Keela Client Spotlight: The Global Conservation Corps

Samantha Lego • Apr 20, 2020

It’s not a day — it’s a movement

Earth Day started in 1970 as a rallying point for both human and planetary health.

50 years later, this initial call to action rings even more true. 

The Earth and its inhabitants are taking a battering this year. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Climate Crisis, we earthlings have a lot to contend with (and a lot of ownership to take on).

We need to rally, just as our forebearers did in 1970, and demand bold action from our leaders in order to both bend the curve on COVID-19 as well as bend the even deadlier curve our scientists have predicted for the future of our planet. 

Just because we need to practice safe social distancing, doesn’t mean we can’t shout Earth Day’s 2020 message from the rooftops.

Enough is enough. 

We believe in science, we believe that the protection of our planet and the wellbeing of the people who live upon it are our top priorities.

We believe that everyone can make a difference. 

And while this year’s Earth Day is going digital, so too are a lot of the nonprofit organizations we work with in order to best adapt to current trends, so they can maximize impact 2020 and beyond. 

One organization that is making a difference for this planet, both on Earth Day, and the other 364 days of the year, is the Global Conservation Corps

Bridging the Gap Between Communities and Wildlife

Founded in 2015 as a US-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based on the work, dedication, and legacy of Martin Qoqizwe Mthembu, GCC focuses on African conservation with a specialty on building strong relationships between local populations and endangered animals. More than ‘conservation,’ the team behind GCC is helping to reshape social structures and harmoniously tie them to national heritage.

A ranger is synonymous with a steward or caretaker of our planet. Earth Day is calling on all of us to step up and be rangers. GCC is focusing on empowering those who already are. 

In the Greater Kruger National Park area, unemployment for ages 18-26 is over 75%, which has a direct correlation with poaching. The fewer opportunities available, the more people will turn to illegal means to make a living. 

Yet more needed to done to turn the tide on the war against poaching – especially against Rhinos. GCC began breaking social constraints which have begun to make all the difference. 

By integrating into the South African schooling system, Founder and Executive Director, Matt Lindenberg and his team hope to “develop, inspire, and equip the next generation of African conservationists.”

Over the last three years, their Future Rangers Program has directly impacted more than 2,500 children from rural communities who live next to the Park. Once a week, students are exposed to conservation education activities, which develop empathy, interest, and passion for wildlife, nature, and conservation. The most diligent of learners are sent on game drives to wildlife reserves, visit wildlife rehabilitation centers and interact with professionals in the conservation sector. 

This year, GCC hopes to expand into four high schools in order to reach an additional 2,000 students weekly. And they will rely on the help of technology to further their mission. 

Launch of the Future Rangers App

The app is a stepping stone into the next chapter of GCC’s digital journey. It will be used as a data collection and management tool to create a portfolio of evidence for individual learners. Those students can then use this store of personal information to apply for scholarships and direct employment upon graduation from high school.

Not only will this help to lower unemployment levels, but by instilling leadership, empathy, and respect for the environment within these learners, so that when they become tomorrow’s decision-makers, they will do so with wildlife and the environment at the core of their choices,” Lindenberg said.

For Earth Day this year, the GCC team is spending time on the ground with the field rangers of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. For these brave men and women, every day is ‘Earth Day.’

“To be completely honest, working in the conservation field can be very challenging, discouraging and depressing some days. Most of the time we seem to be fighting an uphill battle,” Lindenberg said

“However, this international holiday serves as a reminder that we are not alone, and that all around the world, there are thousands of phenomenal people and organizations making their unique impact to conserve this incredible planet. While you might think your initial actions and changes are small, your decision to be a responsible “conservationist” has the potential to start a movement. It starts with one.

Just as the world needs you and your actions for Earth Day 2020, the Global Conservation Corps needs your action to preserve some of the planet’s most fragile and endangered ecosystems by educating those best suited to care for it.

This Earth Day, take a stand for the planet by empowering our Future Rangers. 

Don’t forget to tune in to the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Virtual Conference on April 24th at 8am EST. The GCC’s Kate Vannelli will be speaking during the session: “Dive into the world of WildHub’s Conservationists” showcasing what’s working in conservation, climate, and sustainability.

This event will be live streamed so to get access all you need to do is:

1) Follow Earth Optimism on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

2) Invite friends to follow Earth Optimism.

3) Share the Digital Summit and the GCC’s Deep Dive Session.