Bee eater in Okavango Delta, Botswana, 2007. —Cecilia Simon, 2014 Fellow


In August 2021, the current cohort of Kinship Conservation Fellows gathered virtually for two weeks of intensive learning, capacity building, and connecting. This cohort of 17 Fellows from across the globe was first selected in early spring 2020. When the pandemic forced the postponement of the month-long program in Bellingham, Washington last summer, program director Nigel Asquith adapted the experience to the virtual space.

Because of the necessary delay, this cohort of Fellows has benefited from the longest time together in advance of the intensive training portion. They have already had the opportunity to share their work, projects, and goals with each other throughout last winter and spring. So they arrived at the two-week virtual training primed to learn and engage.

The faculty during the two weeks focused on adaptive leadership, a skill absolutely vital to this current moment of dynamic changes in global economic, health, and climate systems. The Kinship Conservation Fellows program has an important point-of-view: that market-based solutions and approaches are fundamental to addressing the challenges facing the planet. Not only did the August training focus on the fundamentals of this approach, but it equipped the Fellows with concrete tools to implement the approach in their work in The Philippines, India, Mexico, Ethiopia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States, among other countries.

Some of the Fellows in the cohort shared their impressions of the virtual sesssions:

I learned a lot for the 15 days and a thousand thanks for that.

It inspired me to fish out some ideas that I had which I thought would not work.

I thought it was great how much we all bonded, even in this virtual environment.

I did not imagine that I could talk to the other fellows so deeply and know their projects and ideas. I was positively surprised in this aspect.

I am very grateful for the two weeks of virtual sessions so far, and have found it immensely useful for my work, in terms of possibilities for various mechanisms and methods, but also in terms of the outlook and perceiving/being prepared for conflict (instead of only dreading them).

This cohort will gather together in person in Bellingham in the summer of 2022, when they will have a chance to work with the incoming 2022 cohort. Applications to join the 2022 cohort will open on November 1, 2021.