GCC is a non-profit organization aiming to bridge the gap between communities and wildlife, founded by Matt Lindenberg 6 years ago. Their Future Rangers Programme engages students in rural schools to build their understanding of nature on a foundational level through focused learning and exposure via game drives and visits to wildlife reserves. Africa Foundation’s own conservation education programme, ECHO, was created in consultation with surrounding communities, educational bodies and andBeyond to expose school students living in rural communities to the importance of land and animal conservation. This collaboration will draw on the strengths of each respective conservation programme – the community buy-in and long-standing relationships Africa Foundation has built in communities over the last 28 years, and the technological innovation and conservation education expertise of GCC.
Matt founded GCC after the passing of a hugely influential mentor of his, Martin Mthembu, with the aim to carry on his legacy and his passion for conservation. In his life, Martin’s main focus was for local youth skills training and empowerment, and he became a gatekeeper to the natural heritage and knowledge that for many had been completely lost. To ensure that the leadership and influence provided by Martin was not lost either, GCC was founded with the mission of conserving wildlife through the education, development, and training of people – especially youth.
One of GCC’s most significant initiatives is the Future Rangers Programme, GCC believes that rangers are the ultimate stewards of the environment – they are individuals who care deeply about the wildlife and wild land surrounding them. Through the Future Rangers Program, GCC has been actively working in local schools on a weekly basis with a curriculum that builds students’ appreciation of nature from the age of five. As the student progresses through the program, GCC’s app tracks their progress, noting their work, activities, game drives, and safeguarding the information so they can use it to show to future employers or access further education in years to come.
The plan for 2021 is to see a joint development of conservation curriculum for schools, and to actively roll out this curriculum to as many communities as possible. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to spark a passion in school students that will one day lead to careers in conservation, and together working towards bridging the gap that has for so long existed between conservationists and communities living in or near to reserves.
GCC founder Matt Lindenberg knows how important this partnership is going to be to boost the Future Rangers Program: ‘Partnering with the Africa Foundation brings increased community buy-in, established trust, and a commitment to the needs of communities. With such a large footprint across 6 African countries, Africa Foundation and &Beyond have pioneered beneficial relationships between the conservation and social sectors for a long time.’
Here at Africa Foundation, we are just as excited to see where this partnership will lead, and what can be achieved together in the name of conservation. We are in awe of GCC for the incredible work that they already do in rural communities, and deeply thankful to have the chance to work with them now and into the future. ‘It’s an immense honour to be joining forces for the betterment of both humanity and wildlife’, says Lindenberg – and we couldn’t agree more.
GCC and Africa Foundation launching the high school environmental education curriculum in Mpumalanga (pre-COVID).