Friday, March 26, 2010

Attendance report for the 11th Student Conference on Conservation Science 23-25 March, 2010 University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK

Ex-staff member for GVI Costa Rica, Diogo Veríssimo, attended The Student Conference on Conservation Science in Cambridge this week to present work completed by GVI Costa Rica. Diogo has remained in contact with GVI since leaving to pursue his PhD through the GVI Ambassador Program.

As a reward for taking time to spread the good word of GVI Costa Rica, his attended at the conference was funded through the Ambassador Program. He was presenting work that outlines how GVI volunteers really fo make a difference in the research and conservation they do while volunteering with us. Here's more about the conference in his own words:

The Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) is a unique event designed as a prime networking space for students working in conservation from all over the world. This year, the SCCS received more than 150 students, from 54 countries, and professionals from more than 40 conservation agencies and NGO’s.

During the conference, I interacted with a large number of delegates and professionals and had the opportunity to talk extensively about the role and aims GVI. Regarding the research presented, the 11th SCCS had four Poster Sessions; intervals of up to one hour and a half specifically designated for delegates to examine the almost 90 posters on display. Despite though competition the poster designed by myself, Sara Calçada and David Aneurin Jones received a great deal of attention.

During the poster sessions, I had a chance to discuss the poster with more than 30 conference delegates. Moreover, about 20 A4 sized copies of the poster and several business cards were distributed. This lead to informative discussions about GVI, the research presented and the impact of volunteering for conservation in developing countries with a number of delegates approaching me outside the poster sessions.

The majority of the delegates that approached me were surprised to see the extent to which GVI is supporting research and the impact GVI has on the ground. I was also able to explain the role and aims of GVI and drive home the idea that having paying volunteers pay to work is an effective way to transfer economic resources from developed to developing countries. Furthermore, many delegates were impressed to hear that GVI Costa Rica is working to get this research published in the peer review literature. Delegates, especially those with an academic background felt that although organisations such as GVI do collect large amounts of data, nothing was coming out of this work and as such, the contribution to the scientific community was small.

Finally several of the delegates expressed an interested in pursuing a career with GVI and I directed them to the website and blog both of which were in the A4 poster copies available at the conference.

From a personal point of view, this was a rewarding professional experience that allowed me to make many contacts amongst conservation practitioners and academics. I am thankful for having received the possibility to attend the 11th SCCS.

Diogo Veríssimo