You might wonder how dedicating your life to conservation in the field feels like. Or maybe you just want to discuss how to achieve conservation in the world of today. Whichever may be the case for you, being able to share these questions and many more with award winning conservationists is guaranteed to inspire you.
Last Saturday, 26th of October, Burger’s Zoo opened its doors yet again for, not one, not three, but sixteen Future For Nature Award winners to share their visions for conservation with students and young professionals. And as usual, Future For Nature Academy was tasked with gathering a group of enthusiastic youngsters to populate the event and bring their curious minds together.
The afternoon started off promising. As we walked through the hallway into the auditorium, we could read the amazing conservation stories of the awardees as a sign of what was to come. In the Auditorium, the program kicked off with a relaxed atmosphere. Our very own Jannah Boerakkers gave us a word of welcome and soon the first group of winners took the stage.
Four by four, each group of winners was presented with conservation issues to discuss. Meanwhile, the audience was able to vote on popular answers through their smartphones as well as posing their own questions. From more fundamental questions relating to our personal view of conservation we went on to discuss our priorities for the field and the value of staying optimistic. Finally, we even had time to comment on our role as conservationists to set an example with our choices.
As the panel session came to an end, guests and winners had already generated enough food for thought. It was now time to calm the hungry stomachs (and minds) with some snacks, drinks, and of course mingling, as we prepared to join the dynamic workshops planned for the afternoon.
But not without first checking the Job Board set by the Future For Nature Award winners. Here each awardee displayed vacancies within their organization to hopefully be occupied by our VIP guests.
The workshop session then followed, with exciting themed workshops. From more fundamental/ecologic conservation topics such as rainforest conservation and marine conservation to applied topics on human dimensions like human-wildlife conflict and wildlife crime. Surely everyone had something to choose from.
To break the ice, each workshop session started with some speed dating – a fine way to get to know the work and opinions of each other regarding several conservation hot topics. But it was time to get some work done and our winners and guests gathered to discuss the topics of their choice. Hopefully, everyone managed to leave their workshops with something to show for their hard work.
But let it not be all about work! The winners and VIP guests had time for more mingling after their workshops. In the end, we hope everyone had a good time and was able to satiate their curious minds.
By Monica Vidal