It is my pleasure to recommend Mr. Canisius John Kayombo for scholarship support
to pursue undergraduate studies in botany at any suitable university in East Africa.
I have a long and meaningful professional relationship with Mr. Kayombo, and I am
convinced that he is capable of both performing well in any such program and that he
will turn his newly acquired skills and knowledge to the betterment of Tanzanian
and global plant science and conservation.
I first met Mr. Kayombo in November 1988 when the Missouri Botanical Garden was
engaged in the collection of bulk samples of plant materials in rural Mufindi
District for pharmaceutical screening by the National Cancer Institute, U.S.A.
He arrived while we were working one day and said that he had heard that we were
doing scientific research on plants and that he was very interested in that kind of
work and that he would like to have a job with us. Even though Canisius had no
previous experience in the kind of technical work that we were doing, I was
immediately impressed with his energy, his willingness to work for long hours under
difficult conditions, his ability to remember and consistently follow complicated
instructions, and the quality of his English (at a time when my Swahili was very
limited and I needed a great deal of help in communicating with other local workers).
Within a rather short time, we assigned him additional responsibilities and named
him Field Supervisor on that project, which I am sure we could not have completed
satisfactorily on its very tight timetable without his diligent efforts.
In those first four months of working together almost 21 years ago, Canisius
demonstrated all of the qualities that I have increasingly grown to appreciate in
him: initiative, determination, intelligence, stamina, attention to detail, and
above all a real love of the knowledge and understanding of plants that has given
him the determination to hold on to his dream of making botany his lifeís work
through the intervening, often very difficult years. Often at considerable personal
inconvenience, Canisius has always made himself available for short-term employment
during my periods of botanical field work in Tanzania, and he has taken full
advantage of every opportunity to increase his knowledge and skills. Beginning as a
field assistant in my plant collecting, Canisius clearly made the transition to a
full-fledged herbarium specimen collector in his own right during our work together
at Gombe National Park in 1996, and he entered our Tanzania Botanical Training
Programme (TBTP) in 1998 with more than 1,300 collections on his own number series.
Since graduating from the TBTP in December 1999, Canisius has distinguished himself
as an employee of the National Herbarium of Tanzania (NHT), as Senior Field Botanist
of the Tanzania Botanical Research and Conservation Programme (TBRCP), and in his
current position on the staff of Olmotonyi Forestry Training Institute. He has
participated in numerous plant biodiversity inventories with both Tanzanian and
visiting international scientists and has increased his own plant collections to
almost 6,000. He has become highly proficient at critical identification of his own
and othersí plant collections using the Flora of Tropical East Africa, other
literature resources, and comparison with herbarium specimens at NHT and other
institutions and regularly produces technical reports of a high professional
standard. In short, through his continuing efforts, he has become a valuable resource
within the Tanzanian botanical community. With additional educational opportunity,
his value to his own community and beyond can only increase.
With excellent technical skills, a demonstrated devotion to the study of plants
and a thirst for knowledge unsurpassed in all of my professional training experience,
I can most enthusiastically recommend Canisius for scholarship support, and I will
be pleased to respond to any further enquiries about his background and abilities.
Eileen E. Cooper PhD, Gifted Education Coordinator
New Milford, Connecticut Public Schools
This is a letter of recommendation for Canisius J. Kayombo to pursue a degree in
botany. The purpose of his degree is to provide local leadership in conservation
efforts centering on East African biodiversity hotspots.
In the summer of 2009, I volunteered time at the Forestry Training Institute in
Arusha, Tanzania where I met and worked with Canisius. I chose to do this because I
have been a teacher both at the elementary and college levels for 38 years where I
have taught botany as an essential subject to hundreds of students. The botanical
world is important to my life.
Working with Canisius in his newly established herbarium, we collected and
verified local grasses to produce an illustrated teaching booklet for his students
at the Institute. It became clear to me that he was extremely experienced, and as
an educator for the gifted and talented, I recognized his intellectual talents. I
was impressed not only by his extensive scientific knowledge but with his drive to
contribute to botanical research and its practical application.
Eventually, Canisius described his life history including how he acquired an
education. I was struck by his struggle to get basic schooling. Here in the West
we take education for granted. When I discovered that he had applied to university
to complete his degree in botany, and that tuition was needed, I decided with a
friend to set up a website to help fund his education. The importance of this, I
feel, is that he is tied to the biodiversity hotspots of East Africa and his
education has been underserved.
East Africa contains biodiversity hotspots that will sizzle out of existence
for want of an authority to protect its environment now held in fragile balance.
I believe that conservation of this sensitive area is in the hands of local people.
Local individuals can bridge an intimate understanding of the actual workings of
East African hotspots with policy changes. A strong leader like Canisius is
needed. My life has been dedicated to advancing intellectually gifted students.
Canisius, is an intelligent, highly motivated botanist. His passion for plants is
evident in his biography. A website was created for him to request support in the
way of grants and scholarships so that he can gain the status of a four year
university degree. It goes without saying that hotspots face serious problems.
Solutions require that lots of money be poured into environmental causes
supporting strong leadership. One person like Canisius Kayombo can make a
difference. The botanical community and those dedicated to the preservation of
the natural world are asked to commit funds in support of his education by
donating at his website. Thank you for your consideration.