CoaltionWILD Partners with the Department of Interior to Mentor Young Conservationists
As I write, tens of thousands of young leaders are assessing the world they live in and discovering meaningful ways they can make it better. Many of these leaders are under the age of 30. Some are even in their teens. And quite a few live in remote places without easy access to the things you and I take for granted. When they take on environmental challenges, they do so at great personal sacrifice and risk. Being young is being vulnerable, and that vulnerability is heightened when you live in a remote community and have few local allies upon which to rely.
These leaders are people like Sai who grew up watching the destruction of northern Indian forests, and wanted desperately to protect and preserve the environment he called home, but lacked the resource and networks to make any headway.
They are people like Abby, who at the age of 9 had already concluded that the problems of the world are too big too fix and was ready to give into cynicism despite a deep longing to affect real change.
And they are people like the Augustin, who after a devastating earthquake in his own country watched as children went hungry because communities had lost the ability to grow their own food.
And despite the odds – the lack of resources, experience, and investment – these three individuals overcame despair and took positive action to create a better world. Sai is now working at the heart of illegal wildlife trafficking in India, Abby has started her own project to bring international attention to the plight of slow lorises, and Augustin is building international partnerships to bring food security to the children of Haiti. What they all have in common, is an unsinkable spirit and a partnership with CoalitionWILD which is helping to equip them with the things they need most to transform the world.
That is why in 2016 CoalitionWILD signed a unique agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior to provide professional mentorships to CoalitionWILD program leaders. I’m sure we can all relate to how difficult it is to affect positive change. Imagine the increased difficulty when you are trying to do it alone. These mentorships will give young leaders the professional advice and encouragement they need to sustain their efforts and build new opportunities for the future.
Without youth engagement in conservation, there is no future for our wild world. Fortunately, our young leaders are taking responsibility for the challenges they face. The question is: are we ready to help them in their essential work?