Conservationists of the Future

By Terri Breeden, GPOCP Program Director
With the year coming to an end, it also signifies the end of a semester for school children. This month, our Education team spent three days in Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan and the home of Tanjungpura University, known locally as UNTAN. We hosted a workshop for our Bornean Orangutan Caring Scholarship (BOCS) recipients. This program, supported by the Orangutan Republik Foundation, sends deserving youth from Ketapang and Kayong Utara regencies to study forestry, conservation and related subjects at UNTAN. Every year we host a capacity building workshop for these students to mold their skills and give them inspiration for their undergraduate research projects. Out of all of our programs, working with the BOCS students is by far one of my favorites. I also feel this program is making a real difference in regards to conservation by creating a cohort of local students that are highly educated and motivated to conserve their natural resources.
As you may recall from previous articles, GPOCP has hired two BOCS graduates, another is working as an assistant for UNTAN, and we are assisting the fourth in landing his first professional job. This year our workshop was more exciting because two of our BOCS alumni were able to attend and share their experiences with over 20 other students! Each student shared stories about their experiences at university, how the BOCS program works, including internships, and gave advice on how to stay motivated and push through to keep their grades up.
Adam Miller, Executive Director of Planet Indonesia, educating students about the wildlife bird trade.
We kicked off the event on Friday evening eating dinner together and sharing personal stories about the BOCS program. Students discussed the required bi-annual reports they must write about their progress as well as some of the stresses of studying, developing a research project, and maintaining a social life!
Saturday morning we started bright and early with a presentation by Adam Miller from Planet Indonesia. He spoke about the wildlife bird trade that often deals with threatened, or even critically endangered, species and how to combat the ever growing ‘silent forests.’ GPOCP works very closely with each of our students so this was a great opportunity for them to learn about another conservation organization.
Program Director, Terri Breeden, gives a presentation about how to make a professional PowerPoint.
Next on the agenda was a presentation by Mariamah Achmad, the Environmental Education Manager, on techniques to use for good public speaking. Following that, I gave a presentation on how to make a professional PowerPoint presentation. We then spent the afternoon working on some of their upcoming presentations for school and each student gave a five minute speech about their proposed research projects. That evening was spent going over formalities of the BOCS program, including reporting and how the internships work. This was especially important for our new students to hear, so they understand how and why their reports are so important, and what is expected from them during their respective internships.
On Sunday, we practiced how to spread conservation awareness through social media. Each student posted conservation stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We also went over social media etiquette and how to keep profiles professional because potential employers are looking at it! After lunch we reviewed the scientific method and discussed ideas and techniques the students could implement for their field research projects. We followed that up with how to make a professional CV or resume, something everyone needs to land that perfect job! We wrapped up the weekend with a delicious dinner and a discussion of ways the students can be more involved in conservation activities throughout the semester. Overall, the weekend was a great success and the students learned a lot.
BOCS students with GPOCP staff.