Our most dramatic and exciting advances in 2005 have come in the area of community outreach and education. This aspect of the project is co-designed and implemented by Ms. Mónica González, an Ecuadorian national and a recent addition to the CTR team. Ms. González has an M.S. in environmental education and brings over seven years of direct experience with environmental education in the Chocó to the project.
In June 2005, we launched our full scale education program, servicing eleven local communities and more than 350 children. Ms. González holds monthly meetings with local teachers in which she capacitates them in a particular environmental theme and provides teaching aids. After each workshop, she visits the communities and implements hands-on experiments which reinforce that month’s theme.
Outside of the classroom, we have given dozens of environmentally-themed PowerPoint presentations in local communities. To reach more remote communities in the Chocó, we often carry a generator, laptop computer, and LCD projector along several kilometers of muddy trails. To date, we have reached a combined audience of more than 700 individuals with these presentations.
We have also held mist-netting demonstrations in four communities, in combination with education, allowing over 200 children to hold birds in their hands and learn more about our research and the natural world around them. Presentations and demonstrations are given entirely by local community members who have been working as field biologists (and who are the leaders of their communities) and Ecuadorian university students, which has greatly increased the success and effectiveness of these event.