Galapagos Islands, Amazon rainforest, Andes Mountains…all teeming with life and colorful native cultures but also facing many human-imposed threats, making them the perfect natural laboratory to empower the next generation of conservation leaders.
Working Side by Side
The Galapagos Islands are a spectacular natural laboratory, renowned for their endemic biodiversity.
Yet many of these unique species are under threat of extinction. EPI is supporting the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) to provide a year-long conservation education degree program to all high school juniors. Approved by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education, this program was institutionalized across the island’s nine high schools and achieved participation by 50% of all Galapagueño students (age 15-17) within the first year. This is the next generation; they hold the key to long-lasting conservation efforts on these incredible islands.
To accomplish the goals of this initiative, EPI and GNPS staff are working side by side engaging teens in conservation research focused on giant tortoises led by Dr. Stephen Blake. Both local Galapagueño and visiting U.S. students learn ecology and biology firsthand by collecting data on a keystone species, and help restore native habitat to ensure the survival of Galapagos’ wildlife and the protection of its vulnerable ecosystems. Pre-course and post-course programming provide additional leadership skills to local youth that build critical thinking skills, a personal conservation ethic, and an awareness of environmental issues the Galapagos is facing.
From the Amazon Rainforest to high altitude grasslands, the natural beauty of continental Ecuador takes your breath away
The Amazon rainforest covers 50% of Ecuador territory and is home to remarkable biodiversity of species. It is also a place rich in different indigenous cultures that still live traditionally to different extents and speak various native languages.
Extensive high altitude grasslands of the Andes mountain range are home to elusive Andean bears and Mountain Tapirs among other species and an important reservoir of water supply for more populated areas like the country’s capital Quito.
Deforestation, oil exploitation, mining activities, expansion of the agricultural land and climate change are just a few of the challenges these ecosystems and the native communities are facing, therefore creating a need and opportunity to work with local youth to empower them to engage in conservation activities.
EPI Amazonia started its journey very recently in 2017 in partnership with Andean Bear Foundation. Our students help with reforestation efforts and immerse themselves in local culture in the Amazon rainforest and in the Andes they help the researcher Armando Castellanos with threatened Andean bear and Mountain tapir conservation efforts. We aspire to grow our program so that we can work with more local communities in the Andes as well as the Amazon to be able to inspire and empower the young generation’s decisions on how to treat these globally very important ecosystems.
"This course made me open my eyes and see what is really happening with the ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. Each activity gave me a better understanding of how waste, leaving the lights on, and using too much water affects the environment and animals."