In Botswana, raising the next generation of eco stewards is a community effort. When it comes to teaching kids about protecting wildlife and natural resources, a unique nonprofit organization has taken up the cause and the program has touched the lives of over 2,000 children since 2004. Coaching for Conservation helps young children build self-esteem, develop teamwork skills, and learn the value of protecting the environment and the creatures with whom we share the planet. The organization employs an innovative method of teaching — using sports to get their vital  messages across.

Coaching for Conservation (C4C) is an effort of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BPCT), an organization founded by a husband and wife team nearly 20 years ago for the express purpose of protecting the large predators of Botswana. J.W. “Tico” McNutt and Lesley McNutt have worked side by side in Botswana for decades in preservation of wildlife, and Lesley spearheaded C4C in 2002 as a way to help the youth of Botswana build self-esteem, learn to engage socially, and develop an awareness of the environment in which they live and play.

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Team sports provides a “captive audience” for environmental messages, giving coaches opportunities to get children excited about the speed and agility of animals like cheetahs, for instance, as the youngsters test their own skills on the soccer field. The organization’s promo video (above) summarizes the aims of the program with this explanation: “By combining sports and an awareness of the incredible abilities of different animals, C4C teaches us self-respect, respect for one another, and respect for the environment and the wildlife we share this planet with.”

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In addition to teaching kids about protecting natural resources, the sports-driven activities also work to inspire self-confidence, redefine gender norms, and encourage teamwork. A variety of international, national, and local organizations have contributed to the program’s success, demonstrating an even bigger message to the children involved: cooperation between groups with different backgrounds is just as important as cooperating with members of your soccer team.

+ BPCT Coaching for Conservation

Images via Coaching for Conservation/Facebook