seek to serve the individual while imparting respect for the natural heritage and a solid conservation ethic. The Great Plains Academy encompasses the following:

Supplemental Education

Working with the Great Plains Foundation’s team of educator partners, including the Barefoot College, and local community organizations like EcoExisit and CLAWS Conservancy, the Great Plains Academy provides targeted supplemental education courses. These courses are developed in consultation with local school administrators and based upon data collected in the needs-assessment survey. Courses centre around the following topics: conservation, ecology, geography, human and wildlife conflict prevention, sustainable agriculture, horticulture, arboriculture, tourism, and hospitality training.

Vocational Training:
Drawing upon the academic resources of partner institutions and Great Plains Conservation’s (the commercial entity) vast internal human resources the Great Plains Academy provides critical and applied vocational training courses. These courses focus on conservation management and the tourism industries. Courses are open to both young people and adults. Topics include wildlife monitoring, culinary skills, vehicle maintenance, and hospitality.

Scholarships and Further Education

Students are encouraged and counselled to pursue further education, with the top student from each area, education and vocational training, receiving a scholarship to continue their studies at partnering universities or technical schools.

Great Plains also facilitates mentorship programs, where participants can learn and connect with industry professionals, giving them the opportunity to explore tourism and conservation as viable career pathways for economic and social mobility.

Guest Lectures

An additional resource and component to the program include “guest lecturers”. These individuals provide subject-specific lessons or training for a limited time. Guest lecturers are Great Plains staff, partners, or guests of Great Plains Conservation camps. The guest lecture program provides a vehicle through which Great Plains Conservation partners and guests can engage with local community members in a meaningful way while providing enrichment and educational opportunities for community members.

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