Mongabay welcomes first cohort of conservation reporting fellows

A few months after launching the Y. Eva Tan Conservation Reporting Fellowship Program, Mongabay is proud to announce that we are now welcoming our first cohort of aspiring journalists to the program.

Meet the 2022-2023 Fellows

Throughout the selection process, the Mongabay team was sincerely inspired to receive more than 380 high-quality applications from all over the planet. The sheer volume reflects not only the interest young journalists have in growing their careers, but also the deep, widespread need to report on critical environmental issues in biodiversity hotspots.

At Mongabay, we are thrilled to welcome Calvin Rock Odhiambo, Jewel S. Cabrera and Mactilda Mbenywe as our inaugural cohort for the Y. Eva Tan Conservation Reporting Fellowship Program. This first group represents the start of what we hope will be a long-term effort to inspire an entirely new generation of environmental journalists.

Calvin Rock Odhiambo

Calvin is passionate about environment and social justice stories, with a penchant for solutions-oriented developmental journalism. He began his journalism career in early 2021 as an intern, and is now working as a reporter and fact-checker for Africa Uncensored, an independent media house based in Nairobi, Kenya. His first story on carbon emissions in Nairobi’s transportation sector, “Saving the Planet One EV at a Time,” won an African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Award, organized by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance. Prior to joining Africa Uncensored, Calvin worked as a volunteer teacher of English and literature in a local high school.

Besides pitching and producing stories, Calvin also produces fact-check articles for Africa Uncensored’s Piga Firimbi, which is Swahili for “Blow the Whistle,” and he co-produces a fact-checking podcast called Verified.

During his free time, Calvin enjoys writing fictional short stories, social commentaries and poetry, which he plans to publish someday.

Connect with Calvin

Learn more about Calvin’s background on his Mongabay Fellow profile or Twitter.

Jewel S. Cabrera

Jewel is a student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, where she is completing a Bachelor of Science in development communication. Several electives from the College of Human Ecology gave her a greater appreciation for the environment, making her want to do something to protect it.

Although she’s still finding her footing in the environmental field, she believes she can make a meaningful impact by employing her strengths and passions: writing and communicating. In her opinion, these are two powerful tools for facilitating change.

Coming from the Philippines, named the deadliest country for environmental defenders in Asia in 2020 and seventh most dangerous country for journalists in 2021, she believes helping the environment should not be dangerous. However, it is crucial for journalists to continue writing stories to inform and empower people, especially in vulnerable communities.

Outside of her studies and writing, Jewel’s interests include photography, macramé and dogs. She also likes to listen to music as she daydreams about going to different places, doing various outdoor activities, meeting new people and learning about their culture. Someday, she hopes to turn this dream to reality.

Connect with Jewel

Learn more about Jewel’s background on her Mongabay Fellow profile or LinkedIn.

Mactilda Mbenywe

A self-driven multimedia science journalist, Mactilda is based in Kenya and has a knack for writing environment, climate and conservation stories. She currently works as a journalist for the Standard Group, a mainstream media house in Kenya, uncovering cross-border issues on terrestrial and marine biodiversity through data-based multimedia storytelling. On the environment beat, Mactilda has reported on climate change and greenhouse gases, where her work has helped communities around Lake Victoria conserve marine resources, avoid environmental degradation and find sustainable ways of living.

Mactilda has covered global environmental events like COP26 in Scotland, the United Nations Environment Programme Summit, and the United Nations Environment Assembly, among others.

Mactilda’s track record of balanced reporting has resulted in notable recognition from the Nile Media Awards and the Media Council of Kenya with an Annual Journalism Excellence Award for Mental Health and Wellness for her reporting on how climate change spurs mental crises.

Apart from her work, she holds an honors in journalism studies from Maseno University and is studying toward a master’s in environmental communication studies.

Connect with Mactilda

Learn more about Mactilda’s background on her Mongabay Fellow profile, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

About the Conservation Reporting Fellowship Program

Mongabay created the Y. Eva Tan Conservation Reporting Fellowship Program to build the capacity of young and aspiring environmental journalists to cover biodiversity hotspots around the world.

The program provides opportunities for 12 journalists per year from tropical countries to report on critical environmental issues, to gain valuable training, experience and credibility that will help them advance their careers in journalism and communications.

About Mongabay

Mongabay is a nonprofit conservation and environmental science news outlet that delivers daily news and inspiration from Nature’s frontline via its local-language bureaus and global network of more than 800 journalists in nearly 80 countries. Mongabay’s evidence-driven journalism is syndicated by a wide range of outlets, greatly extending its reach beyond the 4 million people who access its information monthly. Mongabay is dedicated to publishing journalism that fills gaps in understanding by highlighting underreported issues and increasing transparency and accountability.