As a longtime resident of the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Bill learned the Pohnpeian language and earned a Pohnpeian honorific title Soumadau en Pei ni Eng Eihr—the Lord of the Altar of the East Wind—for, among other deeds, growing giant yams and being a true Pohnpeian master agroforester. In 1992, he helped launch The Nature Conservancy's program in the FSM, focusing on innovative, community-led conservation and building partnerships. His inspiring leadership, deep commitment, and passion for innovation were critical to the success of groundbreaking initiatives at every scale—ranging from sustainable agriculture practices for local villages to international agreements to protect biodiversity. Bill lived life, including his end of life, on his terms—fully, with love, and with a commitment to others and to the world.
Awardees of this prestigious scholarship will receive support to earn graduate degrees while receiving close guidance and mentorship from leading entities and individuals within the Micronesia Challenge (MC) partnership, including the peer learning networks Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC) and the Pacific Islands Managed and Protected Areas Community (PIMPAC). As a sponsor and founding member of MIC, Bill was committed to identifying and nurturing conservation champions in Micronesia. MIC focuses on building the capacity of conservation leaders and their institutions/organizations, while PIMPAC focuses on building the capacity and skills of conservation practitioners and technical staff tasked to work with governments, NGOs, and communities to develop and implement conservation management and monitoring programs.
Proposed Endowment Need To support these students, our target goal is an endowment fund of approximately $1.2M dollars, generating an estimated 5% in earnings annually. This will support two full time students at $30,000 each per year. The Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge Scholarship Fund is housed at the Micronesia Conservation Trust and will be invested as a sub-account within the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund. During our global celebration of Bill’s life through December 2016, gifts to the endowment will be matched by a generous $20,000 grant from an anonymous donor.
The alumni of the scholarship program will form a cadre of new leaders, who will meet annually in association with the MIC network. This will allow the alumni to continue to be mentored by conservation champions around the region and grow as leaders, who will in turn serve as mentors for new scholarship winners.
The Micronesia Challenge is a groundbreaking commitment by the leaders of Micronesia (the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, and the US Territory of Guam) to put under effective conservation at least 30% of Micronesia's near-shore marine resources and 20% of its terrestrial resources by the year 2020. The Micronesia Challenge Partnership employs four major enabling strategies key to achieving its goals:
- Leadership Development and Capacity Building, including professional and institutional development, peer learning networks, mentorships and internships;
- Small Grants to support community led activities and programs to strengthen protected areas, fisheries management and climate adaptations activities;
- Sound and Practical Science, which includes establishment of scientific research, monitoring and measures and evaluation programs for decision support at all levels of conservation leadership (community, state and national/regional); and
- Sustainable Financing, which includes establishment of sustainable finance plans and mechanisms at regional, national and local levels.