The Southern African Wildlife College as an institution shared the good news in early-2019, of its partnership with, and participation in the Nedbank-Youth Employment Services (YES) internship programme facilitated through WildTrust.  It’s now a year later, and the placements have come to an end.

This partnership saw the College joined by fifteen new faces as part of the Collaboration, and five of these interns were placed with the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment unit.  Precious Ndlovu, Goodwill Seepane, Lydia Sifunda, Verrah Ndhlozi, and Ponagatso Mogakane have over the precious year played very important roles in the Unit’s field operations, and also had a chance of being exposed to diversity of work within the department. Their stay at the College will always be synonymous with our piloting of the Coaching Conservation children’s conservation education programme. Here the interns acted as mentor’s, coaches and trainers to the Grade 5 programme participants. Despite battling the sometimes blisteringly warm summer afternoon, the groups team spirit, positive energy in the classroom and on the field, will be deeply missed. 

The team were also involved in supporting field research (data collection, and translation of questionnaires into Shangaan), working alongside Parker Banas of Michigan State University who was undertaking his Masters studies. Their gauge on Exploring local perceptions on the causes and consequences of environmental insecurity/security has informed some of the unit’s ongoing community liaison work. During their internship with us, we also had the opportunity to add value to the professional development through providing training and mentorship in: First Aid level 1, Institutional Review Board training (for field research) NQF Level 5 training in: Facilitating Conservation Understanding (Environmental Education). They were also trained in using handheld devices for data collection, and of course receiving training as trainers on the coaching conservation programme. In supporting further capacity development, these interns along with the broader YES intern group, partook in training presented by Nedbank in: Consumer Education, which proved to be useful as some of these youths were receiving employment for the first time.

As much as we bid farewell to the group as part of the youth employment services placement, they year has provided enough time for the individuals to demonstrate their value to the team. As such we will be retaining some of the interns to continue their good work in supporting the unit’s environmental programmes.