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CCC Fellows Cohort 14 Training Retreat – A Jam-Packed Trip to Remember!

by Allison Brody and Roxie Stricker

CCC Fellows Cohort 14 at the Denver Zoo

Many of us learn collaborative practices in relatively ad hoc ways. With the Fellows program, we have the opportunity to intentionally design learning and skill-building opportunities in ways that complement and inform the experience of planning and implementing their projects.

Twelve Fellows from Cohort 14 traveled to Fort Collins for a week in April to participate in the Fellows training retreat. In addition to some intense time learning together, the week also included field trips and the chance for the Fellows to share their stories via presentations and panel discussions.

Chantsa speaking at the CCC special presentation

The week kicked off with a special presentation at Warner College: “Interwoven relationships: nurturing regional networks in Mexico & exploring traditional ecological knowledge transfer in Mongolia.” CCC Cohort 14 Fellows shared ideas for leveraging relationships to achieve long-term ecological and social impact. Dr. Kristen Lear from the Northeast Mexico Agave Restoration Network (Red de Restauración del Agave del Noreste de México) spoke about using collaborative regional restoration networks to address the decline of nectar-feeding bats, and WCNR alum Dr. Chantsallkham Jamsranjav (Chantsa) explored intergenerational Traditional Ecological Knowledge transfer to improve rangeland in rural Mongolia.

Day Two was busy!

Manoela Ebner Pinho feeding a giraffe

The Fellows traveled to the Denver Zoo to meet with Dr. Lynn Von Hagen, Regional Conservation Director – Africa (Field Conservation Department). Lynn shared Denver Zoo’s model for collaboration and stakeholder engagement and how Denver Zoo values these inclusive best practices, giving examples of successes and challenges in Peru and Kenya, and emphasized the importance of moving away from parachute conservation. After that, Cohort 14 took a zoo tour and fed a few giraffes. The zookeepers leading the giraffe-feeding tour were excited to meet all the Fellows, especially hearing from Narangerel Naranpurev (Nara) and Uuganbayar Ganbold about their wild herds of Tahki (Przewalski’s) horses – these herds originated from captive populations bred in zoos, including the Denver Zoo. Today, the Tahki have been reintroduced to several locations in the Asian steppe, including Hustai National Park, where our Fellows team is based! Stephanie Teodoro dos Santos, from the Brazil team, reflected that “I worked at a zoo for a while, so [feeding the giraffes] was a moment that brought me a lot of good memories.” 

Kristen Lear, Dr. Ana C. Ibarra-Macias, and Chantsa checking out the turtle exhibit
Tahki in Hustai National Park, Mongolia (photo by Uuganbayar Ganbold)

Back in Fort Collins, everyone gathered at Avogadro’s Number for a panel discussion – “People and Predator Perspectives: Navigating Coexistence Across Cultures” – attended by about 40 members of the public. This panel was co-hosted by the Center for Collaborative Conservation (CCC), The School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES), and the Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence (CHCC), and featured representatives of three Fellows teams discussing collaborative solutions for coexisting with carnivores.

Panel at Avogadro’s Number – pictured from left to right: Narangerel Naranpurev (Nara), Uuganbayer Ganbold, Bruna Lima Ferreira, Stephanie Teodoro dos Santos, Stuart Breck (of CHCC), Jenna Brager, and Juliana Benck Pasa(photo by Mireille Gonzalez)

The next three days were full of intense learning at the Tamasag Retreat Center.

Chantsa, Jenna, and Hope Radford (Cohort 13) at the Tamasag Retreat Center

This training intensive is organized around our Learning Modules:

  1. Introduction to Collaborative Conservation
  2. Engaging Stakeholders
  3. Managing the Process
  4. Achieving Conservation Impact
  5. Telling the Story

Guest speakers covered stakeholder analysis (Dr. John Sanderson), leadership (Dr. Brett Bruyere), Indigenous Engagement (Gemara Gifford), and project planning (Dr. Anthony Salvagno).

Fellow Jenna Brager shared: “I really enjoyed all the skill-building. I think I’m in a much better position to collaborate with others on conservation projects, be a better listener, deal with conflict in constructive ways. I really enjoyed Gem‘s presentation on tribal engagement. It left me with a lot of food for thought.”

“One aspect that stood out to me was the emphasis on fostering partnerships and cooperation among various stakeholders. Through interactive sessions and case studies, the training demonstrated how collaborative approaches can lead to more effective conservation outcomes. The training also provided practical strategies for building trust, facilitating communication, and navigating conflicts within collaborative initiatives.”

Uuganbayar Ganbold

Here are some of the resources we employed during the training. You can find these and more on our “How-To” page!

Brazil team working on project planning
CCC Fellows Cohort 14 co-learning together
CCC Fellows out on the town!

While the days were full of learning, it was broken up by nights on the town. Fellows attended the Center for Human Carnivore Coexistence’s Handprint Challenge, enjoyed CCC’s Spring Social, and explored Old Town Fort Collins under the twinkling string lights. After a day off to rest (and for some, a tour of CSU campus with Warner College Dean, Dr. Alonso Aguirre), it was field trip time!

Field Trip to North Park

North Park ranchers showing their livelihoods to the CCC Fellows

On April 22, in partnership with the Center for Human Carnivore Coexistence (CHCC), we brought Cohort 14 Fellows to meet ranchers living and working in the North Park area of Colorado. First, we toured a working ranch, then had a structured conversation over lunch with four local ranchers. This deepened our understanding of what it is like to make a living on the land while living with predators. We gained empathy and a more nuanced understanding of co-existence issues, which will help us to co-create approaches and solutions with communities across the globe. Stephanie shared what surprised her about meeting the ranchers: “they came together to talk openly with us. It was something very cool and I think that, despite the differences in opinions, it was a constructive conversation (for our reality of hunting wild animals mainly) and respectful. Not that we face disrespect in our actions, but being able to discover another reality was something fantastic.”

Lunch conversations

After the field trip, I asked the Fellows riding in the van to reflect back on their week. Here are a few things they said:

The retreat was about “Co-learning, Connecting, Collaborating, and Conservation … these are critical elements of our projects,” (Dr. Chantsallkham Jamsranjav). Dr. Ana C. Ibarra-Macias reflected that the retreat was about “connections not just among the fellows, but also to past cohorts and also to all the presenters.” This means the Fellows feel they can “reach out and ask for help or just talk about something.” In addition to these connections, they pointed out the importance of building and practicing skills. The retreat also gave the Fellows time to fine-tune their project plans, improving their “project’s feasibility.”  

This quote from Jenna really resonates with me:

“I think my heart is most full from the connections amongst our Fellows group. It is so inspiring to be with motivated conservationists from around the world working on difficult issues, demonstrating commitment and passion together.”

Jenna Brager

Carnivore paws for the camera!

You can read about the Brazil team’s experience in Portuguese here, and learn more about Cohort 14 on our Fellows Cohort 14 page!