ED Update | June

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ED Update | June

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Dear Friends of EPI,

Greetings from the coastal rainforest of Pacuare Reserve. We arrived with EPI supporters Sharon and Dick Barrett, who delivered turtle tags for the coming months. And we had the chance to use them! Our first night on patrol we witnessed a nesting leatherback female hauling herself to shore.

These tags go into the back flippers of the nesting female so we can track an individual’s movement and nesting patterns. It’s an important part of the work of our students and visitors to Pacuare Reserve.

Dick and Sharon have traveled with us to Mexico and Galapagos; they’ve made friends with our staff, helped us preserve species, and been financial supporters as well. Thanks Dick and Sharon!

As we wrap up the STEM4Good campaign, I reflect on the good fortune to be here with many aspiring female scientists. Rocio our lead scientist joined us that first night with Dick and Sharon, and 8 out of 10 Pacuare Research Assistants are women. They represent the future of conservation science, and I am proud to be a part of a system that supports, mentors, and inspires them.

On a very personal note, it’s been great to spend three weeks here at the Reserve with my family! What luck to share this time together. It’s impossible to know how my children's minds are being shaped by this place and these people, but from the questions they ask and the smiles on their faces, I’m pleased with the influence. 

We’re here long enough to adjust to the heat, settle into the rhythms of the place, and understand how things are working. Along with turtles – last night we had six leatherbacks and two hawksbills – we’ve had Tico (Costa Rican) groups, University groups, a Spanish group, and a couple of groups from the United States.

The place is alive with more than just wildlife and turtles! It breathes: the ocean with the rolling waves, the howler monkeys responding in the distance, and I feel the breeze moving between them. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the work of everyone here and everyone who makes this place possible through their support.

To be here with these feelings is very inspirational for me. It drives me to continue what has begun. 

As the #STEM4Good campaign comes to a close at the end of this week, we are excited to announce that we’ve hit our $30,000 fundraising goal! In fact, we surpassed it with a total of $35,508! Thank you to those who have helped us get there. Your support means that even more girls get into the field in 2018 and beyond; it also helps us incorporate staff and teacher training to eliminate bias and other obstacles that inhibit girls from succeeding in STEM careers. 

During the campaign, we talked to some incredible young women – EPI alumni – who are already making waves for science and conservation, leading the way for future generations of women scientists. We met researchers and teachers who are everyday witnesses to the potential young women bring to science; it’s these same people who partner with EPI specifically because they see the affects hands-on science has on these young women. We feature a few of these alumni, teachers, and researchers in our spring newsletter.

To bring awareness to the campaign and its aims, we created articles, infographics, and videos. I’m particularly proud of the video where we identified five actions that will help engage more girls in STEM. EPI is implementing these initiatives into its daily work, and you can, too. I hope you’ll watch and share our How to Engage More Girls in STEM video.

I am pleased to announce this year’s John Denham Award winner, Joëlle De Weerdt. A woman in science in her own right, Joëlle founded ELI-Scientific, an organization that runs a science and education program in Nicaragua, engaging local communities and the government in gathering data on cetacean species in the area. They then use that data to teach educational workshops for local children and train local fishermen and local leaders. Joëlle’s work creates a system where conservation efforts can make significant, long-lasting change in the community.

Finally, I’d like to recognize the charter members of EPI’s Science Advisory Council, a group of respected scientists who support EPI to maintain the highest scientific standards across the organization. They’ll be prioritizing EPI’s protocols on data sharing, ecosystem management, and research. Find out more about this group and its members on this page.

If you’d like to join us at a field site, like Dick and Sharon, please let me know. We’ve got travel opportunities to the Galapagos, Costa Rica, and Mexico waiting for you!

Best Wishes,



Scott Pankratz co-founded Ecology Project International in 2000 and currently serves as the organization’s Executive Director. His strengths lie in integrating research and education, bringing a common vision to a range of stakeholders, and non-profit administration. As Director, he cultivates the partnerships that are essential to successful programming and directs organizational resources to achieve the full extent of our mission. After 10 successful years of leading EPI, Scott was awarded the Blanche Hornbeck Award in 2010 for outstanding work in the field of nature education from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Scott is on the board of the Montana Nonprofit Association and the Montana Community Foundation and is a Fellow of the Academy for Systemic Change. Scott holds an M.S. from the University of Montana and a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara, both in Environmental Studies. He has two children, Natalie and Lucas, with his wife Julie Osborn.


Photo credits: Rhys Roberts

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