Alex Wheatley, 2016, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

As a teaching assistant with the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs, I taught ecology, biology, and the basic principles of conservation to schoolchildren in 11 rural schools in Laikipia County. The program also works with teachers to promote experiential learning techniques. The goal of the Conservation Clubs is to equip the next generation of herders and pastoralists with the information they will need to reduce human-wildlife conflict, improve resource conservation, and ultimately make herding and grazing more sustainable. My duties included planning, organizing, and preparing lessons, and then teaching these lessons in the Conservation Clubs each afternoon. This program showed me the many challenges that hinder conservation efforts in Kenya—from charcoal burning and retaliation killing to bad roads and poor communication. However, I was inspired by the kids in the club every day; their knowledge of and visions for their community, county, and country gave me hope for a more sustainable future. I left this summer certain that I want to incorporate teaching into my life after college (as a teacher, tutor, or coach) and resolute to continue my education as a global citizen.