In the past, young adults had time to experiment and figure things out for themselves. It’s not that they didn’t have problems, or that those problems weren’t urgent; it’s just that typically those problems didn’t involve the loss of 25% of all life on earth in the blip of 25 years. But that’s the reality that this generation and the ones that come after us face.
If we want any chance at shifting our current trajectory, somehow we need to accelerate the learning, leadership development, and action implementation process because we as a generation don’t have the luxury of wait-and-see.
CoalitionWILD was founded on the belief that if we could tap into the passion, ambition, and vision of young people impatient for change, then we can teach the rest. If we could develop programs that took young people on the edge of making a difference and instilled in them leadership skills, strategies, knowledge and know how, then we could propel them to their full potential and we could help to generate real, on the ground action projects that these young leaders imagined. But most importantly, we saw that if we could create a global connected community of support, of encouragement, of peers helping peers, and of belief in innate abilities, then we would remove self-doubt as a reason for failure.
We also rely on our understanding of our own lack of knowledge. In recognizing that circumstances, realities, and information varies between each community, it has allowed us to place true empowerment into the hands of those who do have that knowledge – the individuals who are on the ground, living in these places, meeting the problem at their doorstep each morning. It is those minds who have the greatest chance of developing solutions that not only work, but are long lasting and are resilient.
Through CoalitionWILD’s 9 month Ambassador program, our participants are given access to the tools they need to bring their visions of a better planet to life, and the conviction that they know how to use those tools best. Our Global Mentorship Program pairs early career conservationists with veterans in the field to facilitate intergenerational dialogue, develop leadership skills, grow networks, and to breathe new energy into long-standing issues. The Young Champions of the Earth prize, in collaboration with the UN Environment, seeks out brilliant young environmentalists to further their ambitions through seed-funding, global publicity and recognition, mentorship, and entrepreneurial training. CoalitionWILD’s Leader Directory is curating a library of young leaders around the world who are tackling conservation challenges while allowing readers to learn how to get involved.
Take Haiti’s Augustin. Augustin has been passionate about conservation since he was a child, but 30 years living in Haiti has exposed him to vast poverty, food insecurity, mass deforestation, and the aftermath of some of the worst environmental disasters in the last decade. Augustin’s hope was waning, but his passion wasn’t. Through CoalitionWILD’s Ambassador program, Augustin gained the support he needed to develop his vision of bringing environmental education to rural schools across Haiti, the encouragement to go to his first school, and the second, and third, and then twentieth; and the platform he sought after to gain exposure and opportunities to further his impact. Augustin has educated over 250 students across Haiti in only a year, and continues to grow and develop his programs to include initiating school gardens to tackle food insecurity and incentivizing the monitoring of newly planted trees to combat deforestation. All because he was given access to the tools he needed, and the conviction that he knew how to use them best.
You can join CoalitionWILD via our website as a participant, a member, or a supporter. Help us search out rising leaders on the edge of making a difference and to instill in them the skills, the knowledge, and the confidence to be a leader not just one time, not just in their community, and not just for one problem they face, but to be a leader globally, for the planet, for a lifetime.
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In 2013, with an invitation from The WILD Foundation to address the lack of support and visibility that was available to younger generations in the environmental sector, Crista Co-Founded CoalitionWILD, a now 10,000+ member global initiative in over 50 countries connecting and equipping the world’s young leaders to tackle our planet’s greatest conservation challenges. She continues to lobby for a stronger integration of youth voices and empowerment in decision making, and has achieved this through recently co-publishing an intergenerational leadership toolkit for conservation and has collaborated with the United Nations Environment and the United States Department of Interior to develop new programs supporting these efforts. Crista is the North American Focal Point for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Young Professionals, an active member of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, a Womentum, Leadership Jackson Hole, and Earth Charter Institute Alumni, and has had her writing featured in international publications including the International Journal of Wilderness. Most recently, Crista was named one of Wyoming’s Top 40 Under 40 and was named the 2017 Rising Star by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.