grantees » Olena Kovalenko

Olena Kovalenko, Ukraine

In developing countries like Ukraine, prioritizing economic growth can come at the expense of environmental or social wellbeing, thus there is high demand for skilled environmentalists willing to drive change. Fortunately, people like Olena are dedicated to working hard in the environmental sector to build a sustainable future for the nation. Since the beginning of her Bachelor’s studies, Olena showed a keen interest in sustainability and implementation of biodiversity conservation techniques. She followed her passion to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy in the Central European University in Hungary, and then eagerly returned to her home country of Ukraine to put her professional skills to use in environmental conservation and education.

Given Olena’s desire to constantly grow and improve as an environmental leader, she utilized her JWH Initiative grant to attend a course in Endangered Species Management through the Durrell Conservation Academy, which she says is “the best training I had in conservation”. The coursework helped expand Olena’s understanding of species and biodiversity, prioritization and planning for conservation action, application of GIS skills to environmental management, and working on cross disciplinary issues to achieve conservation results. Olena believes that the theoretical and practical knowledge she gained from the educational experience will be extremely useful in improving the projects and internal functions of her NGO. Furthermore, Olena says “I am looking forward to transferring my skills to my team, to the student environmental club that my NGO is advising, and to the network of conservation educators and practitioners in Ukraine”. Her desire to inspire others to grow and work for change is impressive, and is one of the many qualities that suggests Olena will make a big impact as an environmental leader.

Nominated by

Natalia Gozak:  Green Wave:  Ukraine.