The Youth Access: Conservation and Environmental Education Bridging Programme was first piloted at the Southern African Wildlife College in 2010 with funding received from the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust. Since then, this programme has become one of the College’s flagship youth programmes.  In 2019 we are very happy to announce that we will again be implementing this exciting six month programme! This year’s course will be starting on 8 April and we will be joined by 17 fervent youth, hailing from various provinces around the country. 

This programme was initiated as a response and possible solution following the identification of a number of barriers to entry (in conservation) for youth, especially those from a historically disadvantaged background. Most of the youth who experienced the greatest barriers were those living closest to protected areas / areas for conservation.

The SAWC has now designed a programme to equip entry level learners with a sufficient amount of theory from both a conservation guardianship as well as an environmental education perspective. It then brings these perspectives together around environmental leadership training.

Over the years, the programme has evolved in importance, equipping youth with meaningful life skills, and opening doors into a career of conservation with 80% of these learners receiving sustainable exit opportunities within the first year post completion.

It is expected that following the four  months of theoretical training, these learners will then be placed for two  months with various private and provincial host conservation organisations in order to gain valuable field experience. During this time the learners will actively participate in and be exposed to practical activities ranging from: conducting daily patrols, to field operations, the collection of field data, compiling field reports, game capturing/releasing, as well as learning about reporting procedures, attending wildlife crime court cases, and engaging in environmental education with communities and schools.

We look forward to receiving the next intake as they hopefully prepare themselves for enjoyable careers in conservation!