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A Place at the Table

Hospitality and community have been part of what it means to be A Rocha since the very beginning. In a new book co-written by Miranda Harris, a co-founder, and her daughter Jo Swinney, our Director of Communications, these themes are explored in the context of the many colourful stories of A Rocha tables around the world, inviting us all to a deeper relationship with each other, the earth and the God who invites us to feast with gratitude and generosity. Miranda’s tragic death in 2019 was a shock to many around the world who found her approach to hospitality and community a life-long inspiration. Published posthumously, A Place at the Table explores the transformative way in which sharing food is at the heart of a shared life. 

All royalties will go towards the work of the A Rocha worldwide family. You can support our work and be among the first to get your hands on a copy in early September by pre-ordering HERE.  Why not get one for yourself and one for a friend?  

This short film tells the story of how the book came about. You might want to have tissues to hand. 

For photographs, event information and more, visit placeatthetable.info    
Bob and Margaret Pullan 1983

In grateful remembrance of Bob Pullan

Photo caption: Bob and Margaret Pullan, 1983

A Rocha is grieving the loss of Bob Pullan who was the first chair of the A Rocha trustees in 1983 when the organization was established. At the time he was a senior lecturer in bio-geography at Liverpool University and had extensive experience of living and working in Africa. He was also church warden of St Mary’s Upton on Merseyside in the UK which was effectively the founding church for the fledgling project.

His first response on being asked to take on the role proved to be prophetic when he said ‘My life is ready for a new direction’. Many A Rocha members from UK gave their time and talents during the early years during which the first field study centre was established on the Alvor estuary in Portugal, but none gave more than Bob who with his wife Margaret saw their home overrun with volunteers, sweatshirts for sale, and publicity materials as they offered hospitality to many visitors. He led field expeditions for his students to stay in the centre and contributed some of the early work that surveyed disappearing wetlands and other habitats. The tradition of rigorous science and lively faith which has remained an A Rocha constant around the world owes a great deal to Bob’s initial leadership and his wisdom will be hugely missed.

Queen Elizabeth tree planting - cropped (David McKay)

Environmental education: sowing seeds for a sustainable world

In May, A Rocha staff, and Ugandan teachers and church leaders gathered at Kira Farm in Uganda for the A Rocha environmental education conference and workshops. 

The five-day conference was part of A Rocha International’s ongoing work to strengthen capacity for environmental education and build on the excellent work already being carried out by A Rocha organizations across Africa. Participants learned about the role of environmental education for reconnecting people and nature and for inspiring action for a sustainable world. They were encouraged to reimagine how they could be more effective and reach a wider audience, including sharing new methods for delivering environmental education. 

As part of the workshops, 35 teachers and six church leaders visited Kiteezi Church of Uganda Primary School near Kampala. Five years ago, Ibrahim Ssekama, one of the school’s teachers, asked A Rocha Uganda for help growing vegetables around the school grounds and incorporating environmental topics into the curricula. Since then, the school has received fruit trees through Gifts with a Difference, and they have extended the area for growing crops. Now they have huge cabbages and lots of other vegetables growing, and their whole compound is looking very green. Sack gardens demonstrate what can be done where land is scarce and plastic bottles are reused for growing seedlings. 

The teachers and church leaders went home equipped with new ideas, and enthused by a deeper understanding and with a stronger commitment to caring for creation in their work and communities.  

The conference and workshops could not have taken place without the generosity of all those who supported A Rocha International during the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2021. Thank you for enabling work like this to happen! 

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The John Stott Birding Day

John Stott was at the forefront of bringing creation care to the attention of the global Church. He cared deeply for the plight of the planet because he was hardwired with a love of nature in general and of birds in particular. He was among the first and most faithful friends A Rocha has had and so last year, in celebration of the centenary of his birth, we launched the John Stott Memorial Birding Day. Participants in 21 countries took part in a bird race, seeing an amazing combined total of 1089 species in 24 hours!  

This year, we have an audacious goal. Will you help us reach John Stott’s life total of 2000 species? We are joining ebird’s Global Big Day, using their platform for record keeping. You can take part as an individual, but we recommend you form a team of three to five.  

Take part in the bird race on 14 or 15 May or go on a John Stott-inspired retreat using our resource. Visit www.johnstottbirdingday.com for more information. 

Here are the winners from last year

Kruparna pond - Filip Lastovic

Volunteer week with A Rocha Czech Republic

13-21 August 2022

Come and spend a week with us at the Keith Morris Centre! Staying with friends; helping nature.

Overview of the week:

  • Three days of work in our educational centre, both inside and especially in the living garden behind the centre. It has seven ponds, two bird hides, insect houses and more – a haven for flora and fauna, and always in need of some maintenance! We hope to complete another pond and do some major planting.
  • One day in the Josefov meadows ornithological reserve (a private reserve belonging to ČSO – the Czech Ornithological Society)
  • One day in the Orlické hory (Eagle Mountains) Protected Landscape Area

 

Overview of the day:

  • We will work for a maximum of four hours per day.
  • Each morning, we will start with a short Bible reading and focus on what the Bible has to say about nature (in Czech and English)
  • Afternoons we will offer various activities: catching and ringing birds, walks and shorter trips in the surrounding countryside, Czech traditional mushrooming (plus a simple mycological course), monitoring nesting Kingfishers or Dippers…
  • In the evenings, we’ll spend time together in singing and joint readings from inspiring environmental books

 

Sunday 14 August: closing service at our centre or in the local church

Accommodation is simple: bring your sleeping bags and mats; we´ll sleep either in the centre or in the garden (in a tent, forest shed or bird hide). 

Food: food for everyone will be prepared by our cook, with the help of several volunteers in the kitchen and dining room. 

Price: 10 € per night. Travel to the centre is at your own cost; during the week, transport will be provided in our cars. A driving licence is welcome. 

Capacity of the week: limited to 30 people. We expect that half of the participants will be from the Czech Republic, with the other half of volunteers from further afield (e.g. England, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, USA…) 

If you are interested, please email us at [email protected] and we´ll sign you in – first come, first served! 

Pavel and Radka Světlík, A Rocha Czech Republic

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When is a woodland not a woodland? When it’s a wetland.

Did you know the Dakatcha Woodland in Kenya is also a seasonal wetland? 2022 is the first year that World Wetlands Day has been observed officially by the United Nations. Wetlands, like forests, can act as ‘carbon sinks’, attracting carbon and sequestering it so that it cannot escape into our atmosphere. Wetlands like Dakatcha are also home to incredible biodiversity.  

Sadly, wetlands are under threat. Mining and agricultural activities have destroyed nearly half of Kenya’s wetlands over the past 50 years. A report by the National Environmental Complaints Committee found that the area of wetlands had shrunk by around 40% between 1970 and 2021.   

The seasonal wetlands of Dakatcha Forest are the known breeding grounds of Clarke’s Weaver, an endangered bird found only in Kilifi County. They are particularly at risk because they appear dry for much of the year, which means the forest is converted into agricultural land. 

One of the problems A Rocha Kenya is facing is selective logging for charcoal production and pineapple farming. With easy access to chainsaws and motorbikes to transport charcoal, forest clearing has intensified in recent months, and the indigenous forest is being burnt down at an alarming rate. In turn, the price of land is also increasing as local landowners then sell their land to speculative buyers and companies interested in pineapple farming in the rich red magarini soil. 

A Rocha Kenya continues to work to secure this land before it is lost. Scouts govern the forest to make sure the area is well protected and to resolve any conflicts that may arise. The science team also go for a one-week camping trip in Dakatcha each month to record the biodiversity and set the foundation for future research and conservation decisions.

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Wild and Wonderful

Wild and Wonderful is a website with free Eco resources for schools, churches and families. The school resources were initially created for A Rocha Netherlands by long time A Rocha friend Petra Crofton.  

The Explore Creation pack for churches links Bible, ecology and creation care and consists of six sessions about life in different places such as the dark, the sky, and the water. Each session offers outdoor and indoor activities.  

There is an Explore Creation workshop for schools too, with ‘Life’ stations and mini-activities. The resources have been tried and tested for nearly ten years and are meant to inspire and encourage children as well as parents and leaders/teachers. As the school materials were initially created for A Rocha Netherlands, they link in with national primary school curriculums and follow the wild adventures of four 11-year olds (Science Geek Christy and her Eco-Logbook – A Rocha International 

On the website, you’ll also find Extra Resources with crafts, trails, quizzes, recipes and a book club manual. The project supports A Rocha and Climate Stewards, and was funded by Scientists in Congregations with the aim of offering free materials to churches, schools and families using story and adventure as starting points. 

www.wildandwonderful.uk  

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Standing up for nature

Our latest issue of Field Notes explores ways we can stand up for nature. One way is to engage with the next Convention on Biodiversity (CBD COP15). If you have no idea what that is all about, never fear: read our beginners’ introduction and all will become clear! There are also lots of stories of A Rocha’s conservation work around the world to inspire you. 


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Development Manager – A Rocha Int. (Remote, USA)

The Development Manager is responsible for implementing a major, new fundraising initiative (the Global Conservation Fund) for the A Rocha Worldwide Family in the United States. This position is relationship-focused and will spend the majority of time managing and coordinating donor cultivation steps with A Rocha stakeholders. The organization is looking for someone who can demonstrate experience in closing major gifts toward the development and growth of A Rocha’s work worldwide, including in the United States. The intention is to secure a greatly increased and sustainable level of financial support for A Rocha from individuals, foundations, and churches in the United States.

Location
Remote, USA
Department
Development
Employment Type
Full-Time
Minimum Experience
Mid-level
Compensation
$65,000 – $75,000 Annually

As a part of the A Rocha International (ARI) team, the Development Manager reports to the Executive Director of A Rocha International, with input and support from A Rocha USA’s (ARUSA) Development Team. This is a highly collaborative role, which will require extensive liaising between multiple A Rocha organizations.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Work with the ARI Executive Director to design and implement fundraising strategies for A Rocha’s mission, priorities, and goals
  • Manage a process to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward a portfolio of new mid-level and major gift donors and prospects with an emphasis on gifts to A Rocha’s Global Conservation Fund This includes coordinating the engagement of executive leadership with major donors, prospects, and important development opportunities
  • Participate on the ARUSA Development Team to ensure optimal coordination regarding development opportunities
  • Become familiar with A Rocha programs, priorities, and goals to represent them to donors and prospective donors
  • Prepare and complete timely reporting on key donor metrics
    Help design and implement necessary data collection in Salesforce for proper donor management and tracking
  • Attend strategic events to represent A Rocha, exhibit as appropriate, and network with key constituents
  • Develop and manage a budget for outreach, travel, and relationship development activities
  • Perform other duties as required or assigned

Education and Qualifications

  • University-level education
  • Proven ability to establish, cultivate, and steward strong donor relationships

Skills and Experience

  • Proven ability to make a compelling and authentic case to attract new donors
  • Experience in nonprofit development and communications
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Understanding of the nuances of the USA Christian world
  • Familiarity of the conservation and/or environmental sectors a plus
  • Working knowledge of primary social media and communication platforms
  • Familiarity with Salesforce or similar CRM

Personal Qualities and Attitude

  • Deep commitment to the vision, mission, and five commitments of A Rocha, as a committed Christian who is passionate about creation care and securing more funding for this vital work
  • Proactive self-starter with the ability to work well independently, establish clear priorities, and meet deadlines
  • Fosters a spirit of unity and teamwork, demonstrates integrity, and is servant-minded
  • Demonstrated experience working and communicating across cultures and a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Location

Remote, US-based and Central Florida preferred. Regular travel required.

Application Close Date

Open until filled

About A Rocha

A Rocha is an international community of Christians, spanning over 20 countries, working in biodiversity conservation to protect and restore vulnerable habitats, species, and communities. Our programs and conservation projects focus on applied scientific research, environmental and theological education, and environmental action. We are committed to restoring people and places by providing resources and community for those interested in conservation and caring for all of God’s creation.

Heather and Bob Sluka nurdle hunting

Life as an A Rocha volunteer

Heather, you recently spent three months volunteering with A Rocha Portugal at their centre, Cruzinha. Can you tell us about what you got up to?

I did a mix of jobs around the centre and in the garden, but one of my main long-term projects was helping another research intern who was studying the flow of plastics in the nearby Alvor estuary.

What did you enjoy most about your time there?

The people! Everyone was so welcoming and I learned a lot from each person I met. I learned about birds from watching the ringers and about moths from Paula. And I learned about Portuguese food and traditions from the local team. We had fun all together and I made friends I never would have met if I had not gone. That is the coolest!

Sounds like you had a great time! Do you have any advice for those considering volunteering with A Rocha?

For me, the best part about volunteering with A Rocha is the community that you become a part of and getting to know all the people you are there with. One thing I did while at Cruzinha was to ask the most weird and far-fetched questions I could think of during our mealtimes. It was a way to start conversations you might not otherwise think of, and the absurdity of some of my questions gave everyone a good laugh!