Cape Town - World Wildlife Fund South Africa celebrated the success of their latest group of environmental interns who were selected to partake in their Environmental Leaders Graduate Internship Programme at a special valedictory event in Cape Town on Thursday evening.
The programme was initiated to develop diverse leadership skills for the environment, as a result of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) and the Department of Environment Affairs’ skills audit in 2010, which identified that diverse environmental skills were in crisis.
The 12-month internship programme addressed skills in high demand, with internships ranging from traditional green occupations like park ranger and ecologist, to emerging areas of specialisation such as the environmental economists, environmental engineers and architects designing green buildings.
These 25 interns were selected from among 1 584 applications across all universities in South Africa, with skills ranging from sustainable agriculture to climate science to taxonomy.
“WWF’s graduate internships provide a practical and paid bridging experience for new graduates to gain valuable work experience and training, and to connect into professional networks to establish their careers for the environment,” said WWF SA organisational performance lead, Glenda Raven.
Interns from previous years have gone on to work in positions such as the Environmental Officer at Department of Environmental Affairs, Oceans and Coasts Senior Climate Advocacy Advisor at WWF International, and an attorney and programme head at the Centre For Environmental Rights.
Raven said three interns were already in full-time employment and one was awarded a scholarship at Oxford University during the course of his internship.
Intern Kalpana Maraj said the programme was an invaluable experience that she would carry through the rest of her career.
“I am an intern based at The Green House, a sustainability consulting firm in Cape Town, and I have had the opportunity to contribute to projects focusing on climate change, sustainability strategies and policy reform,” said Maraj.
The programme also received long-standing support from organisations such as SANParks and Sanbi.
Sanbi training and development deputy director Rene du Toit said, “ This programme is instrumental in shaping the sector’s future leaders. We thank WWF-SA for including Sanbi in their programme and look forward to continued collaborations on human capital development initiatives.”