Tag Archives: education

Jaguars At A Biocultural Leadership Conference in Panama

From Julie

In November, Lucy and I participated in events launching Earth Train’s not-for-profit Center for Biocultural Leadership in Panama City. Earth Train partners with many other organizations namely JGI’s Roots and Shoots, Junglewood, and Fundacion Danilo Perez and its mission is to support the growth of leadership in a new generation with a focus on environmental and cultural renewal.

One morning comprised of an educators and nature leaders workshop led by Bruce and Carol Malnor.

Earth Train & Junglewood Biocultural Leadership, Panama, November 2013 ©Art of ConservationI joined a group of educators in Panama and learned about the Manor’s Flow Learning teaching strategy.

We had an evening of music and dance in Panama’s City of Knowledge theater called The Ateneo. Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, spoke to the crowd and performers with inspiring words and a serious call to care.

Earth Train & Junglewood Biocultural Leadership, Panama, November 2013 ©Art of ConservationDr. Jane Goodall, DBE, shares the stage at The Ateneo with the Condor and Eagle Peoples of the Americas and Junglewood’s Shea Welsh.

The entire following day Lucy and I spent out on the Amador Causeway – six kilometers long and made up of four islands originally constructed as a breakwater for the Panama Canal entrance. STRI (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) has research facilities here with the mission to understand biological diversity throughout the tropics.

On the causeway is Frank Gehry’s BioMuseo scheduled to open soon. Gehry substitutes his usual neutral, metallic color palette with an allusion of Panama’s tropical environs.

Frank Gehry's Biomuseo, Panama, November 2013 ©Art of ConservationFrank Gehry-designed Museum of Biodiversity (Biomuseo).

The event held a packed agenda which did not allow for many AoC one-health awareness activities but we did manage to sneak in a surprise or two. Prior to traveling to Panama I contacted my friend Khanh to ask her if she could make a few (6) jaguar costumes. Khanh is always extremely busy but she made time for me. We found a pattern that worked, picked out beautiful brightly colored batik fabric, stuffing material for the tails, and off Khanh went to her studio. She surfaced a few weeks later with the cutest costumes which I eagerly packed in my suitcase.

Biomuseo, Panama, November 2013 ©Lucy SpelmanAt the Junglewood Picnic. Photo courtesy of Lucy Spelman.

Our friend Shea Welsh, a fabulous jazz musician and Junglewood’s Executive Director, asked if the jaguars could make their appearance at the Junglewood Picnic staged at the causeway. Seeing that the large group of children gathered for the event were busy pounding on drums, my friends and I decided not to interrupt them… just join them. We leapt onto the scene and danced.

Biomuseo, Panama, November 2013 ©Lucy SpelmanJaguars with Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, at the Junglewood Picnic. Photo courtesy of Lucy Spelman.

Lucy and I got up early the next morning to traverse across Panama in a few short days. We managed to make it up to the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean and met with the Kuna La Indians. After spending the night on a tiny island with coconut trees and women making beautiful molas which I bought many of we snorkeled and drank a can of not so tasty warm beer. From there we pushed toward the interior along the Chagres River and met with another group on indigenous people from the Embera Nation.

Julie and Lucy with Embera Indians Panama. ©Art of Conservation 2013Near the Chagres River with an Embera community.

Thank you to the Executive Directors at Earth Train, Nathan Gray and Lider Sucre, and Junglewood’s Executive Director Shea Welsh for an exciting conference.

Talking Otters at Yupakari

From Julie

Salvador de Caires joined Lucy, Allison, and I on Day 4 as we ventured by boat to Yupakari Village which is in the North Rupununi region of southern Guyana and about a 30 minute journey from Karanambu Trust and Lodge. While traversing through this terrain one is surely watched by any number of these fascinating animals: Giant River Otter, Black Caiman, Arapaima, jaguar, Giant Anteater, capybara, ocelot, margay, Howler and Capuchin monkeys, tapir, deer, peccaries, fox, frogs, toads, lizards, tortoises, snakes, birds, and insects.

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013At the Caiman House with students.

One of Karanambu Trust and Lodge neighbors and partners who together work on land use schemes is Yupakari Village. Here they offer eco-tourism and a learning center called the Caiman House. I was so impressed with Caiman House and the librarians running it. Books, computers, and classroom are intact and used by the village children.

Fernando Li at Caiman House. ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy, Salvador, Allison, and Fernando at Caiman House.

Fernando Li is the manager of the ‘Rupununi Learners’. After he so kindly got us situated on the top floor – it felt like we were in a fun treehouse – we began working with a group of boys and girls.

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Student Leya Moses studies photographs and paints.

Our focus was on Giant River Otters which the children refer to as ‘river dogs’. Lucy and Allison added to our discussion and moved about the room sharing photographs from Lucy’s previous trips to Karanambu. We used watercolors to paint a proportionally correct otter and illustrate a scene which included one or more river dogs. Thanks again to artist Amy Harris for her proportional drawings she did for us before the trip!

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Samuel Martdehaam busy experimenting with brushes.

At some point during the lively exercise, Lucy, Allison, and I all asked ourselves, “Where are you Eric, Eusebe, Valerie, Innocent, Olivier? We need your help!” Our Rwanda team was sorely missed!

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Student Samuel’s village scene illustration of a river dog, person with a collection of bird eggs delivered by the bird above, and a fisherman.

I loved our afternoon at Caiman House and want to thank Fernando and his colleagues for making it such a special time. Keep up the great work!

Please enjoy Lucy’s Giant River Otter photos below.

Diane McTurk with Giant River Otter  ©Lucy SpelmanDiane McTurk with Sappho and Tsunami. ©Lucy Spelman

Giant River Otter at Karanambu. ©Lucy SpelmanBelle, 2011. ©Lucy Spelman

Buddy at Karanambu. ©Lucy SpelmanBuddy eating an Arapaima.©Lucy Spelman

Please join us at our Exhibition & Fundraiser on November 22nd, 2013. For more information, please click here. Thanks.

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.

November in NYC! Save the Date!

From Julie Ghrist

Hi Friends & Generous Supportors,
AoC is having an exhibition and fundraiser in New York City on Friday, 22 November 2013. Art of Conservation Board Member Cheryl Stockton has worked at Pratt Institute for many years and has secured a fantastic site at Pratt’s Manhattan CCPS Gallery. Please come by if you are in the city! Allison, Cheryl, Lucy Spelman, Andrew Walmsley and I will be there with board members, volunteers, photographers, musicians and incredibly special friends and colleagues. Details will follow as we get closer to the time, but feel free to contact us anytime at [email protected] Thank you, Julie

AoC Exhibition & Fundraiser New York November 2013

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!

Connecting With Friends & Colleagues at Zoos & Aquariums Committing to Conservation Conference

From Julie Ghrist

A few weeks ago Blank Park Zoo hosted the 2013 Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation (ZACC) conference. The conference offered four days of presentations from people all over the world. I was pleased to have the opportunity to present an Art of Conservation poster entitled Evaluating the Impact of Conservation & Health Education Bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

John Lukas at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013John Lukas spoke about the serious work being done to save the okapi. I particularly loved this slide of his presentation… Education is the basis of Conservation.

One of the keynote speakers, President of Okapi Conservation Project in Epulu, Democratic Republic of Congo John Lukas, shared the dire situation of the okapi. Wars, illegal activity, and poor roads are a few of the obstacles facing his team in Epulu.

Martha & Julie at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Houston Zoo’s Martha Parker and I with AoC’s poster.

Martha Parker, from Houston Zoo and AoC Board Member along with Allison Hanes, Cheryl Stockton, and Andrew Walmsley helped me in all kinds of ways putting together the poster. It took time but was worth it. Thanks guys!

I’d like to thank Mark Vukovich, President & CEO of Blank Park Zoo and ZACC’s Steering Committee for putting on this great conference. Please enjoy the photos below. I wish I had pics of everyone… but it was a big crowd!

Regina Pfistermuller, Zoo Vienna at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Regina Pfistermuller from Zoo Vienna presents Flying with the Northern Bald Ibis: The adventure story of a conservation project. Is the bald ibis the ugliest of all rare birds? Perhaps not so pretty but worth saving!

Snow leopard at the market place ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Beautiful handmade work on sale from The Snow Leopard Trust at ZACC’s Marketplace.

Edward Lewis at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Dr. Edward Louis, Jr. from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium gave a great talk about incentivizing community-based reforestation efforts in Madagascar. Look closely, that’s him in the book he is holding along with Russell Mittermeier and lemurs. Love those lemurs and so thankful I have had a chance to see them in the wild in Madagascar.

Peter Riger hosting ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Peter Riger, an AoC hero because he believed in AoC’s work in the first years and has been a supporter, holds a piece of paper with vegetarian on it.

Bengt Holst at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Bengt Holst of Copenhagen Zoo presented one of the most provocative talks regarding the palm companies in Borneo and Sumatra. He and his colleagues are advising with a major palm production company to teach and insist on better practices, hence saving the orangutan and other species from extinction.

Frands Carlsen at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Bengt Holst’s colleague, Frands Carlsen, of Zoo Copenhagen supporting important conservation work in SE Asia.

Miriam & Alejandro at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Miriam Monterroso and Alejandro Morales from Arcas gave us news on their great conservation work in Guatemala. Please expect a visit from me soon!

With Joel Sartore at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Joel Sartore, another keynote speaker, is the founder of The Photo Ark, a multi-year documentary project to save species and habitat. My niece Lizzy and her friend Riley are pictured to the right of Mr. Sartore. RARE is a beautiful book and his stories are enthralling.

Susie at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Conservation Fusion’s Susie McGuire hands down makes learning fun. Her education work in Madagascar helps create diverse partnerships to help endangered species.

Jeff from PIC at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013A nice friend, Jeff from Partners in Conservation adds Rwanda handicrafts to the Marketplace.

Samson at ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013I felt at home meeting Samson at the Ice Breaker at the Iowa State Historical Building. Samson is from Uganda and receives counsel from the wonderful Beth Kaplain from Antioch University and Rwanda”s National University. He is charged and ready to go with conservation work.

Jeff Flocken IFAW keynote ZACC. Art of Conservation 2013Opening the conference was Jeff Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. When you think of the plight polar bears, lions, whales, and so many other species are facing, you got to thank Jeff for his advocation for animals. Please continue Jeff.

Again, thank you Blank Park Zoo for hosting this great conference and to ZACC’s Steering Committee.

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.

Singing for Gorillas – 2013 Children’s Performance Preparations at Art of Conservation

From Julie Ghrist

Art of Conservation is preparing for our 2013 children’s performances with music written and recorded by musicians Kaiser Cartel. Please watch our video below, thanks!

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Preparations for 2013 children’s performances at Art of Conservation

Will You Join Us? AoC at 2013 ZACC Conference Hosted By Blank Park Zoo

From Julie Ghrist

I am really looking forward to participating in the 2013 Zoos and Aquariums: Committing to Conservation conference hosted by the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, July 8th through July 12th. AoC Board Member Martha Petre Parker and I will be presenting our poster entitled Evaluating The Impact of Conservation and Health Education Bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Since AoC’s inception, my team and I have given our students both pre- and post-questionnaires. We’ve been able to discern a lot from the findings and tweak our evaluation methods in relationship to our evolving understanding of the field of conservation and unique culture considerations. Our poster will show evaluation data from our most recent collection of information of 2012 – 2013.

Please join me at the conference. Blank Park Zoo and ZACC are making it easy to sign up for some or all conference activities. I would love to see Des Moines friends and you’ll have a chance to meet exceptional people doing important work around the world.

Innocent teaching. New round tables delivered to AoC classrooms. Art of Conservation 2013AoC’s teacher Innocent inspiring students. Brand new round tables gifted by AoC makes for improved sharing and group work.

If you want to pick up the phone for more information, call Jessie Lowry who is the Conservation Coordinator at Blank Park Zoo at 515-974-2612. Or click here for on-line registration.

Some of the highlighted events taking place during the conference: Icebreaker with a Photo Contest, Movie Night, Zoo Day, Zoo Brew, book signing by Jeff Flocken and Joel Sartore, and Pre & Post Conference trips highlighting the Midwest.

PLUS, Art of Conservation is having a reception after the conference (Sara’s house!) on Friday evening (if you choose not to go to the baseball game – which is a lot fun, by the way!). Details to follow soon.

About ZACC: Committing to Conservation –
This biennial conference provides opportunities for zoo and aquarium personnel and field researchers to meet and develop partnerships that benefit wildlife and wild places around the globe. The informal nature of the conference creates a positive atmosphere for networking and inspires collaborative action. Joining the ZACC conference keynote speaker roster is John Lukas. John Lukas is active in international conservation, the president of White Oak Conservation Center, Inc. and the founding member and president of the International Rhino Foundation.

ZACC Mission Statement –
The mission of the Zoos and Aquariums: Committing to Conservation (ZACC) conference is to encourage and promote increased involvement of zoos and aquariums in support of field conservation – locally, nationally and internationally.

I hope to see you in July! Please come out and support Blank Park Zoo, outstanding conservation field work, and of course Art of Conservation! Thank you, Julie