Desirae Early and Ky Ngo were chosen last spring to participate in the 2007 Nissan-World Wildlife Fund Environmental Leadership Program which took them to Nashville, Washington D.C., and Brazil. Here, they share their experiences.
In DC, we got the chance to meet many professionals who are involved in a broad range of environmental work–from someone at the World Bank to someone who works at Capitol Hill.
I loved the leadership training that we received in Washington DC. It really changed my life in that I realized what my strengths are and what I want to do in my future career. I finally accepted that you don't have to be a scientist to participate in conservation efforts. I fully realized my deep interest in green business and entrepreneurship and I now know that's where I want to put my energy and time.
In Brazil we visited project sites of an environmental organization called IPE (Institute for Ecological Research) in three different regions. We did many hands on activities such as harvest manioc, plant trees at a nursery, carve animals out of wood, and did a field activity to map out the home range of a primate, the Black Lion Tamarin. We also stayed three days and three nights on the Rio Negro on a boat where we did more activities and took a hike into the Amazon forest.
I never expected that I would develop such deep friendships with everyone in the program. We all got along so incredibly well and I know that we've all made life long friendships.
At the conference in Washington D.C. and Nashville, TN we listened to presentations given by many different people working on environmental issues. This included people who work at the city level, state level, national, and global, in areas such as law, business, science, and many others. We also visited offices, the Nissan plant, and went on a canoe trip.
In Brazil, we spent most of our time in the field. We visited many local people and communities and heard how they have started or participated in environmental projects, went on trips through the Atlantic and Amazon forests, and participated in cultural activities. Brazil was really amazing, but I think my favorite part was getting to meet all of the other students selected for the program. They have all done some really awesome work and we came from very diverse backgrounds. I learned so much from getting to know each of them.
Through the fellowship, I was able to help focus my lifelong and professional goals. While I was considering working in the legal arena, I have decided to focus on integrating green practices into corporations' processes and products. I feel much more confident, prepared, and really excited to begin my professional career. I have also had a lot of personal growth and am very motivated to implement and improve the projects that I have been planning at UC Berkeley during my last year.