Transforming Local Youth to be the Future Leaders in Conservation
Iis Susiani | 14 July 2021
The young generation has huge potential resources to contribute to the success of conservation efforts in the long term. They have unique character since mostly they are tremendously eager to learn something new and open-minded for growth opportunities as well as have high empathy for the environment. But, these potential characteristics of youth would be meaningless unless we can fill it with proper knowledge, skill improvement, and opportunity given. Therefore, all forms of education such as sharing knowledge and on-hand training play important roles in conservation.
We do believe that education is the key to improve community knowledge and through that, we could increase their awareness to take action in the sawfish protection effort. To reach out to those missions, we established a program that focused on building up local youth capability in sawfish research and conservation. Sawfish Indonesia Internship Programme involved the best 4 candidates from Marine Resources Management Department, Musamus University. They had actively joined as internees of the program for more than 5 months.
There were several activities that provided the internees to learn many things about sawfish conservation. We conducted a sawfish science class as an initiating discussion platform to deeply understand the biological and ecological of sawfish. Then we taught them a little bit about social science which will be applied in our research. The most intriguing one, at least for them, was focus group discussions to practice creating their own conservation project. We also had practical sessions in this program to upgrade their technical skills in using QGIS for mapping tools in marine conservation. Aside from learning a more thematic subject, the internees also had the opportunity to improve their leadership skills through the Youth Coastal Leadership Bootcamp event and collaborated with other local youth, particularly from the best five local senior high schools in Merauke who were considered passionate about marine conservation effort. Our commitment to educating the youth was also continuous by assisting them to complete their undergraduate final assignments.
We hope this local youth empowerment is a starting point to prepare the next leaders in conservation. We believe that there is no point in accomplishing the conservation project outcomes well when you are not considering local involvement in your objectives as this kind of project would likely not be sustainable enough to ensure the vision of the project itself.