Tag Archives: environment

A Visit To A Garifuna School & Appreciating An Environmental Hero

From Julie

After our stay near Pico Bonito and Los Micos national parks outside of La Ceiba in Honduras, Allison, Lucy, and I traveled along the northern Caribbean coast to the town of Tela. Mark Pouchie, a guide with Garifuna Tours was stuck with us over the following three days because we would not let him go. He has lived in Tela for years and knows just about everything and everyone. A link to Garifuna Tours-request Mark Pouchie to be your guide!

The town of Tela in Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014A view of the Caribbean and the town of Tela from our lodging at Hotel Maya.

As with all local communities we have been visiting in the Mesoamerican region, one of our top priorities is to meet with teachers and schoolchildren. We met with a talented teacher, Carla, and her niece who is a translator, Cinthia. We had a wonderful dinner together discussing their one-health awareness needs. The next morning we met Carla and Cinthia at Carla’s school despite it being a weekend.

With Carla and Cinthia at Centro de Educacion Basica Esteban Guardiola, Tela, Honduras ©Art of Conservation 2014With Carla, Cinthia, and children at Centro de Educacion Basica Esteban Guardiola.

Mark drove us to a nearby Garifuna village at Triunfo de la Cruz to met Carla and Cinthia. The school has 614 students, 26 teachers, 1 computer lab, and as Carla repeated more than once…an empty room for Art of Conservation programming!

After a fantastic visit to the school and the Garifuna village, Mark took Lucy, Allison, and I to an art studio called El Aura. The studio itself is a beautiful wooden Caribbean small house with paintings – mostly acrylic – from floor to ceiling.

With artists at El Aura Galeria de Arte in Tela, Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Honduran artists, Cruz and Lopez, share with Allison and Lucy at El Aura art studio in Tela.

I purchased three small canvas paintings of beach and mangrove scenes which warm my soul during the cold Iowa winter I am experiencing.

Our next stop was just outside the town to the Lancetilla Botanical Garden. The Visitors Center is inspiring. Walls of posters provide excellent information on the biodiversity of the region. The grounds display trees of many species and abundant birds species.

Lancetilla Botanical Gardens in Tela, Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Informative posters exhibited at Lancetilla Botanical Garden visitors center.

Chills ran down my spin when Mark began telling us about a Honduran environmental activist named Jeanette Kawas. The fate of Ms. Kawas has the unfortunate resemblance of another famous woman who did her best to study and protect the Critically Endangered mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey. Jeanette Kawas was murdered in 1995 for her fight to stop illegal deforestation and to protect the Tela bay region. Two armed men shot her and to this day no one has been arrested for the crime.

Jeannette Kawas National Park. Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Jeanette Kawas National Park

We arrived at Jeanette Kawas National Park by boat. After jumping onto the beach we hiked through the rainforest, spotted Howler Monkeys, discovered animal tracks, and contemplated the brave acts of a brave woman. If not for her vision, the area could possibly be denuded of its natural beauty and significance and populated with a long string of hotels and development.

Garifuna Tours Guide Mark at Jeannette Kawas NP. Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Guide Mark explaining so much great information about this special place in the Mesoamerican Region.

Snorkling, strolling on the beach, and a fresh coconut before getting back on the boat to Tela made our day one of my favorites!

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Meeting Mesoamerican Reef Region Partners

From Julie

Soon to call the Mesoamerican Region our new Art of Conservation home, I am busy as ever with stacks of books and multiple tabs open on my computer studying the varied ecosystems found in this place on Earth. Where is this eco-region? It extends from the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula southward toward Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Over the recent winter holidays I was joined by AoC’s Lucy and Allison in Honduras. Our main goal was to meet Jenny Myton of Coral Reef Alliance and her husband, Ian Drysdale, of Healthy Reefs for Healthy People on the island of Roatan, the place they call home. Crazy winter weather nearly usurped this opportunity! Finally Jenny and Ian arrived and all was great.

With Jenny at Roatan. Honduras 2014. ©Art of ConservationOn one of the three Bay Islands – Roatan – in Honduras with Jenny, her dog, and Allison.

Jenny and Ian, a superstar couple with years of dynamic environmental work and advocacy, opened doors for us on Roatan and the north coast mainland outside of the cities of La Ceiba and Tela.

Allison with Ian and dogs. Roatan, Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Ian and Allison with happy dogs.

Lucy, Allison, and I wanted to learn more about the human cultures, indigenous peoples, and ecosystems under stress and to determine if Art of Conservation could be an additive effort in the region. We received such kind and honest openness from everyone we met. And believe me, we drilled anyone who crossed our path with a myriad questions.

Roatan, Honduras. ©Art of ConservationA whole new world appears under the surface of the Caribbean Sea.

Groups of dedicated individuals, organizations, and policy makers put out a report card indicating reef health. Healthy Reefs for Healthy People’s 2012 report is here.

With Christi at Roatan Marine Park. Honduras. ©Art of ConservationLucy with Christi Etches, Director of Community Development at Roatan Marine Park.

Reestablishing destroyed mangroves, initiating recycling programs, and fitting kids with a scuba tank and gear are just a few of the activities Christi Etches conducts in her role as a community leader on Roatan.

Local artist Noah at Rusty Fish on Roatan. ©Art of Conservation 2014Noah, a local artist employed at The Rusty Fish on Roatan shows us art made from recycled materials.

Mongabay.com has excellent coverage on Honduras.

I think you can see that we met terrific people doing incredible work. I have more to share about Honduras and Art of Conservation’s exciting new global efforts.

Please keep up-to-date on more Art of Conservation & Conservation Heritage – Turambe news with our e-newsletter. Simply send us your name and contact information to [email protected] Thank you!

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.

Thank You Friends! What Would We Do Without You? NYC Part 2

Here is another batch of photos – courtesy of Jason Rearick and Marcus Alexander of Epoch Times – from our special evening with friends at AoC’s Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in Manhattan.

Thank you again to our sponsors, volunteers, board members, musicians, Pratt faculty, friends and family. A special thanks for new funding offered by the Norman and Bettina Roberts Foundation.

Dave & Lucy at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Dave and Lucy.

Keynote by Lucy at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013A slide from Dr. Lucy Spelman’s excellent keynote. She asks, “How can we help people feel closer to wild animals the way they feel about their pets?”

Jolie at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013I am so happy to see and talk with my longtime childhood friend Jolie!

Missing CHT at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Andrew and Allison take time out to reflect on the Conservation Heritage – Turambe team in Rwanda and how much we all miss them.

Julie, Jocelyn, Cheryl. Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013I am here with ceramics artist Jocelyn and our fabulous hostess Cheryl.

Tracy & Crystal Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Honorary Board Member Tracy Levine and an extraordinary volunteer, Crystal, share a moment in front of photography on display.

Dalton at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Another extraordinary volunteer DALTON!

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Allison with artist Rodrigo Valles.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Daniel, Scarlett, and Dawn are kind supporters of AoC.

Thanks again everyone for a successful event.

Thank You Friends! What Would We Do Without You? NYC Part 1

Thank you for making our Exhibition & Fundraiser at Pratt Institute Manhattan a very special event.

Sponsors, volunteers, board members, musicians, Pratt faculty, friends and family generated the most positive energy for a common goal to make Earth a more healthy place for all.

Please enjoy the photos below courtesy of Jason Rearick and Marcus Alexander of Epoch Times. Click here for more coverage of the evening at Epoch Times. I wish I had had my camera too but it was so nice to have time with guests. Dr. Lucy Spelman’s keynote was well received with everyone commenting afterward that the one-health concept becomes clearer and clearer all the time and the need for a multidisciplinary approach to conservation is essential. More photos are surfacing, but for now here you go. Be sure not to miss our famous photographer Andrew Walmsley dressed up in his magnificent kilt straight off the plane from Scotland! Thank you again and again from the Art of Conservation team.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Allison with Philip Choi and Joseph Canciglia of the Norman and Bettina Roberts Foundation.

Jackie & Julia at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Jacky and Julia help with auction items and merchandise.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013A roomful of wonderful friends.

Andrew, Julie, Allison, Cheryl. AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Andrew, Julie, Allison, and Cheryl. Allison and Cheryl did a fabulous job putting together the event!

Musicians Courtney and Benjamin at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Courtney and Benjamin of Kaiser Kartel play a sampling of music written for AoC.

Musician Rubin Kodheli at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013At the close of the evening we listened to beautiful cello music composed and played by Rubin Kodheli.

Lori Howe at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Board member Lori Howe viewing and purchasing photos on display.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Allison with Daniel Azarian and Wendy Kaplan.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Exciting auction items!

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Paintings and gift bags!

A successful evening thanks to all.

Kwaimatta Village in South America

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While in most parts of the world everyone seems to be exploiting natural resources, cutting down rain forests, destroying fragile ecosystems, Guyana is doing something different. Under its Low Carbon Development Strategy, Guyana receives USD 50 million per year from international partners to protect its forests. Of course one needs to read in more detail to discern the pros and cons to this, but let’s be thankful for this long-term development plan and hope it works and others follow. Guyanas rain forests benefit us all no matter where we live.

The Karanambu team took Allison, Lucy, and I to communities in the Northern Rupununi to conduct our one health conservation activities. This entailed boating to get to the schools.

Geography at Kwaimatta Village. ©Art of Conservation 2013I started off with a geography activity. This young girl marched right up to the world map and placed the South America card in the absolutley correct place.

Our first village – Kwaimatta (Massara)- is the closest and perhaps most secluded of all three we visited. In general, this area is a critical watershed between the Amazon and Essequibo rivers. The open savanna and riverine plain is stunning.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013We talked about the local animals and discussed what makes them so special and then out came the markers, crayons, and paper masks.

A number of the children attending Kwaimatta Primary School have parents that are employed by the Karanambu Trust and Lodge.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Children decorating their animal masks.

As you may remember from a previous post, Des Moines artist Amy Harris helped AoC with the otter, monkey, jaguar, macaw, and arapaima masks. Thanks again Amy! Do you love the masterpieces?

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Blue jaguars in Guyana? Right on!

Here I am in a new part of the world – experiencing new cultures and trying out AoC’s curricula. It is safe to say that no matter where you are children want to learn and discover.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Salvador tries to scare the kids with his Red Howler Monkey mask. I think they are on to Salvador! Not scared at all.

We had a few extra moments to end our time at Kwaimatta so I did a quick oral health lesson with toothbrushes and paste for everyone.

Oral health at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Allison and Salvador distribute toothbrushes and paste.

Diane McTurk with students at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Diane McTurk with her Kwaimatta Village children.

It was a pleasure to end our class with outdoor craziness including singing and showing appreciation to the villages’ beloved Aunti Di.

Please join us at Pratt NYC on November 22nd. Get your tickets here!

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.

For The Birds

From Julie Ghrist

We have spent many evenings and weekends recently painting birdhouses which were built at the AoC office. Because of limited classroom time our students didn’t get the opportunity to decorate the houses themselves, maybe next time.

Preparing a nice bird house. Art of Conservation 2013A student prepares a birdhouse by putting grasses inside.

This is truly an experiment! Birdhouses are nowhere to be seen in these parts of Northern Rwanda. My team and I think it’s a worthwhile experience nevertheless.

Hanging bird houses. Art of Conservation 2013Students look for perfect branches to hang their houses.

After lively discussions, we made our way outside to the school woodlots we’ve established over the years.

In the trees. Art of Conservation 2013With a GoPro on his head, a student reaches for more birdhouses from below.

A ladder was propped up against trees as well as a little climbing – whatever the mode of ascension – the school playgrounds and woodlots started looking so beautiful with the new houses.

Hanging bird houses. Art of Conservation 2013Little Lititia, in the foreground, is not an AoC student but seems to be with us always!

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.