GCC understands the relationship between conservation and education and aims to educate and inspire young people to develop a passion and love for wildlife. GCC’s Kate Vannelli, Future Rangers Program Director, was honored to be invited by National Geographic Education in partnership with Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants last December 2019 to speak to elementary students in the US and Canada in a virtual Explorer Classroom session.
December was Big Cat month for the Explorer Classroom and as Vannelli is a long-standing lover of cheetahs, it was befitting to have her as a speaker. A seasoned conservationist, she explained that she has always had a passion for big cats. She even showed the students a drawing of a cheetah she made when she was in first grade.
The human-wildlife conflict was also a subject of discussion during Vannelli’s presentation. She spoke about her experience working with orphaned cheetahs whose mothers had been victims of human-wildlife conflict, a common occurrence for predators who share space with farmland. During that time, she realized that education is important in making sure that these big cats aren’t driven to extinction.
The experience was fun for everyone and Vannelli was impressed by the children’s enthusiasm. “We got some good questions. The kids were very curious about cheetahs, especially how fast they can go, how many spots they have, etc. One child even asked if there was such a thing as an albino cheetah, which I have never been asked before,” shared Vannelli. (They do exist if ever you are curious!)
Like GCC, the main goal of National Geographic Education together with Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants is to inspire children to become scientists and conservationists. Through virtual presentations, young people have access to information from industry experts without having to leave their classroom. It was an honor for Vannelli to impart conservation knowledge to eager young people. The talk was as inspiring for the children as it was to the GCC team.