The CGCT-CGCF mentorship program was initiated in 2008 and for the past 13 years has supported more than 19 young Nepali graduates to pursue their dreams of becoming leaders in conservation and sustainable development. Two mentees are chosen each year on the basis of the proposal they submit along with related academic and social engagement criteria.  As of 2020, 12 women and 7 men have been awarded year-long support for a field project of their creation. This has included training, research and professional advice from Nepali and international mentors, financial support and other benefits.  Mentees have pursued a wide variety of topics from climate change journalism to wildlife-based ecotourism.

COVID put a temporary halt to this program in 2020 but mentee Mr. Sakar Jha re-directed his project “Inspiring Young Minds to Conserve Our Degrading Wetlands” to Taudaha Lake and a nearby school in the Kathmandu Valley instead of in Chitwan. Sakar introduced the students to wetlands, their importance, and conservation challenges. He led them on an excursion to the lake where they learned about the historical and cultural importance of the lake as well as steps being taken by a local lake conservation committee. The students then collected information about visitors’ perceptions of Taudaha Lake and documented the threats and potential for further conservation actions. Using the students’ analysis and findings, Sakar is now preparing a manual on wetland conservation that the school will integrate into its standard curriculum.

The other 2020 mentee Shikha Acharya’s project “Encourage and Increase Women’s Participation in Red Panda Conservation” was to be carried out in Langtang National Park. When Shikha was unable to conduct her field work and no alternative site was feasible, she dropped her menteeship and accepted a scholarship for university studies outside of Nepal.

With uncertainty around further lock-down restrictions in Nepal, CGCT and CGCF set out to conduct a review of the Mentorship Program with the goal of identifying key strengths, weaknesses and needed changes to increase impact.   We also wanted to hear from the mentees themselves:  what they are doing now, how the program helped them, and ways in which we can improve the program, as well as from the mentors who advised them. We’d also like to hear from you if you have any positive experiences or examples from other mentorship programs you’d like to share.

We look forward to reinvigorating the program with new insights. Your support has been critical, and we look forward to sharing the review results with you in our next newsletter.