My desire to follow my passion in Natural Sciences began at a tenderage. This was exhibited in my excellent performance in the sciences andgeography, coupled with practical engagement in nature-oriented field activities, exhibitions, presentations, and studies. In Maseno School, where I did my secondary education, I dominated science congress competitions all the way to the national stage. These inspired me to pursue natural resources management. In 2002, I was admitted to Egerton University to study Natural Resources Management. Egerton University shaped my life and world view about conservation and management of natural resources.
I joined the Youth Wildlife and Environmental Movement (YWEM) Egerton Chapter in my first year. When elections came for the YWEM leadership in October 2002, I vied for the post of Deputy Director and won. During the tenure of our new team, we revamped the movement. I led in organisind the annual youth Environment Symposium (YES), where we invited high-profile guests from UNEP, Government Agencies, and Departments to speak to members.
I coordinated and rallied students to participate in the Annual Egerton University Conservation Week. The event brought together several stakeholders in efforts to conserve the Mau Forest. It gave me a chance to interact with many dignitaries acrossthe globe. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof.Ezra Maritim, was very supportive of the programme and exposed us tothe programme and exposed us to numerous partners, both in the private sector and the academia. When I was later elected as the Director of YWEM, it became the norm that the VC wouldrely on our input when planning and executing environmental and natural resources management activities in theUniversity.
I led the student team to the Annual East African Environment Network (EAEN) Conference for four consecutive years, among other notable events and activities. I also led the most comprehensive tree name tagging ever done in the University.
My aspiration to reach out to many youths and prospective students to join Natural Science courses inspired me to register a community organisation in my home District (Siaya) in 2003, while I was a second-year student. Thus, in April 2003, Tembea Youth Centre for Sustainable Development (Tembea) was established. The organisation would be my employer for seven years after my graduation from Egerton University in 2007. It played a significant role in incubating and nurturing my skills and innovations towards conservation. Whereas I was a nardent natural resources management student, my first experience and interaction with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) came when I learnt about the GIS Day during the long holidays of May – December 2004.
As the Director of my young organisation, I was invited by Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) to a meeting to coordinate and host the November 2004 GIS Day. I took a lot of interest in the application during the period. We were led by one illustrious woman called M'Lis FLin from Australia who had come to volunteer with UCRC at the time. She inspired me to follow the dream of applying GIS and RS in Natural Resources Management.
I realised that GIS was very instrumental in the course I was instrumental in the course I was studying at the University. In January 2005 when we resumed our studies, I was burning with passion to share with my student colleagues and our faculty dean, Prof. Francis Lelo, about GIS. I impressed upon the Dean theimportance of GIS and RS for our class and our course. I shared with him the CDs with demos showing how to manipulate geographical data and its application in natural resources management. In short, we needed a unit on GIS and RS to be included in ourcurriculum.
Unfortunately, our cohort did not succeed to get the unit taught to us. But I am happy to report that out of the pressure and efforts, subsequent cohorts benefited. However, at a personal level, I became a private student of Prof. Japheth O. Onyando, who took me through the basics of geoinformation science and earth observations. It is Prof. Onyando and later Mr Samuel Akeyo Ojode who taught us photogrammetry where I first heard about the ITC's Faculty of Geoinformation Science and Earth Observations in the Netherlands.
My first attempt to join the ITC Faculty of Geoinformation Science was in 2009. I made two other subsequent unsuccessful attempts and gave up. However, in October 2012, a ray of hope beamed at the end of the tunnel. I successfully NUFFIC scholarship for a Certificate International Short Course in Adaptive Management for Natural Resources Management : Supporting Decentralised Forest and Nature Management for Rural Development under the auspices of the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen University of Research (Netherlands) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in Ghana.
During the course, I shared my scholarship application frustrations with the Course Director – Dr Nico Rozemeijer, a jovial fellow. He encouraged me to try again and gave me some insights. The NUFFIC had just opened the system for applications running through to 15 March 2013. This time, I was placed on a provisional list of prospective scholarship recipients. I was so excited when a confirmation came in July 2013 that I had been selected. This was a shot in the arm, two successive scholarships from NUFFIC!
Life at ITC, the Netherlands, was such a wonder. A rigorous academic programme, lovely people, delicious food, people riding cycles of all shapes and forms, a host of international students, seasoned lecturers and professors from all Ivy League Universities and Institutions – adorned in a cocktail of characters and personalities – lovely, humble, compassionate, enthusiastic and strict in the same measure.
Upon my return in March 2015, my desire was to put my professional skills into practice. I must appreciate and acknowledge the effort that the Dutch Embassy in Kenya has made to enhance the careers of its NUFFIC recipients alumni network.
Professionally, I have had the honour to support, as a consultant, European Union-funded projects in the rangelands under various organisations in the region and across Africa. I serve in school boards and offer my professional services through Leaf Magnet Research and Development Ltd. I currently serve as a Regional Delivery Director, President's Delivery Unit in the Executive Office of the President of Kenya.
Mr. Jared Omondi Buoga