In 2016, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) partnered with the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) to provide opportunities for CITW participants to build on their environmental education by attending a bridging course, entitled: “Youth Access Conservation and Environmental Education”. This course exposes school-leavers to theory and practical application of environmental education and the life of a field ranger in a conservation area. Learners attend the SAWC for three months, following which they are work-placed with host conservation organisations in nature reserves for two months, for post-training experiential learning. This provides them with first-hand experience and a real understanding of a career in nature conservation.
This year, we had four students from each of our Regions (Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) attend the bridging course. The students arrived at the college in Hoedspruit at the beginning of July to begin the theory component of their course.
Janet Wilkinson (CITW Regional Programme Manager) and Lisa Witherden (CITW Environmental Education Resource Developer) from CITW Johannesburg attended the Learner Certification Ceremony which was held on the 27th September. They spent time with the students, chatting to them about their time at the college. Kaone Samakata from Botswana on his favourite part of the course:
“What I liked the most was this course of leadership. I like leadership. And in my dream, I want to carry on leadership where I come from. That was my point of interest on this course.”
Kaone received the award for overall achiever in Environmental Education.
Tracey Snewe from Namibia talked to the CITW team about the first thing she’ll do when she gets home:
“The first thing that I will do once I arrive home is greet my friends, and tell them how life was this side, everything about SA. So I have experienced a lot and I’ve learnt a lot. I will share everything I’ve learnt here with them.”
The Certification Ceremony started with a well-oiled parade from the students. Corporal Walker Makgoka led the ‘passing out parade’, with CITW student Abiollus Haneb leading his fellow students as the ‘counter’. What an incredible job he did, keeping everyone in time and coordinated.
Abiollus has wonderful leadership skills, as we saw in 2013 when he attended a CITW Camp in Namibia as an Eco-Mentor.
Following their parade, the students sang their way to ceremony. Janet Wilkinson spoke to the students about opportunity by reading them a story from Geoffrey Aupiti, fondly known as Uncle Bones, an inspirational and deeply loved Coordinator from Botswana, with the hugest personality who sadly passed away in 2014. The story is about using the opportunities that you have been given “for your life success”. Janet encouraged the students to make the most of both their opportunity with SAWC, and to take home all that they have learnt to their communities – to pass on what they have learnt, and to use this experience to move them forward in life.
Janet also thanked Theresa Sowry (SAWC CEO) and her incredible team at the Southern African Wildlife College for their influence in the lives of our students.
The students are currently on their way home to complete their two month practical training in relevant conservation organisations. We look forward to monitoring their progress through this portion of the course, and are excited to see where this incredible opportunity takes them.
Written by Lisa Witherden
All photos taken by Janet Wilkinson ©