Each year, 18 entrepreneurial practitioners are provided a unique fellowship opportunity to spend one month in residence as Kinship Conservation Fellows at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Established in 2001, Kinship’s mission is to develop a community of leaders dedicated to collaborative approaches to environmental issues with an emphasis on market-based principles. Kinship invests in fellows by awarding them a one-month curriculum lead by a faculty of global conservation experts in addition to housing and a $6,000 stipend. To apply, each fellow must be working on a project using a market-based approach to conservation. The fellowship includes two key components. The first component is a month-long training program with an expert panel of instructors who are experienced practitioners in conservation. The unique curriculum emphasizes case studies to help fellows discover new solutions to real life challenges. The second component is the community that fellows join. The mission of the program is to build a network of people who can support each other long-term. The Kinship Foundation not only invests in each individual but also invests in gatherings of “affinity groups” on an ongoing basis to help to keep the network connected. These affinity groups develop around specific subject matters such as sustainable business or marine conservation. Kinship’s global network now includes 191 Fellows in 47 countries and 6 continents.
When Jos Hill applied to the Kinship Conservation Fellows she was Director of Asia Pacific Programs at Olazul, an organization that develops market-based solutions to satisfy the demand for ocean goods normally produced by destructive methods. We caught up with Jos to learn about the fellowship and her tips for the application process.
1. What inspired you to apply to the Kinship Conservation Fellows program?
I am trained in marine science and natural resource management. I founded my first NGO in Australia in 2001 to engage citizens in coral reef monitoring and conservation in Australia. My experience was that most people working in marine conservation are trained first as scientists. There is a lack of people with business and economic skills, something I think is sorely needed. I moved to San Francisco and completed Presidio Graduate School’s MBA in Sustainable Business and then began to work with a non-profit called Olazul. Our goal is to design sustainable ocean livelihoods and establish social ventures to bring sustainable ocean products to market. I am now beginning a program working on the marine aquarium trade.
I decided to apply to Kinship because I wanted to understand where the field of “market based conservation” is at, and be exposed to a variety of examples of this type of work through the curriculum and through the projects of other fellows. Also, I wanted to build my network of conservation practitioners interested and experienced with market-based conservation. My new program is in the design phase and I wanted an opportunity to think and work through the design of my program with the support of experts before I get deep into it.
2. What are the benefits of the fellowship?
First, the network. We not only networked with 17 other fellows, but the program brought in 1-2 new instructors each day. These folks are experienced practitioners from a range of different organizations doing groundbreaking work using markets and economic incentives to enable conservation. The curriculum included a variety of case studies about different incentive-based conservation programs implemented at a range of scales. Each fellow brings a market-based conservation project they are working on with them, so we get group time to help each other with our projects as well as an opportunity to reflect on our own experience as we move through the curriculum.
For me, I already had training and experience with basic economics and concepts around incentive design, but I got a lot out of the formal training around program design, the numerous case studies about different market-based programs, and the coursework on leadership and collaboration. Everyone benefited from the amazing network of people we were interacting with. With regards to my career, I feel I have furthered my skills, improved my network and boosted my confidence. It’s an amazing program and I encourage market-based conservation practitioners to apply.
3. What tips would you give others applying to the Kinship Conservation Fellows?
Kinship is looking for mid-career professionals who are applying markets and incentives to enable them to create conservation outcomes that can be scaled. Those early in their career should wait a few years before applying. Applicants can already be working on a project or they can be planning one. The application process is quite simple but the Foundation dissects the applications with a fine tooth comb. There is no interview process so make sure you articulate your case well in the short application form. Think about how to be engaging with your language and get a peer to read your application over for you. Kinship welcomes applicants from all around the world. They provide a stipend of US$6,000 to all Fellows, however Fellows are responsible for their travel to and from Bellingham.
The next cohort will take place from June 29-July 30, 2014 in Bellingham, WA. The deadline to apply is January 27, 2014.
Jos Hill is a marine ecologist and entrepreneur with over ten years of international practice in the field of conservation and is currently the Director of Asia Pacific Programs for Olazu. Jos is part of the 2013 Kinship Conservation Fellows cohort and is also a two-time Packard Environment Fellow. While living in Australia she founded Reef Check Foundation Limited, an award-winning non-profit that engages the general public in coral reef monitoring and education. Jos holds a Masters of Applied Science in Natural Resource Management from James Cook University, Australia and an MBA in Sustainable Business from Presidio Graduate School, USA.
© Victoria Johnson 2013, all rights reserved