Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, are 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.
"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."