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Professional Development Grants




EFN has awarded more than 800 grants to mid-career professionals to build local capacity in their home countries

Professional Development Grants (PDGs) provide support for mid-career conservationists to pursue short-term, non-degree training to upgrade their knowledge and skills through short courses, workshops, symposiums, conferences (if presenting), and professional exchanges.

PDGs support training-related costs, including registration fees and tuition, meals and accommodations, books and materials, international travel, visa fees, and local transportation. Training may take place anywhere in the world and applicants can request up to $6,500.

 Click here for guidelines, eligibility, and how to apply for these grant opportunities.

Additional Opportunities

EFN is currently offering a special opportunity for female conservationists working in the Congo Basin. Click here for more information.

EFN Grantee and Conservationist Walks for Elephants in Kenya

EFN grantee Jim Nyamu is working to raise awareness of threats to elephants by walking more than 650 miles from Massai Mara to Nairobi on a campaign called Ivory Belongs to Elephants.

Elephants play fight in Kenya

Why It Matters

  • Professional Development Grants

    Professional Development Grants provide support for mid-career conservationists to pursue short-term, non-degree training to upgrade their knowledge and skills. These grants provide the tools necessary for professionals to advance in their careers and improve local capacity in their home countries. EFN has supported more than 800 deserving mid-career professionals that are dedicated to conserving critical natural resources, advancing policy, and educating local communities on conservation issues important to advancing WWF's mission.

  • Russell E. Train Fellowships

    Russell E. Train Fellowships support individuals pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in conservation. Today’s conservation challenges are more complex than ever before and require advanced skills and knowledge to tackle pressing issues from climate change and deforestation to wildlife crime and rights-based fisheries management. EFN program provides fellowships to rising leaders to address these global challenges. To date, more than 90 percent of EFN fellows are working to advance conservation efforts in their home countries.

  • Conservation Workshop Grants

    Conservation Workshop Grants help organizations conduct training workshops to build local capacity. These grants support training courses and workshops in WWF priority places on topics of importance for local and regional conservation efforts. Workshops grants are essential to building local capacity in vulnerable communities and improving conservation efforts at a local and national scale.

  • Alumni Grants

    Alumni Grants support ongoing education, training, and research opportunities for former Russell E. Train Fellows, Russell E. Train Scholars, and Professional Development Grant recipients who have completed the terms of their WWF grant contract and meet all of the eligibility criteria necessary to be considered for a grant.

  • Reforestation Grants

    Reforestation Grants support local organizations engaged in reforestation projects throughout the tropics. When carefully planned, forest restoration activities can provide environmental services to the local community and develop new habitats in formerly bare areas. These grants support activities that aim to regain ecological integrity and enhance human wellbeing in deforested or degraded forest landscapes.

What WWF Is Doing

"Since 1994, EFN has provided funding opportunities to conservationatists in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In 1996, EFN began offering PDGs which are specifically targeted towards mid-career conservation professionals and aim to increase skills and knowledge of these individuals. These grants are not only offered to benefit the recipient, but to help build institutional capacity at a local and regional level."


Proven Results

In 2011, EFN conducted a survey of PDG recipients to measure the impact of the short-term grant program. The results noted in this section are examples of what WWF is doing to improve local conservation capacity in the places important to achieving WWF's mission to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.

New EFN Logo

Building local capacity for WWF's work



of PDG recipients are hired by WWF after completing their training.

EFN is committed to advancing WWF’s goals at a local and regional level. PDGs serve as a capacity building tool for local stakeholders and partners as well as WWF field staff working in WWF priority places. Although most PDG recipients are not directly affiliated with WWF, supporting non-WWF is extremely important to field projects and, after receiving their grants, about 10 percent of PDGs become WWF employees. Along with feedback from the WWF program staff, EFN supports eligible conservationists from around the world to attend courses and conferences that advance WWF’s work.

Providing Critical Funds for local conservationists

Many conservationists from local and regional organizations find it difficult to get funding to attending courses that can help enhance their work and improve their skill set. Based on grantee feedback, EFN PDGs cover more than 70 percent of course or conference attendance costs which can include travel, tuition, and material expenses. 85 percent of PDG recipients report that they would not have been able to pursue the training course or conference opportunity without their awards. EFN funding is essential to improving local capacity and giving deserving conservationists the opportunity to obtain new skills and explore important professional opportunities.

Developing Institutional Capacity



are working at a higher position since receiving their EFN grant.

An important part of EFN’s mission is to build institutional capacity. All PDG applicants have the support of their organization to obtain these essential skills and be guaranteed continual employment upon return from the course. EFN knows that building capacity is not enough; employment opportunities are also a critical part of building momentum behind conservation initiatives. By integrating institutional needs within the application process, EFN hopes to create this connection by funding individuals while also supporting larger institutional capacity needs. 75 percent of grantees continue working for the same institution after completing their program and more than 57 percent report being promoted or moving to a high-level position since receiving their grant.

Multiply EFN's Impact

EFN is extremely proud of the multiplier effect these small grants can have in the field of conservation in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. From the responses of 32 percent of all PDG recipients, these grantees are supervising some 1,344 staff, managing nearly $4 million in funds, and training more than 3,400 people per year.

I benefited from the Russell E Train program in 2001 when I was sponsored to attend the Envirovet program for veterinarians. This program strengthened my talents as a wildlife veterinarian… the skills paved my way to being employed in my nation's Wildlife Authority mandated to protect and manage the wildlife heritage in my country.

Dr. Margaret Driciru Senior Warden/Wildlife Veterinarian, Uganda Wildlife Authority


  • Mr. Russell E. Train and Education for Nature (EFN)

    Remembering Mr. Russell E. Train, founder, past president, and past chairman emeritus passed away on September 17, 2012 at the age of 92.

  • Photos from Camera Traps in Ecuador

    In 2006, Ecuadorian conservationist Santiago Espinosa received a Russell E. Train Fellowship from WWF’s Education for Nature Program (EFN) to conduct research in wildlife ecology. Santiago’s research involved spending long periods of time in the Amazonian rainforest. He captured photos that highlight the spectacular wildlife that lives in Yasuní National Park.