In Toliara, southwest Madagascar, on the 28th of April 2011, the IHSM (Institut Halieuteque et des Sciences Marines) successfully played host to the first meeting for all students supported by the “Roger Samba – J Paul Getty” fellowship programme. As well as the students from the years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, attendees included Mr Samber Roger (winner of the Leadership in Conservation award, 2008), Shawn Peabody (Blue Ventures Conservation Coordinator), Jacqueline Razanoelisoa (head of the training department at the IHSM), and Gaetan Tovondrainy (WWF Project Coordinator in southwest Madagascar).
The meeting was held in order to assess the Scholars’ progress in terms of research and academic achievement whilst also acting as an opportunity for the committee and students to meet and exchange experiences. Mr. Roger took the floor to encourage the students to take an active interest in natural resource management, expressing his hope that these students will follow in his footsteps to become conservation leaders in Madagascar.
The grantees expressed their gratitude towards the “Roger Samba & J. Paul Getty” scholarship programme and WWF/US through EFN (Education For Nature), affirming that it has been a great help to them, providing them with the financial stability to pursue their academic aspirations.
As a result of this meeting, the students decided to set up a Facebook Group in order to facilitate knowledge and experience sharing between them, and also simply to help them keep in touch. In light of their collective academic success (100% of current undergraduate scholars (2009-2010) graduated to the second level of academic courses at the IHSM marine institute at Toliara University), largely made possible by the Samba-Getty programme, the students have suggested that where possible, more students should be supported by the programme with the long term objective of increasing the number of Malagasy conservationists to ultimately help achieve sustainable natural resource management in Madagascar.