An incredible week at the National Geographic Society



Mills Lab MS Student Tashi Dhendup recounts his recent trip to Washington D.C. to attend the National Geographic Young Explorer Leadership and Development Program:

Towards the end of august this year, I was in Washington D.C at the National Geographic Society headquarters attending the National Geographic Young Explorer Leadership and Development Program. I was lucky to be chosen as a part of the fifteen, the first cohort. Our group comprised of people from 11 countries and of professions ranging from conservation biologists to photojournalists and storytellers. They are an amazing bunch of inspirational people doing amazing works and I am glad to have found a lot of friends.


Enjoying the Solar Eclipse ©Hannah Morales

The week in the capital was basically an orientation for the yearlong leadership program. It was intensive but full of fun and learning. The weeklong orientation included leadership and public speaking training for the first two days, followed by storytelling, mentoring, blogging, grant writing, photography and use of social media for conservation purposes. In the evenings, we had dinners with influential people at the society and national geographic explorers. I was especially excited to be at the office of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor who was the founding president of the society.


During an intense class session ©Shivan Parusnath

One key component of the orientation was the launch of the mentoring program. Each young explorer was paired with an experienced national geographic explorer who would guide us in defining our life goals, at least for the year and help us build the necessary skills to realise those goals. While applying, I had expressed my love for photography and the need to do science that can make a difference, to bring people towards the side of conservation and luckily, I was given two mentors: Steve Winter who is an award-winning wildlife photographer and a storyteller and Luke Dollar who heads the Big Cat Initiative at the National Geographic. We have been constantly in touch over Emails and skype calls.

Over the next few months, I will be attending webinars and I will also be working with National Geographic Educators, doing professional exchanges with them and connecting with students through virtual hangouts.

The program will conclude next year in June 2018 at the Explorer Festival in Washington D.C.


Figure 4: Fighting for a piece of Jumbo Slice pizza ©Anusha Shankar

Feature Image: First class of the National Geographic Leadership and Development Program ©Kate Freshwater