In April 2019, our Director Lesley McNutt and Program Coordinator Dr Hugh Webster took part in a week-long strategy workshop with the academic team at the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), establishing a long-term partnership aimed at helping both our organizations scale up children’s education for sustainable development across Southern Africa.

Dr Hugh Webster admiring the K9 fast response anti-poaching unit at SAWC

Our first objective was to design, develop and secure institutional accreditation for a train-the-trainer program. By training new coaches, we will build regional capacity for the delivery of our unique Learning From Wildlife programs, while also supporting SAWC’s local outreach program, providing new employment opportunities in vulnerable communities and helping Coaching Conservation (CC) to expand our capacity from its current level reaching around 4000 kids per year.

Following discussions with the staff at SAWC a short course template was designed to cover all aspects of CC’s delivery including the necessary theoretical background on ecology, ethology, and education, as well as making provision for practical teaching experience in collaboration with local primary schools. Successful candidates will be accredited with an SAWC short course credit and graduate as competent CC coaches, recognising their ability to demonstrate the essential knowledge and enthusiasm required to deliver fun, informative lessons of the sort CC and SAWC pride ourselves on.

In August 2019, CC and SAWC entered into a second formal agreement to deliver a variety of CC programs in the villages adjacent to SAWC that would both act as an outreach program for the college and provide an important practical training opportunity for future trainees. This project has served as a useful pilot phase of our longer-term train-the-trainer project and was underpinned by the financial and resource support provided by Investec Rhino Lifeline.

Under this agreement SAWC was able to deliver a 6-week children’s program to all 280 grade 5 learners at four primary schools within the Welverdiend–Hlavekisa region, with all learners also enjoying the chance for a bush day and overnight stay held on campus at the college. Bush Rapid Awareness Programs (RAPs) were also delivered to Lumukisa, Sesete, Beretta and Khokhovela primary schools. In all, CC programs were delivered to 652 local kids. Following an enthusiastic response from all stakeholders, Investec Rhino Lifeline has subsequently agreed to fund a further program year.

Update – Our train-the-trainer program secured institutional accreditation in South Africa before the end of 2019. However, the course’s first trainees were scheduled to arrive in April 2020 until our plans were interrupted by the current Coronavirus outbreak. When the program re-starts, this first cohort of qualified coaches will enable Coaching Conservation to reach an additional 1000 children in Botswana every year.

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