Inspiring Conservation Leadership Among East African Youth

Children from Ecole Primaire Saint Joseph recycling plastic and juice boxes to make upcycled Ankara box cases after watching Team Sayari episode on Oceans Vs. Plastics.

Last year WildlifeDirect rolled out the Nature Positive Kids Outreach Program that aims to inspire and catalyze behavioral change that will have a lasting impact on the conservation of species-rich landscapes and generate meaningful economic development opportunities for communities in East Africa. The program is an extension of the National Geographic’s Team Sayari educational entertainment Program which is funded by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The program is targeting 10,000 children aged 7-12 years old in 200 schools in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. The Nature Positive Kids Outreach Program is designed to educate and engage children and communities about the importance of protecting and conserving the natural environment. Through a series of outreach screening events, workshops, and nature based activities, the initiative aims to encourage a more sustainable and responsible approach to environmental stewardship.

A student from Kilifi County planting a tree at the Oceans Alive Foundation premises

Complementing the outreach is Team Sayari a 22 minutes 20-part television series being aired across Africa on National Geographic Wild and Disney Channel. It is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), The Walt Disney Company Africa and WildlifeDirect. With a goal to inspire meaningful, impactful behavioural change in young viewers across the continent and create the next generation of environmental conservation leaders, Team Sayari now moves from the small screen and schools and communities in East Africa with the Nature Positive Kids Outreach Program.

Through the program, children are learning about the importance of conserving the environment that they live in and the critical role that they can play in protecting it. They are also learning about the wide range of career opportunities available in conservation, inspiring them to consider these paths and become conservation leaders themselves.

Team Sayari’s impact has been significant, inspiring and educating viewers across East Africa and beyond. The show is airing on National Geographic Wild TV channel and is also being screened at 4 conservation hubs in Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. WildlifeDirect has conducted 65 screenings of 14 episodes of Team Sayari reaching 3,822 children. The program’s mission is to foster a deep love and appreciation for nature in young people, encouraging them to become active participants in conservation efforts.

One of the unique features of Team Sayari is its focus on the people working to protect the natural world. The show follows a team of rangers, researchers, and conservationists as they work tirelessly to preserve Africa’s biodiversity. Through their stories, viewers are introduced to the challenges and triumphs of conservation work, gaining a greater appreciation for the efforts made to protect our planet’s precious resources.

Loiborsiret primary school students conducting a clean up of a stream that is the main source of water in Loiborsiret village in Tanzania.

The impact of the program has been significant, with many children inspired to take action after watching the show. Some have expressed a desire to visit the parks featured in the program, while others have started their conservation initiatives in their communities. Many have also shared what they have learned with their friends and families, raising awareness and spreading the message of conservation even further.

In Rwanda, one school has started recycling plastic and juice boxes making upcycled cases using Ankara after watching the episode on Oceans Vs. Plastic.

Teachers from Mathare Legacy in Kenya have noted increased awareness on conservation issues, they also noted that the school is cleaner and the children want to engage more in keeping their environment clean. After watching the episode on Animal Highways, children from a school in Kilifi County in Kenya have asked to be shown how to make bridges so that they can help the monkeys in their village. They have seen the monkeys trying to cross roads and thought this would be a good idea. Overall, this program has been a game-changer for nature-based programming in East Africa and beyond. The impact on young people, communities, policymakers, and the production industry is a testament to the power of engaging storytelling and the importance of conservation efforts. As the show continues to reach new audiences, it will undoubtedly inspire even more individuals to become active participants in protecting our planet’s precious resources.

WildlifeDirect extends our sincere heartfelt gratitude to the U.S. Department of State, State U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), The Walt Disney Company and National Geographic without who this program would not have been made possible. We also want to thank our conservation partners; the African People and Wildlife, Oceans Alive Foundation and Prime Biodiversity Conservation who have been on the ground to ensure that schools across East Africa get the content and make a difference in their communities.

For more information, please reach out to:

Trish Sewe, Chief of Party