In the heart of Laikipia County, beautiful wildlife conservancies like the Mpala Research Centre are nearby Daraja’s campus.  Each year, Mpala hosts hundreds of researchers who focus on the wildlife and vegetation in the area. Daraja Academy prioritizes local partnerships, so Daraja students were eager to learn when Mpala hosted a “Women in Conservation” lecture series on campus last Wednesday.

The talk began as an opportunity for the girls to learn about Grevy zebras, the endangered of the two main types of zebras. They learned how to distinguish between the more common (plains) zebras and Grevys. In addition, researchers and presenters Elleni Stephanou and Michael Brown explained that there are only about 3,000 of these zebras left in the world, many of which reside only miles off Daraja’s campus at Mpala.

Emily, a recent Daraja graduate, completed her 6-week internship with Mpala and studied parasites in Grevy zebras. The girls’ eyes widened when Mpala reseachers told them how valuable Emily’s work was to the research project at hand and the protection of this endangered animal.

Next, Elleni, who grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, shared her story with the Daraja girls. During and after high school, Elleni traveled the country interning and doing research with various projects focusing on animals ranging from turtles on the coast to elephants at Mpala. As a role model and near age-mate to the girls, she shared some wisdom with them: “If there are things you want to do or love, don’t shy away because you are young. If you want to do it, you can do it.”

Michael gave advice to the students as well, “Work with the things that you love and follow your passions, that is the way to be happy.”

In WISH this term, Form 2’s (Sophomores) are learning about career choices. They will be looking within themselves all term to really discover where they want to go in their future and what kind of careers most interest them and would make them the happiest. Victoria, Principal and WISH teacher, reported after the Mpala lecture, “The message of that talk came in perfect timing for all the students, but especially the Form 2’s. We will definitely be discussing it in class.”

After a hearty applause and enthusiastic “thank you,” following the presentation by the Mpala researchers, Daraja students gave each visitor a tour of campus. Students and staff cherish local partnerships that enhance the curriculum in this way and hope to see Mpala researchers again soon!