Para La Tierra's End of Year Fundraiser
Team Member: Alyssa Ridley
Para la Tierra has been my home for almost four months now. Many people back home have asked me, “Why Paraguay?” Most of the time I have just smiled and said, “Well, why not?” But, over the course of this week, let me tell you why Paraguay.
For the past two and a half years I have been pursuing my Master's in Conservation Biology through Miami University's Project Dragonfly program. I have focused my research on the impact of transformative experiences on environmental stewardship, looking both at donor behavior and lifestyle changes. Through this program I have had the chance to travel to Baja California, Australia, and the Galapagos. But none of these experiences felt long enough. So I decided that I wanted a more long-term experience and to throw my research into the field.
And thus, Para la Tierra came along. What was so magical to me about Para la Tierra was that I would get the chance to work not just with my own research, but get to experience bits and pieces of everything going on here, and especially get my first in the field experience with primates. The first day walking into the Atlantic Forest with Becca to find the Hooded Capuchins (Sapajus cay) I remember thinking to myself about the difference between reading about how the Atlantic Forest is classified as extinct and the threats to the species there and actually being here, right now, tracking the monkeys and knowing that if something were to happen to Para la Tierra this small fragment would be lost, too.
I remember the first day that we found the Black and Gold Howler monkeys (Allouatta caraya) and feeling so fortunate to have found this troop that has not been spotted for over three years. I remember counting flamingos in the Chaco for the Akron Zoo and being blown away by over 6,000 flamingos at once! I remember one night watching a pygmy owl come out of nowhere and take down a nightjar that was three times its size. These are experience that I would not get anywhere else.
But most of all, I remember the people that I have encountered along the way. Joe was the first intern here at Para la Tierra and has helped take this site to new levels. Jorge started as a forest guard here at the reserve and through learning about the importance of biodiversity from Para la Tierra got more involved and now runs the local education program. Becca’s passion for primate conservation oozes out every step of the way and is absolutely contagious. And Karina has worked her ass off making sure that Para la Tierra makes a difference in Paraguay for years to come.
That’s why today we are asking you to help us take Para la Tierra even further. To help build this dream that Karina hatched back in 2010. Help us expand Para la Tierra to our second home in Pilar. I have had the immense pleasure of working with the education program here around Laguna Blanca over the course of these all too short months and there is nothing more moving than seeing these children light up at being heard and learning about the environment around them.
I had the opportunity to interview one of our Eco Club hosts about what he has witnessed. Read an excerpt here:
[PLT]: What made you interested in hosting Eco Cine and Eco Club at your house?
[AM]: I like the work for the children. It is important for them to be taught how to live well and in a positive relationship with the environment. I like the environment and nature and want that to be something that the children value. I am seeing them take away benefits and seize opportunities that I wish had been available when I was younger, I am happy to play a part in providing this.
[PLT]: Where do you see Eco Club in the future?
[AM]: It will grow and get even better. It will be able to spread and help in other places, doing the same work with children in other neighborhoods.
[PLT]: How do you see Eco Club contributing to the community?
[AM]: It gives the children direction. They feel a connection with the land and the animals. This is the most important.
So please, I ask you to help us take this education program even further (to Pilar!) and promote environmental education across Paraguay. Para la Tierra has the potential to make an incredible impact, please become a part of that today.
Para La Tierra wrote -
We’re changing environmental education
Science + inspiration = making a difference
2016 was a great year for Para La Tierra – 11 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, hosting our first Miami University Earth Expedition Program. We even helped discover a new species for science! All of this in just our 6th year of operation.
Help us make 2017 even better
Our focus in 2017 will be to expand one of our most successful programs – PLT's Eco-Leadership for Sustainable Futures. This program transforms the way young children learn about the environment. Last year, our on-site club events regularly attracted 70+ children, eager to learn more about their environment. This December we’re holding a graduation ceremony for our two clubs: Defenders of Mother Earth, and Trees of Laguna Blanca. The children have really taken on the role of eco-activists, standing up for the rights of their future environment.
Spreading the word
We want to create a program that will grow to include multiple sites across the country. We’ll form partnerships with government and other NGOs to ensure that this most important message reaches every child. To achieve this goal, we need to increase our visibility and prove that the program can be adapted to any setting.
In 2016, PLT received an extremely generous donation – a large house in the southern city of Pilar, where we’re going to establish an educational center. With your help, we’ll renovate the house to make it suitable for our Eco-Leadership for Sustainable Futures program.
How you can help
To get government sponsorship for our program, we need to prove that it works and start making headlines. The move to Pilar is the perfect opportunity to make 2017 the year that PLT changes the face of environmental education. But we can't do it alone. Please help us by donating to our campaign.
As usual with PLT, the dream is big. We're looking to develop a community centre where children and adults can learn about the environment and the importance of conservation.
$5,000 will help us develop of a childrens museum and interactive science space
$4,000 will help us rennovate a few rooms of the house owned by PLT in Pilar, and opening the doors to the Education Center
$3,000 will install a kitchen and other resources we need to be able to run the centre
$2,000 will buy inquiry equipment including a small boat to allow field trips to the Paraguay River
$1,000 will buy resources to fund educational activities on site in Pilar, including black-boards, games and books
Please click the donate button to help us in whatever way you can. You'll get good karma and we'll be forever grateful.