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Xoli Fuyani is an Environmental Education Project Manager at Earthchild Project. She manages their EE programme, developing the curriculum and training facilitators to implement the programmes. Her background is in environmental education, which aims to educate the public about nature and environmental issues, work with the youth to raise awareness of environmental issues, and inspire people to live sustainability.

Keen on a career in environmental education? Then get comfy as Xoli tells Go Hustle all about the journey…

 

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First, get that green education

“Aspiring environmental educators can earn a bachelor degree in environmental science, education, conservation or a related area,” says Xoli. “You can start gaining experience by volunteering for a conservation organisation or parks, or start your own community group focusing on an environmental cause that’s close to your heart. Rhodes University is the leading institute in environmental education.”

Then find your niche…

Xoli says it’s important to know what sets you apart and makes you unique. “Are you a good facilitator? Perhaps a researcher? It’s very important to know your niche so you can use it as your selling point. Don’t wait until you graduate – find volunteer work and start your own community initiative. That experience comes in handy when applying for internships. Don’t limit your search locally – there are a number of international organisations offering fellowship and ambassador programmes,” she says.

 

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Securing that bag: internships

Organisations such as Greenpeace, Sanparks, WWF and Two Oceans Aquarium are some organisations to keep an eye on, as they usually share when they have internships available.

READ MORE: “Don’t Be Afraid To Be Your Own Type Of Female Leader”

The world had stereotyped environmentalists as white, educated and middle class

“While I personally have not experienced any challenges, I have heard stories of young black women suffering from gender, age and racial discrimination. Growth is limited and one has to diversify one’s skill set – through studying other courses, adding project management and training etc,” says Xoli.

The lack of diversity was particularly striking when Xoli witnessed young black youth in conservation being shut down and asked why they chose conservation.

She builds on the difficulties of perspective, and comments on additional age issues: “How environmental issues are framed and approached lacked a diversity perspective. I also needed to work and train teachers who were the same age as my mom. I had a lot of insecurities about what I knew just based on the age [difference],” she says.

 

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Remind yourself of your worth and capabilities

Xoli had a mentor who reminded her of her worth and capabilities every day. “She helped me change the narrative and see that the groups that are the most concerned about environmental problems… are disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution and degradation. I also built my self- awareness and made sure I was being fulfilled and finding meaning/purpose in other areas of my life,” she says.

Xoli learnt to find balance. “Most importantly, every day I was reminded that I was skilled and had the knowledge to do my job.”

Leadership lessons for future generations…

1/ “If you lead (with them), they will follow. Humble yourself and let your higher purpose be your drive. Remember, in 99% of situations, people are looking for selfless leaders,” says Xoli.

2/ “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Always prioritise time to replenish energy. Remember there’s only one of you on this planet, so small personal self-care rituals can act as a reminder that you count too. The more we give to ourselves, the more we allow ourselves to take better care of others,” she says.

Connect with Xoli

Instagram: xoli_fuyani

Twitter: XoliF

Facebook: Xoli Fuyani

LinkedIn: Xoli Fuyani

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