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Fostering a Conservation Culture: The Impact and Growth of WCP’s Conservation Careers Fair

By Salima Mvula

In Zambia, conservation holds a profound significance deeply rooted in our culture, traditions, and way of life. At its core, conservation means preventing the wasteful use of our precious natural resources and preserving our rich environment to ensure sustainability for future generations.

However, conservation goes beyond this simple definition. It is about the harmonious coexistence of our communities with the diverse wildlife and natural landscapes that define our nation. It involves sharing traditional and modern knowledge to empower individuals and communities to take active roles in protecting our environment.

To achieve this, it is important to foster a sense of responsibility, respect, and knowledge in our younger generations, to ensure the values of conservation become an integral part of their lives. Hence, the Conservation Careers Fair (CCF) was born in 2018, which brings together potential employers from the conservation sector and students from Zambian training institutions, creating a platform for students to connect and learn from industry professionals.

Through the CCF, Wildlife Crime Prevention (WCP) has collaborated with partners across the conservation landscape to build an environment conducive to the engagement of young Zambian job seekers, as well as raise the profile of the conservation sector as a sustainable and important career path, which plays a significant role in Zambia’s economy.

The Conservation Careers Fair, now in its seventh year, has grown significantly, featuring over 40 organisations and attracting over 1,000 students and young professionals. WCP has received support from the Wood Tiger Fund, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the National Institute of Public Administration, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts Zambia, First Quantum Minerals, HLB, and MTN Zambia. Through these partnerships, WCP aims to demonstrate to young, educated Zambians that conservation is a rewarding and viable career path.

Speaking at the most recent Conservation Careers Fair in 2023, WCP’s Director of Communications, Luwi Nguluka emphasised that conservation is not the responsibility of a select few but a mission that requires the dedication and collaboration of every Zambian. She highlighted that this mission transcends borders, cultures, and backgrounds. Whether you are a student, researcher, community leader, or concerned citizen, everyone has a role to play in protecting our environment.

“We gather here to explore the many exciting career opportunities within the field of conservation. The Zambian Conservation Careers Fair is a platform that brings together passionate individuals and organisations dedicated to preserving our natural heritage. It is a chance to learn, network, and find your place in the fight to conserve our planet,” Luwi expressed.

The primary goal of the fair is to empower Zambia’s future conservation workforce with the skills needed to secure the best possible jobs. The event offers students the chance to interact with potential employers, listen to career talks from well-known and respected conservationists, and challenge their perceptions of the conservation sector. Notable speakers who have graced the CCF stage include Zambia Institute for Tourism & Hospitality Studies (ZITHS) Chairperson Mulemwa Moongwa, Special Assistant to the President Jito Kayumba, Wildlife Producers Association of Zambia Executive Director Chanda Mwale, and FQM Zambia Coordinator for Agriculture and Wildlife Support at Kansanshi Mining Plc, Dr. Jackson Katampi, to name a few.

Remmy Kopeka, who benefited greatly from the Conservation Careers Fair, shared how attending the 2019 career fair was instrumental in his professional development. As a recent graduate eager to enter the conservation field, the event provided him with invaluable opportunities. Through the connections he made there, he secured an internship as a data analyst at WCP Zambia, significantly advancing his career.

“The impact of the Conservation Careers Fair extended beyond securing the internship. I met professionals from various conservation organisations, gaining insights into different career paths and opportunities within the sector. Six months into my internship, my dedication and hard work were recognised, and I transitioned to a full-time position at WCP. This milestone provided stability and further growth opportunities, including numerous training sessions and international travel experiences that broadened my perspective on global conservation issues,” Remmy explained.

The profound significance of the fair extended even further this year, as Remmy achieved a new milestone in his career by being promoted to a managerial position. This advancement highlights the fair’s impact on his professional development. In his new role, Remmy will have the opportunity to lead and mentor other young aspiring conservationists, contributing to the growth and enhancement of Zambia’s conservation sector.

This year, WCP is excited to host another fantastic career fair at NIPA on 13 September 2024, under the theme ‘Take A Step’; which encourages students and young professionals to boldly begin their careers and get ahead. It aims to inspire them to become changemakers in the conservation space by participating in activities such as volunteering and networking with potential employers. These engagements will not only positively impact our economy but also contribute significantly to their professional growth.

To further inspire and educate the younger generation on the importance of conservation, WCP through a partnership with Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia introduced the Conservation Careers Fair School Visits under the Conservation Careers Fair initiative. A total number of six schools have been visited since last year, namely: the American International School of Lusaka (AISL), Lake Road PTA, Lusaka Boys, Rhodespark, St Mary’s Secondary, and Arakan Girls Secondary School. The aim is not only to educate these young pupils on conservation but also to highlight the diverse opportunities within the field of conservation.  

During the school visits, information is shared on where the learners can acquire the relevant qualifications for these unique careers. Seasoned conservationists from various fields are also invited to participate in the school visits to encourage aspiring conservationists.

Additionally, to continually provide graduates and young professionals with information on job opportunities WCP teamed up with ARC Zambia to create the Careers in Conservation Zambia Job Portal; a website dedicated to sharing all the latest conservation and environmental jobs within Zambia and the surrounding regions.

Conservation in Zambia is a deeply rooted mission that requires the dedication and collaboration of all citizens. The Conservation Careers Fair has played a pivotal role in fostering this mission by providing a platform for young professionals to connect with potential employers and learn from industry experts. With ongoing support from various organisations and an expanding array of initiatives, the fair continues to empower the next generation of conservationists, demonstrating that conservation is not only a vital and rewarding career path but also essential for the sustainability of our environment and economy.

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