A Host´s perspective of Pioneers

When Heinrich Schneider hosted the first Pioneer at Agentur auf! in 2017, he was not sure how the experience was going to be—but was hopeful that this would morph to a longstanding cooperation with Climate-KIC. Three years later, and Agentur auf! is still hosting Pioneers from across Europe.

Agentur auf! is a consulting firm based in Frankfurt that specializes in providing Biodiversity solutions for its clients. In addition, they also have different projects running on exhibition on green jobs, plastik summer school, CO2 compensation, nature protection, biodiversity in agricultural food production, and evaluation of nature conservation projects.

Once Pioneers are matched with Agentur auf!, they spend the first week getting acquainted with the project. As the Pioneers program manager, and a Biologist by expertise, Heinrich then spends time mentoring the Pioneers and going over the specifics of the program before they start working on the projects for the following two weeks. As the placement comes to a conclusion, they submit their deliverables, either as reports, recommendations or scenarios. Heinrich says, “Once the Pioneers leave, we ensure there is continuity with the projects they worked on. For instance, Agentur auf! has been working on a European wide project on Integration of biodiversity criteria into food production whereby they (Pioneers) conduct scenarios on climate smart agriculture. The Pioneers utilize data, research material and contexts compiled by previous Pioneers who worked on the EU project to develop smaller tasks, which are then integrated into Agentur auf!’s workplan.

In addition to this, Pioneers also work on Summer school projects. On these projects, they design presentations, surveys and a program for the next summer school, including a resource persons database that Agentur auf! would engage for the following Summer school year.

Heinrich is appreciative of the skills Pioneers have brought to his company. He quickly established how Pioneers are well-versed in examining multiple solutions to in resolving climate-change issues for clients. “As most of them are young and educated, they already knew the basics which allowed us to jump straight on to the tasks at hand. These Pioneers are very well connected, and this networking enables them consult and exchange ideas with others easily.” He says.

These different projects have enabled Pioneers acquire critical skills that are valuable to their work. They have learnt about Biodiversity protection and nature environmental protection— and about the complexity of the projects, particularly the level of specificity they require in changing perceptions and effecting biodiversity and nature protection. While at Agentur auf!, Pioneers have also engaged in projects that teach environmental skills to younger people as well as corporate responsibility for clients looking to incorporate environmentally-friendly policies.

The learning has not only been on the Pioneers part. Heinrich has benefited quite as much working with a young cohort.

I’ve had a learning experience as well hosting Pioneers. These young, vibrant men and women are open-minded, self-driven, tech-savvy and quite innovative in how they approach problems and come up with solutions. And if they fail at the first try, they push us further to consider other ideas that we would not have otherwise thought off. This drive and passion are something I have only witnessed with young people, and it’s challenged me to be open minded.

He says In conclusion, “Pioneers is a great program not only for the participants but the hosts as well. The program allows for mutual learning about how cultures are similar yet different in how they diagnose problems and find solutions to the issues they’re trying to solve.” As much as how he would like to see the Pioneers program improved, he hopes the matching process can be enhanced by clearly defining expectations from the hosts perspective, and additional information provided to Pioneers to ensure they are familiar with what to expect from the hosts.