We spoke to Annetjie Siyaya, our Research and Education Manager at our centre in Namibia about her recent education programme which was supported by Anglo American’s Ambassadors For Good programme. Thank you to them for supporting this programme, which has inspired so many young people throughout the cheetah’s range.
‘As a past participant of Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF’s) Future Conservationist of Africa (FCA) Programme, the 3-months (November – January 2020) FCA Online Learning Project was very personal to me. Many years ago when I was a teenager, my school and my church clubs, Earthwise Environmental Club and Pathfinder Club respectively, would bring us to CCF every year. This is how I got interested in conservation. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine coming back to work towards conserving the same species and work for the same organisation that introduced me to conservation. It was because of the opportunities that my church and my school were able to provide me that I am where I am today. I saw this project as a chance to provide young people that same opportunity which was provided to me as a young child.’
‘I love teaching young people. This project allowed for me to share my passion for cheetah and wildlife conservation, with the help of other equally passionate conservationists here at the CCF. With this project, CCF aimed at not only raising awareness about the cheetah, but aimed at creating an understanding and appreciation for Namibia’s endangered large cat among young people. It is only through understanding the cheetah that people truly appreciate the cheetah and the environment in which it lives. When this understanding is instilled in young people early in their lives, the effects on the conservation of wildlife is profound. I speak from experience when I say environmental education programmes work. The results may not be achieved right away, but when they are finally achieved, environmental education becomes one of the greatest tools in conservation.’
‘The project also aimed at showing casing to young people what careers exist in conservation. Many times when I have asked young people what they want to become when they grow up, it was always, “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to be a teacher” or “ I want to be a police officer”, it is never, “I want to be a conservationist!” Most of the responses I would get after I ask them why they choose that career the answers are almost always because those are the careers and professions that they are exposed to on a daily basis. Our target group for this project was grade 10 students (16 – 18 years old), who are at a critical age of deciding what they want to do post-high school. This project therefore helped expose our target group to various conservation professions & professionals, and careers through videos made by our diverse team of staff here at CCF.’
‘Thanks to the support of Anglo American through Ambassadors for Good, CCF was able to market the project to over 2,000 students, and delivered online lessons to over 350 students across Namibia, whom we would not have been able to reach following the COVID-19 pandemic.’
‘What really drives me to work with young people like these is their ability to easily appreciate and grasp concepts adults sometimes struggle with. Some of them left some very motivating and heart-warming comments at the end of every lesson and quiz. This alone helps to reassure me that even if only one or two students end up with a story like mine (or become a mini me), I will have done my part in helping educate Namibia’s young on the importance of conservation, and they too will pay it forward just like I’m doing.’
‘I look forward to further mentoring the young people who participated in this project, and I look forward to working with more young people on this project, should CCF receive funding for 2021 for this project.’
Annetjie Siyaya – Research and Education Manager, Cheetah Conservation Fund Namibia
We’re so grateful to all of our wonderful partners for supporting CCF’s cheetah conservation activities.