WCN saves wildlife by helping independent conservationists build connections and strong, sustainable organizations.
We bring together conservationists with passionate wildlife supporters. Our events, regular updates from the field, and opportunities for field visits get donors close to the conservation they care about. These connections have helped raise more than $50 million for wildlife conservation. Our annual Wildlife Conservation Expo, held in San Francisco, allows supporters to meet their conservation heroes in person. Each year we invite several guest conservationists to attend the Expo, extending to them the opportunity to share their work with the public and share knowledge among peer conservationists. We feature over 40 environmental organizations that exhibit at the event. WCN also holds a series of events throughout the year where supporters can meet our Conservation Partners.
Our Conservation Partners are among the best and most passionate wildlife conservationists in the world, and have extraordinary backgrounds in research and conservation. However, their long-term success also requires skills in areas such as strategic planning, marketing and accounting. WCN helps our conservationists and their staff members develop these skills by working closely with WCN staff members and by providing access to expert training in these topics. Each year our Partners receive live and interactive training in a series of workshops covering topics ranging from leadership skills to website design.
Creating and Supporting a Network
WCN's core network is made up of our fourteen Conservation Partners, all of whom have undergone an extensive selection process to become Partner. However, our support extends beyond this group to other conservationists, organizations and individuals around the world that save wild animals. Through the Elephant Crisis Fund, we provide funding to organizations that save elephants from ivory poaching. In 2014, we helped the Jane Goodall Institute raise $1.25 million by hosting Jane's 80th birthday party in our hometown of San Francisco. Every year, we invite several guest speakers to the Wildlife Conservation Expo to present and join our week of training sessions. We also accept donations for those speakers for one year following the event. In 2014, our Guest Speakers were Dr. Steven Amstrup of Polar Bears International, Dr. Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto of ProDelphinus (sea turtles), Dr. Gay Reinartz of Zoological Society of Milwaukee's Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative and Jim Thomas of Tenkile Conservation Alliance (tree kangaroos).
Connections across the WCN network are brought to life when the conservationists come together during Wildlife Conservation Expo week each year, and through WCN’s cross-partner visit program. This program, funded by the Handsel Foundation, supports educational visits between conservationists. By enabling conservationists to travel to each other’s field sites, the program creates deep connections and facilitates information exchanges about everything from camera trapping to children’s education programs. These experiences go beyond the formal settings of conferences and workshops. Conservationists also communicate virtually throughout the year, sharing experiences, questions and new information.
The WCN Scholarship Program invests in the next generation of conservation leaders by providing grants for graduate education to students who are committed to working on wildlife conservation in their home countries. The Sidney Byers Scholarship, Pat J. Miller Scholarship, and Handsel Scholarship have supported students from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. WCN has so far awarded 72 scholarships to promising conservationists from 30 countries.
The conservationists we support collaborate extensively with fellow field-based NGOs, community conservancies, governments and other stakeholders. WCN also helps build partnerships with groups worldwide that can offer skills or services to enhance our conservationists' work. In 2012, we pioneered the Conservation Innovation Forum, an event that brings together potential partners for wildlife conservationists. The initial Forum focused on opportunities for zoos and field-based conservationists to enhance their partnerships. WCN invests in opportunities for our Partners to participate in initiatives such as the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders, a training program to jumpstart the careers of talented young leaders, and Conservation Strategy Fund, which provides conservation economics analyses and training courses.
In 2006, WCN supporter Stephen Gold initiated a project to provide solar energy to conservation projects around the world. This innovative endeavor meets the great need for electricity in remote field stations, and combines cutting-edge technology with wildlife conservation and sustainable environmental practices. With generous donations from corporations and individuals, Stephen designs and assembles new solar electricity systems and ships the equipment to the field. To date, he has sent 24 systems to 10 conservation projects in 7 countries.