The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) provides participants with many opportunities to further themselves; the activities included in this programme can not only help them to develop specific skill sets which will improve their job prospects, but also to cultivate traits that can enhance many aspects of their personal lives. This is why people like Tunde Folawiyo continue to support these types of schemes. Tunde understands the importance of youth development, and likes to share his experiences about this subject on his Facebook page.
For a lot of participants, the volunteer work they undertake as part of this programme is often the most enjoyable, and the most life-changing aspect of their DofE experience. Whilst they can opt to complete this work in the UK, many choose to do it abroad. Wildlife conservation volunteer programmes are a particularly popular choice, which is why the DofE has established partnerships with several internationally-renowned companies that specialise in matching volunteers with conservation projects; an example of this would be is its collaboration with African Impact, an organisation which manages more than 80 projects across the continent of Africa.
One of its current wildlife conservation projects is based in South Africa, and focuses on the ‘Big 5′ (that is, the rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard and lion) which reside within a major game reserve there. The data collected on the resident creatures’ diets, behaviours and territories will help those running the reserve to protect these at-risk species in the future. Common activities include game count drives, research drives and conservation work. Another company which the DofE works will is Pod Volunteer, a non-profit which has won awards for its work. Like African Impact, this organisation arranges projects within game reserves, which require volunteers to conduct data collection on birds and the aforementioned ‘Big 5′, as well as to develop rhino identikits, remove alien plant species which might threaten the survival of native flora, and carry out herbivore transect drives.
Whilst completing one’s DofE volunteer activities in the UK can be just as fulfilling and enjoyable, there’s a lot to be said for taking part in wildlife conservation projects abroad. In addition to gaining a greater understanding of, and respect for the animals that reside in the reserves, volunteers also get a taste of a new culture, have the chance meet new people and of course, develop a whole host of important life skills which will benefit them for years to come.