Yesterday marked International Women’s Day and we can’t think of anybody better to honour than Jo Roberts, CEO of The Wilderness Foundation. International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women around the world, and is the perfect opportunity to shout about the inspiring things women do.
Born in South Africa, Jo was surrounded by the country’s beautiful wildlife and inherited her father’s passion for nature and conservation. During Apartheid, Jo trained and worked as a Social Anthropologist in disadvantaged rural communities. The experiences she gained during these years made it clear that creative and meaningful community projects are an essential part of creating a harmonious world. With this awareness, she also realised the importance of protecting and raising the profile of the value of nature. This knowledge and experience inspired Jo to begin volunteering for The Wilderness Foundation in 1998, before being appointed CEO in 2002.
The Wilderness Foundation’s aim is to educate people about the value of wild nature and natural landscapes and to inform communities of environmental issues. The foundation works closely on the personal experiences of improved health and well-being through spending time in wild places.
With Jo at the helm, The Wilderness Foundation has gone from strength to strength and has had a massive impact on people’s lives. One of their most successful projects, TurnAround, launched in 2007. The TurnAround project, is a nature based programme which enables vulnerable young people to make positive changes to their lives. This is achieved through linking community mentors, wilderness therapy, skills workshops and support for employment and further education over a twelve month period.
What unites the young people is the fact that they are all working towards learning how to take on personal responsibility, are committed to the programme, and want to work as a group towards personal change. Jo is always looking for innovative solutions to empower people who live with a wide range of difficult circumstances to find the skills and confidence to transform their lives.
“As a participant of the project, I would like to say that the project was a major turning point in my life and has helped me to take control of my demons and become a trusted member of society.” — Toni
To find out more about Jo or The Wilderness Foundation, visit their website;