Egerton Alumnus who Drives President's Agenda
At Egerton University, we are always eager to hear incredible stories of how our Alumni are transforming lives in their different professions. Recently, the Egerton University Alumni Relations Office spoke to Lr Buoga Jared Omondi who agreed to share with us his amazing journey. Jared is currently the Delivery Director, President's Delivery Unit (PDU) in the Executive Office of the President, Kenya. He is our Alumnus of the week.
"My desire to follow my passion in Natural Sciences began at a tender age. This was exhibited by my stellar performance in the sciences and geography coupled with practical engagement in nature oriented field activities, exhibitions, presentations and studies. In Maseno School I dominated Science Congress competitions through to the National stage. These inspired me to pursue natural resources management.
From Maseno School, I joined Egerton University, Njoro Main Campus to study Natural Resources Management in August 2002. Egerton University shaped my life and worldview about conservation and management of natural resources.
I joined the Youth Wildlife and Environmental Movement (YWEM) Egerton Chapter in first year. There was an election for YWEM leadership during the same semester in the month of October, occasioned by vacation of office by senior leaders who were due for graduation later in the year.
I vied for the post of Deputy Director and won. During our tenure, we revamped the movement to greater heights. I led in organizing the annual Youth Environment Symposium (YES) where we invited high profile guests from UNEP, Government Agencies and Departments to speak to members.
I coordinated and rallied students to participate in the Annual Egerton University Conservation Week. The Annual Conservation Week was a very spectacular event for the University. It brought all stakeholders in efforts to conserve Mau Forest. It gave me a chance to interact with many dignitaries across the globe who joined the annual event.
The then University Vice Chancellor, Prof Ezra Maritim, was very supportive of the programme and exposed us to numerous partners both in the private sector and academia. When I was later elected as the Director – YWEM, it was a norm that the VC would rely on our input when planning and executing environmental and natural resources management activities in the school.
I led the student team to the Annual East African Environment Network (EAEN) Conference for 4 consecutive years among other notable events and activities. I led a comprehensive tree name tagging ever done in the University.
My aspiration to reach out to many youths and prospective students to join Natural Science courses inspired me to register a community organization in my home District (Siaya) in 2003, while I was a second year student. Thus, in April 2003, Tembea Youth Centre for Sustainable Development (Tembea) was established.
The organization that would later be my employer after my graduation from Egerton in 2007 for seven years played a significant role in incubating and nurturing skills, innovation towards conservation. Whereas, I was an ardent natural resources management student, my first experience and interaction with GIS and Remote Sensing came about when I learnt about the GIS Day during the long holidays of May – Dec 2004.
I was invited as a Director of my young organization by Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) to a meeting to coordinate and host the Nov 2004 GIS Day. I took a lot of interest in the application during the period. We were led by one illustrious lady called M’Lis FLin from Australia who had come to volunteer with UCRC at the time. She was so passionate about GIS, she was inducted in GIS and RS.
I found out that GIS was very instrumental in the course I was following at the University. She inspired me and gave me inspiration to follow the dream of applying GIS and RS in Natural Resources Management. Needless to stay, what followed next…..
*Geoinformation Science and Remote Sensing Inclusion Drive*
In Jan 2005 when we resumed our studies, I was burning with passion to share with my student colleagues and our faculty dean Prof Lelo about GIS. My first stop was at Prof Lelo’s office, apart from being our dean, he was the Patron to YWEM.
I impressed on him how important GIS and RS is very essential for our class and our course. I shared with him the CDs with demos showing how to manipulate geographical data and its application in natural resources management. In short, we needed a course unit on GIS and Remote Sensing to be included as one of the units to be taught to us.
I shared the materials and information with my colleague students to get enough support over the same. It wasn’t an easy process to quickly accommodate our class to be taught by Dr. Onyando, who was from the Faculty of Engineering. As a cohort, we did not succeed to get the unit considered. But I am happy to report that out of the pressure and efforts, subsequent cohorts benefited.
However, at a personal level, I became a private student of Dr. Onyando, who took me through the basics of geoinformation science and earth observations. It is Dr. Onyando and later Dr. Ogola who taught us photogrammetry that first mentioned to us about ITC Faculty of Geoinformation Science and Earth Observations, The Netherlands.
*The Scholarship Application Attempts*
My first attempt to join the ITC Faculty of Geoinformation Science was in 2009.
I made two other subsequent unsuccessful attempts and gave up. However, in Oct 2012, a ray beamed at the end of the tunnel of lost hope. I successfully won a NUFFIC scholarship for Certificate International Short Course – Adaptive Management for Natural Resources Management: Supporting decentralized forest and nature Management for rural development under the auspices of the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen University Research, Netherlands and Kwame Nkurumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in Ghana.
During the course, I shared my predicaments with the Course Director – Dr. Rozemeijer, Nico, a jovial fellow. He encouraged me to try again and gave me some insights. The NUFFIC had just opened the system for applications running through to 15th March 2013 at the time. On this last stab, I was placed on a provisional list of prospective scholarship recipients. I was so excited when a confirmation came in July 2013, that I had been selected.
This was a shot in the arm, two successive scholarships from NUFFIC!!.
Life at ITC, the Netherlands is such a wonder. A rigorous academic programme, lovely people, delicious food, people riding cycles of all shapes and forms, a host of international students, seasoned lecturers and professors from all Ivy League Universities and Institutions - that come adorned in a cocktail of characters and personalities - lovely, humble, compassionate, enthusiastic and strict in the same measure.
Upon mr return in March 2015, my desire was to put my professional skills into practice. I must appreciate and acknowledge the effort that the Dutch Embassy in Kenya has made to her NUFFIC recipients Alumni network.
Professionally, I have had the honor to support as a consultant to European Union Funded Projects in the rangelands under various organizations in the region and across Africa. I serve in School Boards and offer my professional services through Leaf Magnet Research and Development Ltd. I currently serve as the Delivery Director, President’s Delivery Unit in the Executive Office of the President of Kenya."
NB: This story obtained some input from the Netherlands Alumni Association of Kenya Facebook page with permission from Jared. Jared is a recipient of the Dutch Government Scholarship (OKP, formerly NUFFIC).