Collaborating with the Galapagos National Park Service 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 (GNP) 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 14-15) 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 GNP 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, collect 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 facing the Galapagos.
Dr. Stephen Blake is a renowned scientist, exceptional teacher, and inspirational mentor for EPI students. He is famous for his extensive work with elephants in Africa and is the top giant tortoise researcher in the Galapagos Islands. Stephen involves EPI students in his work because he hopes to inspire youth to conserve this distinctive species and its habitat, and to share how real scientists work. EPI students participate in his research by counting the different seeds in tortoise dung, to determine giant tortoise migration and seed dispersal of native and invasive plant species. Students also take part in his... Learn More
Grad student from North Huntingdon sets off for Galapagos research program
Originally published in TribLive.
At 26, Amy Owens is the same age as Charles Darwin when he voyaged to the Galapagos Islands. And this summer, she will travel there with 11 other Miami University students.
The North Huntingdon native's journey is one of several she has taken through her master's degree program. The Global Field Program, part of the university's Project Dragonfly, sent Owens to Belize in the summer of 2015 and Namibia last summer.
“It's a new kind of adventure,” Owens said. “It gives you a really unique insight into the habitat itself.”
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