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Canisius Kayombo,
Curator at Forestry Training Institute's
Herbarium-Olmotonyi-Arusha, Tanzania


Roy E. Gereau, Curator and Tanzania Program Director
Africa and Madagascar Department, Missouri Botanical Garden

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.

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