This summer, Rare launched four new programs in Indonesia, the Philippines, Micronesia and Latin America to train 50 conservation leaders about social marketing, behavior change and inspiring pride in natural resources. The Rare Conservation Fellows had anxiously awaited letters alerting them to their acceptance into Rare’s program. Their initial training delivered all that they had hoped and more.
The fellows even surprised Rare staff with their level of preparedness. The 11 fellows who recently started in Micronesia knew about Rare’s program from previous campaigns run on their small islands and had prepared for their first classes. “They already knew how to do concept models,” says Matt Lutkenhouse, Rare’s director of English programs. “It is usually a skill we teach.” The level of enthusiasm and experience the fellows possess impressed Lutkenhouse. However, it may have backfired when the fellows worked into early morning hours on assignments and knocked on his door with questions.
To keep spirits and energy high in the sleep-deficient, Internet-deprived and waterless classroom, Lutkenhouse and the Rare team employed proven adult-learning strategies like getting everyone to create their own dance move and then play a game similar to Memory. (Lutkenhouse’s move was stirring the bowl).
Rare colleagues from Indonesia, Philippines and Micronesia all shared late night calls to relay experiences and best practices with each other. “All of the fellows were really excited and embracing the experience,” says Lutkenhouse. “It put a lot of pressure on the Rare team to make things really good.”
The fellows concur that the challenges were worth the effort and their campaign promises give hope to communities and species around the world.
50 conservation leaders joined the Rare family this summer. Below are some of their initial thoughts.
“It’s a rare experience that you get to work for something larger than yourself.” -Curtis Graham, Micronesia
“Oh my God, my head is smoking! Final Research Plan, Stakeholder Matrix, Engagement Strategy … All of those documents need to be completed this week. It will be horrible if I cannot complete them all. Please help me, God.” -Beth Wawiyai, Indonesia
“With the guidance of the Rare team, I am positive that we will be able to build communities who will actively participate in and inspire sustainable fishing in the Philippines.” -Girley Gumanao, Philippines
“My dream was always to become a teacher, but by the time I finished high school my path changed. Now, as a Rare Conservation Fellow, I will get the tools to teach others about the importance of conservation in my hometown.” -Anselma Zumaeta Soplín, Peru
“Bring it on!” -Milner Okney, Micronesia