Meet the team
Nsasani’s founding members have a proven track record of inspiring young scientists through the running of higher education programs in collaboration with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of the Western Cape, Duke University, South African National Parks (SANParks) and SAEON, the South African Environmental Observation Network. In addition the organizations trustees have vast experience in the education, non-profit management and sustainability sectors.
KAREN VICKERS, MSC.
CO-FOUNDER, CO-DIRECTOR OF THE NSASANI TRUST, UNIVERSITY EDUCATOR AND CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST WITH RESEARCH INTERESTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT, TRANSFORMATIONAL EDUCATION, AND THE CONSERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY PATTERN AND PROCESS
Karen is a Scientist-turned-Educator. With research interests in the field of protected area design and implementation as well as maximising the protection of functional biodiversity, she has spent many years as a passionate field biologist. Her career as an Educator began when she got to share her passion for field biology by teaching students about biodiversity conservation and field research skills with the Organisation for Tropical Students in 2006.
In 2010, Karen wanted to share her passion and vision for a more skilled, inspired South African youth and turned her vision into reality by founding the Nsasani Trust with Laurence Kruger. Since then she has played the role of administrator, architect, business-plan and website designer, fundraiser, and teacher.
Her goal besides making the Nsasani trust the most successful experiential education and skills development organisation in South Africa, is to design and implement programs for South Africans that lead students to have profound transformations resulting in young individuals realising their true potential to effect positive change in this country.
LAURENCE KRUGER, PHD.
CO-FOUNDER, CO-DIRECTOR OF THE NSASANI TRUST, DIRECTOR ORGANIZATION FOR TROPICAL STUDIES; BOTANIST AND PASSIONATE EDUCATOR
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education” - Mark Twain
Born into a family of biologists and humanitarians, I have followed my passion for both by running field based, experiential learning programmes in and around South Africa. Given the challenges facing education institutions (lack of resources, limited access to the field) and the barriers to education many students face, I see our goal at the Nsasani Trust, to be the dismantling of these obstacles.
We all have epiphanies in life, when we realise a change in aspirations. An experience that fundamentally changes the way we view the world and our individual futures, as well as how we could contribute to society. Mine was a biological inventory expedition in Bolivia during which time we assisted in the collection of valuable botanical data which supported the eventual establishment of the Madidi National Park. Entirely self-funded, the team comprised several 23/24-year-old multinational biologists who were all trying to make a difference to conservation and human capital development in South America. This experience fundamentally shaped how I wished to make a contribution to conservation and education in southern Africa: that we all have a part to play in a bigger picture, exercising benefit- sharing on a daily basis.
In delivering life changing, academically rigorous field courses, we aim to provide experiences that allow for growth in aspirations for students and academics alike. I feel strongly that we need to reconsider our role in society and the environment, and return our focus to humanity rather than self-actualisation, and how we can contribute to the betterment of others. The courses we have run over the last 15 years have been incredibly fulfilling, and cemented my passion for education and scientific research. However, aside from focusing on education quality, creativity and integrity, we have found that the single most important ingredient is to have fun.
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” - Nelson Mandela
INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT AND RESEARCHER IN GLOBAL CHANGE AND SUSTAINABILITY: GLOBAL CHANGE ANALYST; GLOBAL FUTURES STRATEGIST
Nick has over 30 years’ experience in the global change, environment and development sectors worldwide including work with UNEP, UNDP, the World Bank, and many other international development agencies. His expertise encompasses futures research, global change analysis, in particular technology and environmental change, including climate change, and scenarios development, resilience and systems thinking.
He has worked with governments, the private sector, NGOs and local communities, including assessment of environment and development policy and management in numerous countries, and participated on both governmental and NGO delegations to international treaty negotiations such as the CBD and UNFCCC. He served on the Science and Policy Advisory Board for UNEP’s Fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5) published in 2012 and is Co-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for GEO-6, to be published in 2017.
Nick was a Review Editor for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) published in 2014; he is an invited expert in the global scoping, scenarios and modelling, and capacity building deliverables currently under development for the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Nick has held Chief Executive appointments with three international NGOs and currently holds Board and advisory appointments with six local and African NGOs. He holds an Extraordinary Professorship appointment in the School of Geo & Spatial Sciences, Northwest University and also lectures part-time at the Universities of the Free State and of Cape Town.
DAVID BUNN, PHD.
CULTURAL HISTORIAN, AUTHOR
David Bunn is a South African university professor who works in interdisciplinary cultural studies. Educated at Rhodes University, and Northwestern University, he has held various senior academic positions. For six years, until 2009, he was the head of the combined School of Arts at Wits. Working inside and outside the academy, he has served in government, in senior university management positions, and in many community organizations. From 2009 to 2012 he combined independent research with visiting appointments at the University of Chicago, the University of Johannesburg, Duke University’s savanna biology program [OTS], and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 2011, David was awarded the prestigious Donnelley fellowship at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, where he worked on a book on the political history of the Kruger National Park. Presently, he is the inaugural Director of the University of the Witwatersrand’s new Knowledge Hub for Rural Development, at Wits Rural Facility, on the Orpen Road near the Kruger National Park.
Much of David’s work over the past decade has focussed on environmental history, landscape history, and the history of the Kruger National Park in particular. As director of the environmental consultancy Public Nature, he has been involved in significant commissioned work on the relationship between rural communities and protected areas. He also directs a multi-disciplinary, South African National Parks-registered team research project, Under the Wire: Border Permeability in the South Western Kruger National Park. One major outcome of this project was the production of an award-winning documentary film in 2010 on the lives of early black field rangers.
Local Businessman, Human Capital Development
Shadreck is a local Entrepreneur specializing in service provisioning for programs and workshops run in and around the Kruger National Park. Not only is he passionate about delivering seamless transport, catering and logistical support to education programs, but he is also passionate about giving back to his local community bordering the KNP. At the Nsasani Trust Shadreck makes a large contribution by using our courses as an opportunity to train and upskill local individuals in the fields of catering, transport and logistics. Many of the individuals he has trained through his company “AggyShadow” have gone on to fill positions as divers and chefs at restaurants and lodges in and around the KNP.