Category Archives: Conservation & Health Education

AoC’s World Premier Short Film at New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

From Julie

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Art of Conservation’s Allison Hanes and Cheryl Stockton helped present our World Premier Short Film at New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in October. This film was made to share with the public the successful work AoC has been carrying out in Rwanda for over seven years, as well as highlight our present expansion with new initiatives in Guyana, Panama, and other locations this year.

New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival October 2013

Thank you New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival for putting together talented compassionate individuals and groups doing amazing conservation work. It helps keep the spark alive being surrounded by the energy of such wonderful people doing such important work.

AoC’s Exhibition & Fundraiser is quickly approaching. Click here and get your tickets today!

For more information and ways to get involved with AoC please email info@art-of-conservation.org.

One-Health Conservation At Karanambu

From Julie Ghrist

More on our recent trip to Guyana-

Andrea and Salvador de Caires manage the Karanambu Trust and Eco-tourist Lodge in Guyana, South America. Visitors are spoiled by their delicious garden-to-table snacks and meals, rum punches, and more. Andrea and Salador have lived such interesting lives and bring their experiences to Karanambu so with partners they are making it a perfect example of one-health conservation. What do I mean by one-health? Take a closer look at what goes on at Karanambu every day… research, training, tourism, community development, wildlife rehabilitation, wild & domesticated animal health, human health, water projects, environmental education, partnerships with surrounding eco-lodges and NGO’s, creating sustainable jobs for the local Makushi Ameridian population. And the list is not complete but I think you’ll agree it’s a lot for this off the beaten track enclave in the far interior of the country. One health conservation involves the consideration and practice for saving species by realizing that all living things are connected. There is hardly an aspect at Karanambu that is not being mindfully treated.

Please enjoy the following pictures and meet the special people of Karanambu. Allison, Lucy, and I miss them and look forward to seeing them again.

Andrea de Caires manages Karanambu Lodge. ©Art of Conservation 2013Andrea de Caires and friend Oswin. Oswin is a graduate from Dr. Godfrey Bourne’s CEIBA Biological Center ecology course and an artist.

At Kwaimatta Village with Salvador. ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy, Salvador, Kwaimatta Primary School headteacher Iris, Diane McTurk, and school teacher. Iris is so pleased to receive a copy of Lucy’s recently published National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia. Click here to order your copy.

Jerry with his camera traps. ©Art of Conservation 2013Gerry Pereira. Gerry, the nicest guy, is everywhere doing everything at Karanambu. Here he is pictured fixing one of his camera traps during our morning hikes.

Jerry at his computer inputing data from his camera traps. ©Art of Conservation 2013Gerry inputing to his already huge database of the biodiversity in the area. He showed me loads of photos of the magnificent animals passing by his numerous camera traps.

Ronica at Karanambu. ©Art of Conservation 2013Ronica. Ronica, another graduate from the ecology course, is a fabulous role-model to her peers in the rural villages. She is making an income and furthering her education while keeping her strong connections with her land.

Getting of the plane. ©Art of Conservation 2013Royal, Marcie, son of Marvin’s, Marvin. Loving care is given to all members of the Karanambu family. Nurse Marcie transports a sick family member back to Karanambu to be close to his loved ones.

Salvador with Nurse Marcie. ©Art of Conservation 2013Marcie and Salvador. Relieved to get a sick family member back to Karanambu, Salvador and Marcie breathe a sigh of relief.

Thank you again Andrea and Salvador for your lovely hospitality.
More to come… classroom activities and animals!

Please go to www.karanambutrustandlodge.org for more information.

Artist Amy Harris Helps AoC

From Julie Ghrist

Allison, Lucy, and I are on our way to the Karanambu Trust and Eco-Lodge in Guyana, South America tomorrow for a week of activities with the local people in the North Rupununi region. Being invited and accompanined by Dr. Lucy Spelman, an AoC Board Member and active team member at the Karanambu Trust, is an honor. We are frantically putting together our supplies and education materials. Tomorrow morning is going to come quickly! Why even sleep tonight since we are leaving for our respective airports at 4:00am and still much to do?

With Amy Harris in Des Moines. Art of Conservation 2013Sitting with Amy Harris discussing animals, science, culture, and art.

I couldn’t have done all the prep work for the trip without the generous contribution from artist Amy Harris. Amy, an Iowa native, with a MFA and BFA in painting is a senior lecturer at Iowa State University’s College of Design. Amy loves drawing which is great because I asked her two weeks ago if she could create proportional drawings of the Giant River Otter, jaguar, Red Howler Monkey as well as straight on black and white outline drawings of these animals plus an arapaima fish and Red & Green Macaw. Her drawings are beautiful. I can hardly wait to meet the Amerindians of Guyana and work together with them with AoC’s one-health conservation education and health awareness activities. Truly a dream for me. Amy is expecting to see all of the photographs that Allison, Lucy, and I take of the children busy with the art activities.

Amy Harris with macaw drawing. Art of Conservation 2013This morning at Amy’s front door… picking up the last of the masks – the Red & Green Macaw.

To see Amy’s work please find her at Bent Edge Alchemy. Her work with fabric is beautiful. She tells me she had a lot of fun with these animal drawing exercises – I’m glad because she helped AoC in a BIG way!

Giant River Otter mask. Original drawing by artist Amy Harris. Art of Conservation. 2013Colored in Giant River Otter mask. Here we come Guyana!

Thank you Amy for your support. Once we return, we’ll share with you how you’ve helped touched minds, hearts, and imaginations in Guyana.

The job and everyday life-style of taking care of our animals, natural spaces, children, human & animal health is a joint effort by people of all disciplines. I hope that this is clearer to more people around the world. Artists, scientists, teachers, health professionals, tour operators, Moms and Dads, and on and on all need to be engaged in caring for our home, Earth.

Join AoC at the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo

From Julie Ghrist

Art of Conservation’s Executive Director, Allison Hanes, will be an expo associate at the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in October. If you are in San Francisco, please drop by to say hello to her and learn more about AoC’s one-health conservation education and health awareness programs as well as listen to Jane Goodall -WCN’s keynote speaker. Thank you!
WCN Expo October 2013

From WCN-
Each year WCN brings together the world’s best wildlife conservationists to exhibit and speak about issues concerning endangered species around the world. In 2013 Jane Goodall, DBE will once again be our keynote speaker! Other attendees will include Sir Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants, Dr. Laurie Marker of Cheetah Conservation Fund, and the rest of the WCN Partners.

October 12, 2013
10am to 6pm
Mission Bay Conference Center
San Francisco, CA
Keynote Speaker: Jane Goodall, DBE

AoC Completes Six-Year Rwandan Program

From Julie Ghrist

Dear Friends,
In case our exciting transition news has not reached you yet I am posting it here. Art of Conservation and Conservation Heritage – Turambe work would not be possible without your support. Thank you, Julie

ART OF CONSERVATION COMPLETES SIX-YEAR RWANDAN PROGRAM WITH LAUNCH OF LOCALLY-DIRECTED OFFSHOOT ORGANIZATION

International nonprofit to extend one-health conservation education and awareness initiative worldwide; will launch a new program in Guyana next month

Art of Conservation (AoC) caps off six years of successful conservation education programming in Rwanda with the exciting announcement that its local staff are launching their own nonprofit, Conservation Heritage – Turambe (CHT). Turambe means “let us be sustainable” in Kinyarwanda. CHT will carry on independently of AoC by 2014.

Golden Monkey trek AoC Team. Art of Conservation 20132010 team trek to Golden Monkeys in Volcanoes National Park. Left to right: Olivier, Valerie, Innocent, Eric, Eusebe.

“The creation of CHT is incredibly exciting,” says Julie Ghrist, AoC Founder and Program Director. “When we launched our Rwandan program six years ago, we hoped to engage children in conservation, for the benefit of the mountain gorillas as well as for them, their communities, and the environment. We are so pleased to be able to leave a legacy in Rwanda, and AoC will help support the work of the new CHT organization as it develops.”

Eric & Eusebe at Nyange School, Rwanda. Hanging bird houses. Art of Conservation 2013Eusebe and Eric carrying ladder for hanging birdhouses. Nyange School.

The next step for AoC is to expand its programming beyond Rwanda. The Executive Team is actively researching potential locations and partners. “Our art-inspired lesson plans and leadership development programs have universal application,” says Ms. Hanes, Executive Director. “We are very grateful to all who supported our efforts in Rwanda and look forward to expanding AoC programs worldwide.”

Innocent Uwizeye. Art of Conservation. Nyange School 2013Innocent with lots of schoolchildren. Nyange School.

Next month, Ms. Ghrist will join AoC Executive Director Allison Hanes and AoC Board Member Dr. Lucy Spelman to launch a new AoC one-health conservation education and awareness program in Guyana, South America. AoC will partner with Karanambu Trust and Lodge and local communities in the North Rupununi region, a unique wetland/savanna ecosystem that is home to several endangered animals, including giant otters, giant river turtles, giant anteaters, jaguars, howler monkeys, and arapaima—a large freshwater fish.

More information contact info@art-of-conservation.org

Please stay involved with us!

Keep up-to-date on AoC and CHT activities and events by reading our blogs and news at www.art-of-conservation.org and please consider sharing your experience with your friends and family. For more information such as volunteering or to sign up to our monthly newsletter please email info@art-of-conservation.org. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and Youtube.

Allison & Cheryl Plant Trees at Rushubi & Nyange Schools

From Julie Ghrist

The days were perfect for a week of planting trees with 200 plus children. We packed our truck with seedlings, hoes, jerry cans of water and more and worked our way to schools located next to the park. Andrew Walmsley, an amazing photographer and friend, captured these wonderful pictures.

Planting trees at Art of Conservation 2013AoC student Innocent is ready to plant his seedling at the Rushubi School woodlot.

Cheryl Stockton helps plant trees at Rushubi School, Rwanda. Art of Conservation 2013AoC Board Member Cheryl Stockton and students.

Planting trees in Rwanda. Art of Conservation 2013Students plant trees in our established woodlots at schools located next to Volcanoes National Park.

Allison Hanes helps plant trees at Nyange School, Rwanda. Art of Conservation 2013AoC’s ED Allison Hanes with very happy children…. and gorilla.

The team, children, and I loved having Andrew, Allison, and Cheryl with us. Thank you guys!

Sports for Gorillas In Rwanda Is Great Thanks To John Terpkosh/NJTL

From Julie Ghrist

Art of Conservation recently received a remarkable gift of $1000 from National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) of Des Moines thanks to our supporter John Terpkosh.

Thank you John Terpkosh! Art of Conservation 2013Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club’s Coach Rachid installs a new tennis net thanks to NJTL.

Olivier Habimana, the president of Musanze District’s Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club, immediately put the generous grant money to the purchase and installation of a much needed new net. Funds left over has been allocated to the clubs monthly maintenance of water and electricity fees.

Thank you John for your continued support. I know first-hand how your goodness has benefited many individuals and communities.

Tapping Into Splendid Imagination Before Planting Trees

From Julie Ghrist

In June, Allison and Cheryl (AoC’s ED and Board Member respectively) arrived from the US while photographer friend Andrew joined us in Rwanda from the UK. All travelers were willing and able to help the team in all ways possible. Our first afternoon together was at the office and included practicing our ‘becoming trees’ exercise. Cheryl practices movement with dedication so with Valerie the two were the most exquisitely inspirational teachers for this exercise.

Becoming trees at Art of Conservation 2013At the office, Valerie guides us in a creative exercise of imagining we are trees.

In the classroom, asked to find space in a rather crowded classroom Cheryl and Valerie guide the children in various stages of a tree. Beginning as a seed to imagining our toes are the roots and our skin the bark to our fingers leaves fluttering in the wind. Our arms are strong branches which monkeys, gorillas, and insects can move upon.

Becoming trees at Art of Conservation 2013Cheryl and Valerie inspire children to consider themselves as a seed in the ground to a grown tree.

Fully energized the children race out of the classroom to plant trees.

Fun lessons. Art of Conservation 2013Students bring along bat and monkey puppets, spiders, and more to plant trees.

Extra Fun Classes

From Julie Ghrist

What an exciting bunch of classes we’ve had recently. Having Allison, Cheryl, and Andrew with us in Rwanda has been the best too! Along with all of the work we are doing at the office time together in the field has been excellent. It means a lot to the team and I to have them with us plus they are taking tons of photos.

New t-shirts! Art of Conservation 2013I explain to the children that the artwork on the t-shirts was created by former AoC students.

Annually, our students receive AoC t-shirts. As you would imagine, they were happy to receive their very own.

Putting on t-shirts. Art of Conservation 2013Allison and Olivier help the children put on their new shirts.

The children also receive their decorated envelopes containing worksheets and artwork they’ve been producing in our classes.

Art of Conservation Rwanda 2013Student Innocent proudly shows his envelope and birdhouse he will soon be hanging in the school woodlot.

Decorated envelopes returned. Art of Conservation 2013Samuel shows us his worksheet from an exercise in decorative line drawing.

More fun class activities coming up.

Week One Visit to Art of Conservation

From Allison Hanes

Two full days of travel and three plane rides later I arrive late Tuesday June 4th in Kigali, Rwanda with Art of Conservation (AoC) board member Cheryl Stockton and photographer friend/colleague Andrew Walmsley. The first thing I notice off the plane is that distinct musky yet floral smell of Africa! It’s nice to be back to East Africa after two years. We travel by car up and around in mountains about an hour to Musanze welcomed by new friends, including four friendly dogs at The Garden House, a friend’s bed and breakfast nearby Art of Conservation. On our beds are beautiful paper maché gorilla masks made by the Rwandan AoC team and our full exciting itinerary for the month ahead.

The following morning after a proper African breakfast, Julie starts out our trip and adventure in Rwanda by picking us up and taking us to the Art of Conservation compound just a few streets away. Again we receive a warm welcome by Julie’s dogs, new friends, neighbors and staff. The tour is impressive, including a beautiful flower and vegetable garden with giant corn stalks, composting site, rain water collection tank, array of recycled bird feeders and birdhouses, art studio and several common areas filled with beautiful artwork.

Art of Conservation garden. June 2013Art of Conservation garden.

Bird house painting at Art of Conservation June 2013Bird houses in the works being painted and varnished by AoC staff and friends.

We make introductions. I share Ghirardelli chocolates from San Francisco and Cheryl “I Love NY” shirts for the staff. We instantly adore our smiling kind new friends.

Cheryl with team and new I Love You t-shirts. Art of Conservation June 2013Olivier, Cheryl, Eusebe, Valerie, Eric and Innocent full of smiles.

Allison and team with chocolate. Art of Conservation 2013Eric, Valerie and myself enjoying San Francisco Ghiradelli chocolates.

We unpack and layout our photography gear organizing lenses and learning all about our new toys, which some of us particularly myself, are yet to play with. Nikon, Canon, Apple and GoPro equipment overflow the table and we immediately start flicking through manuals and dialing in settings ready for our early morning trek to the mountain gorillas.

Enough equipment? Art of Conservation 2013Do you think we have enough equipment?

Thursday morning we are up before sunrise ready to hike up Volcanoes National Park. Cheryl, Julie and myself trek to the furthest gorilla family, Susa, which has three silverbacks. My previous experience of tracking gorillas for three months in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda proved useful in preparing me for the day ahead but I still found the trek not to be all that easy. The high-altitude was very noticeable especially since we had limited time to acclimatize. However, we made it to the group without any trouble and I managed to handle Andrew’s special 300mm f2.8 lens for the hour-long session. You can tell by my shots and GoPro filming comments that the equipment was heavy! I was still able to get some great shots and had a wonderful time. It was one of the best gorilla treks I have experienced, particularly because I could share the experience with new friends and colleagues.

Trekking gorillas. Art of Conservation 2013In the forest with Julie.

Furry mountain gorillas. AoC 2013Rwandan gorillas are much furrier than the Ugandan population because of the higher elevation and cooler climate.

We had a grand time and our guide “D” joined us in our celebration dinner at Muhabura Restaurant. Julie always likes to celebrate after a good day of gorilla trekking and we are full of laughs. Each day I feel luckier to work with such inspiring, talented, hard working and fun colleagues.

Friday we get right into meetings and prepare for week two classes. I’ve noticed pretty much everyday at AoC we find ourselves singing, dancing and acting! I’m learning so many new things here in Rwanda. We also paint birdhouses with Eric and Eusebe and end the evening with a party in AoC’s garden and bungalow. Julie’s friend Alberto cooks us up a feast and Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) friends and colleagues join us to make another great close to the night.

Group meeting in bingalow. Art of Conservation 2013Let the work begin.

Saturday we all meet at the tennis courts. One of AoC’s most significant programs is the Ibirunga Tennis and Running Club. Olivier was recently nominated president and Valerie treasurer. AoC murals, plants and flowers decorate the grounds. The nets look like they have had their run and I am happy to know that by the end of the month through a USTA grant the club will have two brand new nets!

Tennis with Art of Conservation 2013Julie runs tennis drills and exercise with the children. I pick up a racquet after several years.

Cheryl guiding yoga at the courts.  Art of Conservation 2013Cheryl cools us down leading us in a yoga session and then I get to play a good high-energy game of tennis with Johnny, one of the best tennis players in the community.

Ibirunga Tennis & Running ClubThese kids fill you with joy and energy!

After a great workout I quickly take a shower and we head off to find our Batwa friend or as Rwandans now call her – “marginalized indigenous woman.” However, the dramatic driving adventure in search of Marie Rose is unsuccessful and instead we follow Art of Conservation’s dear friend and partner Cecil to her village for dancing. We bring sacks for rice, beans and a jerry can of banana beer. Cecil is a very special woman that Art of Conservation has been working with for years and is famous throughout Rwanda. To learn more about her Saving the Forests Briquette Initiative read here.

Sunday we are still full of energy editing photos, working and preparing for the remaining few weeks. Monday is our first day of classes at one of our two local schools and the fun has just begun!