My name is Ramnath. I am a conservation educator and nature photographer from Chennai. I am one of the 40 fellows from across the world selected for the Asia Pacific Leadership Program
at the collaborative East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu, Hawaii. This is a one-year hands-on fellowship for promising professionals to facilitate regional expertise and leadership. It begins from August 2017. The EWC has covered 80% of my program expenses through two scholarships. I’ve also received a travel grant that covers my airfare.
The natural world has been my passion since my middle school days. By my early 20’s, I was criss-crossing India to photograph its incredible natural and cultural heritage. Seven years back, I took a conscious decision to do my bit for the environment through my skills. The path that I then followed led me to become an ‘accidental educator.’ Since then, I’ve worked with over 200 schools, designed and conducted a few nature education programs and interacted with about 50,000 students across my home state of Tamil Nadu.
Today, I have come to believe that doing my bit for the environment individually is not enough. If we are to build a generation of ecologically conscious citizens, I need to do a lot more. Reflecting upon my past experiences, I have decided to spend my 30’s in working to transform every school I engage with into an eco-conscious learning center, to create periodic learning programmes for students and to train a group of motivated young people to become effective nature educators. These decisions made me realize that I need to exponentially improve my leadership capabilities and benefit from a cross-cultural experience in order to achieve large-scale changes in nature education in my country.
Why is this fellowship important to me?
I can study and gather first hand experiences on nature education models around the world by working with a diverse international community of scholars, policy-makers, diplomats, journalists, environmentalists, educators and many other professionals from different walks of life as well as graduate degree fellows from more than 53 countries. I will get to present some of the incredible conservation stories from India to an international community of people, and talk about the need and ways to protect my country’s unique natural heritage. I will get to choose and travel to a few specific environmental learning centers in Asia through a field study program that I can tailor for myself. I will join a dynamic network of 550 social change leaders from around the world through whom I can find national and international platforms to present my work as well as continue to learn from them. I will develop enhanced abilities to navigate scalability hurdles that will allow me to broaden the reach of my nature education programs in India.
Now, I need to meet my gap in finances to fund my field study and a part of my living expenses. Your last mile support
will be invaluable at this juncture in my career. Please help! I shall regularly keep you updated about my progress.