The recent Conservation Leaders in the Caribbean (CLiC) workshop hosted at St. George’s University brought together 20 young professionals from 13 Caribbean countries to kick off an intensive two-year program geared toward grooming the next generation of Caribbean conservationists.
This inaugural cohort completed a three-day workshop, followed by a 10-day course in conservation planning and adaptive management. Over the next two years, through workshops, online and in-person courses, and hands-on project implementation exercises, the team will receive training on how to conceptualize, secure funding for and implement a conservation project. The program aims to impart valuable knowledge to these young professionals from seasoned conservationists who have operated in the Caribbean for years.
“We are passing on the mantle of stewardship,” said Nadra Nathai-Gyan, coordinator of the program, from Trinidad and Tobago. “In the upcoming years, we expect to see these young leaders in influential positions where they are going to make a difference in saving Caribbean wildlife resources.”
Caribbean unity has long been a major goal for the region, and this project is playing a role in forwarding this goal.
“As a professional working in a small Caribbean island, it’s very easy to become isolated, nationalistic, and focused solely on the problems facing your island or organization,” explains Carla Daniel, a participant in the program. “Interacting with people from the wider Caribbean region with whom you share common goals, and learning about the issues they face, and the issues you share with them is like coming home to one large family.”
Participants were high in praise of the program. “We’ve been learning from six directors who have been in the field and have a lot to teach,” said Jonnel Edwards, a participant from Grenada.
“This is a very well-designed program that targets the right audience from the appropriate angles based on the realities of our home countries,” added Melvin Archibald, from Nicaragua. “It makes sense that this program is focused on teaching leadership to young professionals who will go back to their own countries and effect change.”
The CLiC program’s collaborating partners include St. George’s University and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), with main sponsorship coming from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders program. The Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), another important collaborator, will administer the program in its second year.