Speed dating conservation experts

How to create the most intense network situation imaginable? Take a team of conservation veterans, unleash 30 students on them and make sure to limit their time for small-talks. Vóilà, you’ll end up with an event we call “Conservation Speed Dating”. How does it work? Actually quite similar to the romantic approach.

Here is our recipe for Conservation Speed Dating

Take at least 10 groups of 2-3 students and one expert. Give them some space, but limit the privacy to 5 minutes. Then, mercilessly ring a bell – better a proper gong – and make sure the students move on to the next conservation expert on the next table.

While the first gong comes as a surprise, everybody will gear up immediately after. Just minutes into the game, all are up to speed and talking. Here is our proof-of-concept and the cast for this years’ date-floor.


For the students it was a unique opportunity to ask the experts about their conservation career, the most challenging aspects of their job and how is it like to work in remote places.

Saskia-DrögeFor me it was a really good experience to learn from their [experts] experiences, as I will soon finish my masters and start looking for a job.”

Saskia Dröge, University of Hildesheim Master student

Katharina-KühnertI found it very interesting to gain insights about their own careers: their personal career path was inspiring.”

Katharina Kühnert, a young conservationist from Munich

GeorginaIt gave me insights of what characteristics you should have as a young conservationist – resilience, determination and to keep going. It was very encouraging to know that it was also hard for them when they started out their career.”

Georgina Kate Hoare, University of Edinburgh Master student

Vera-PfannerstillYou don’t get this opportunity at university – to talk to staff and learn from their experiences. One advice I learned was to plan carefully how much you want to dedicate to conservation and where you want to see yourself in five years.”

Vera Pfannerstill, Göttingen University PhD student

Make sure not to wear out the concept. Allow about an hour for the speed dating cycles, then swap the gong and stop-watch for a nice buffet and leave everybody as much time as possible with their “perfect conservation match”.

Here is a short video recap of the event:

Authors: Dafna Gilad and Daniela Zaec
Video: Mathias Hundt