Virginia Tech college students come to Botswana virtually yearly to take part in Alexander’s eight-week area course, Wildlife Well being Immersion in Africa: Seize, Rehabilitation, and Forensics. Moreover, quite a few professors and graduate college students have used the CARACAL facility to conduct analysis within the area.
Alexander has additionally introduced African American highschool college students to Botswana to work with native college students and researchers whereas studying about wildlife conservation efforts in Africa. With funding from a Nationwide Science Basis grant aimed toward encouraging minority pupil participation within the organic sciences, Alexander expects to host a 3rd group of highschool college students at CARACAL this 12 months.
“If a pupil has solely ever been in a classroom, how do they know the place they need to go subsequent?” mentioned Alexander. “An expertise like this one is effective in that it helps college students reply that query extra successfully whereas recognizing the significance of service.”
In Botswana, Alexander based the Virginia Tech/CARACAL Group Environmental Educators Program, a joint initiative which trains younger folks throughout 13 faculties within the district to work as environmental educators and current on wildlife analysis and public well being initiatives to native main faculties. She additionally launched a Wildlife Ambassadors Program to encourage younger college students to be environmental advocates of their faculties, encouraging management in conservation.
“We are able to create a brand new tradition of conservation by permitting younger folks to have energy and a management function in environmental advocacy,” Alexander mentioned. “We have to remodel the tutorial course of and permit confidence to be constructed alongside information if we’re going to understand true variety within the sciences.”
Bringing a One Well being perspective to conservation challenges
Alexander’s work in Botswana is grounded within the One Well being idea, which goals to combine a number of disciplines working regionally, nationally, and globally to achieve optimum well being for folks, animals, and the surroundings.
“Dr. Alexander’s work with authorities and neighborhood leaders in Botswana is unparalleled,” mentioned Guru Ghosh, vice chairman for Outreach and Worldwide Affairs. “Her examine overseas packages and analysis tasks have allowed college students to be taught that analysis and training within the growing world are complicated and multifactorial. She is getting ready the subsequent technology of citizen scientists to embrace and thrive in a fancy and globally interdependent world.”
For Alexander, the connection between the analysis that scientists do and the ways in which information has the facility to alter lives and remodel the world is essential to the connection between Virginia Tech and Botswana.
“The Ut Prosim (That I Could Serve) mandate actually speaks to me,” Alexander mentioned. “By this system in Botswana, Virginia Tech college students and college are in a position to collaborate on and contribute to the numerous challenges confronting the worldwide panorama.”
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