I have dedicated my career to primate conservation, with a special emphasis on education, and worked in great ape range countries, such as Uganda, Borneo, Rwanda, and the DRC. I also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal for over two years, where I designed and managed an education and outreach project on chimpanzees. Currently, I teach conservation workshops at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Throughout my career, I saw my colleagues in primate education consistently encounter similar problems: a lack of expertise, resources, and collaboration...just to name a few.
Drawing from my personal experience and the challenges I observed others facing, I envisioned a network that would advance the field of primate conservation education and address three needs of great ape and other primate educators: connections, resources, and training. It was this vision that led me to the idea of creating the Primate Education Network (PEN), a global network dedicated to connecting and empowering primate conservation educators.
I conducted informational interviews and sent an online survey to thousands of professionals, which verified that there was a need and desire for PEN. In August, I presented my ideas for the network and the survey results at the International Primatological Society Congress in Cancun, Mexico and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
PEN will fulfill a niche by becoming a one-stop-shop for all things primate education. The network will address the needs of primate educators by providing connections, resources, and training.
PEN will provide opportunities for educators to connect and build relationships online and offline. Using open-source technology frameworks like Drupal, Ushahidi, and Frontline SMS, PEN will easily establish a platform for collaboration. Much like LinkedIn, PEN will serve as a professional network for experts and novices alike in primate education. The network will encourage educators to share ideas, lessons learned, best practices, and offer a unique opportunity to improve and standardize methodologies and approaches across primate field sites to avoid reinventing the wheel.
The website is positioned to be the only online resource that will provide curated content and verified resources in primate education. It will showcase education projects and include great ape and other primate-themed forums and webinars, educator trainings, video lessons on YouTube/Vimeo, and mobile games and SMS subscriptions. It will also include Voices from the Field – spotlights of successful primate conservation educators.
PEN will provide training to on how to fund, design, train, implement, and evaluate primate conservation education projects. Training will include teaching primate educators about how to use basic technology tools, including Google Docs and Ushahidi, which already exist on the market. PEN will deliver training programs on survey methodologies, surveying technology tools, and data analysis. As a result, the network will build the capacity of educators by providing the assistance needed to carry out successful education projects, resulting in better protection of primates and their natural habitats globally.
Amy Clanin, Founder and Executive Director
This post was submitted to the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) for their Technology Blog Competition to win an all-expenses paid trip to the 2nd GRASP Council in Paris this November.