Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders, so delivering quality environmental education and meaningful training experiences is the most important thing we can do to ensure the long-term survival of the Amazon. We work with students of all ages from across Peru to give them the knowledge and skills they need to become the next generation of rainforest defenders.
Annual Environmental Education Campaign
Our annual environmental education experiences are designed to foster strong environmental identities and encourage pro-environmental behavior among the Madre de Dios region’s local children, especially those in the most underserved communities. The experience centers each year on insects, not only our main research focus but also among the most diverse and fascinating creatures in the Amazon.
We blend art and science in a way that is accessible to children to provide a meaningful and impactful experience. Most of all, our goal is to engage students and show them that insects are incredible and that the study of nature is both important and fun.
Children reached in 2019: >1,400 students at 7 schools
Past Annual Campaigns
Zoe Wood explains the scene depicted by one of the watercolor panels in the 2019 campaign 'El Mundo de las Hormigas' in Puerto Maldonado. Photo: Sergio Nawuel
2019: El Mundo de las Hormigas (The World of Ants)
This campaign brought elementary and high school students from throughout Madre de Dios to the regional capital, Puerto Maldonado, to learn about the diversity and biology of ants. The exhibit included large watercolor panels created by Zoe Wood, one of our 2019 resident naturalists, complemented with photography by Geoff Gallice and Paul Bertner. The goal was for children to immerse themselves in the world of ants and, in the process, learn to appreciate these often overlooked yet incredible tiny animals.
Guided tours of the panels and photographs, which each depicted a unique aspect of ant diversity or biology, coupled with activities designed to reinforce key concepts, helped children learn and have a positive experience that will help them build an environmental identity.
Artwork helps children visualize the world of ants, in this case the mutualistic relationships some species have with rainforest plants. Watercolor by Zoe Wood
Children reached in 2018: >1,400 students at 7 schools
Additional visitors to the Mariposario de Tambopata:
ASA staff members guide young students through the photographic exhibit in Puerto Maldonado. Photo: Geoff Gallice
2018: La Fascinante Vida de los Insectos (The Fascinating Lives of Insects)
Our innagural campaign focused on the diversity of insects in the Peruvian Amazon—incredible animals that children here have living right in their backyards, but about which most know almost nothing about. The physical exhibit was located in Puerto Maldonado and was comprised of 20 large color photographs of a diversity of insects on white background; images were chosen to capture the overall diversity of Amazonian insects and to provide opportunities for sharing engaging and impactful stories about them.
In addition to the primary exhibit, the photographs were duplicated and displayed at the Mariposario de Tambopata (Tambopata Butterfly House), also in Puerto Maldonado. This allowed us to reach thousands of additional members of the public and, importantly, a variety of different audiences.
Duplicate photographic exhibit at the Mariposario de Tambopata in Puerto Maldonado. Photo: Augusto Mulanovich
Las Aventuras de Mili (in English: 'Millie’s Misadventures’) is a fun and educational story written and illustrated by Allison Stoiser, one of our 2019 Lepidoptera Research Assistants. The story follows Millie, an Amazonian royal flycatcher, as she learns how to hunt and survive in the rainforest. By following her journey, the book’s young readers learn a lot about the Amazon and its wildlife themselves.
The first edition of Las Aventuras de Mili, translated into Spanish language and produced by ASA, National Geographic Explorer Carmen Chávez, and the Red de Aprendizaje y Conservación, with the financial support of National Geographic.
Online materials enhance the project's scope and increase its reach.
Millie was created originally as part of Allison’s capstone project at Clemson University. The story had enormous potential to be used for environmental education, so in 2020, in collaboration with National Geographic Explorer Carmen Chávez and her Red de Aprendizaje y Conservación, and with funding from National Geographic, we produced the first edition of ‘Las Aventuras de Mili’, Allison’s original story translated into Spanish language.
1,000 copies have already been distributed to elementary students throughout the Madre de Dios region, focusing especially on children living within the remote buffer zone of Manu National Park. In 2021, Millie’s Misadventures was incorporated into the 4th grade curriculum region-wide, thanks to a partnership between ASA, Carmen Chávez and the Red de Aprendizaje y Conservación, National Geographic, and the Madre de Dios regional government.
Courses, Training & Outreach
Finca Las Piedras
Finca Las Piedras is our research and education center in Peru’s Madre de Dios region. The site offers comfortable facilities and provides access to several Amazonian ecosystems, right in the heart of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspot. Students and others from Peru and all over the world, and from all educational levels and backgrounds, come here for courses, field trips, and training opportunities.
Course: Conservation in the Peruvian Amazon
This course, normally run twice each year, brings students from the Pontifical Catholic University in Lima to the Madre de Dios region to learn about the Amazon and the environmental challenges faced by communities here. Participants are typically a mix of Peruvian and international students studying abroad in Peru.
Teacher Training Courses
Organized and co-hosted by our partner ACEER, these courses offer local elementary and high school teachers in the Peruvian Amazon hands-on training in field biology and reforestation techniques. These courses allow us to indirectly reach thousands of children throughout the region by strengthening their teachers' knowledge and skills in environmental education.
A Bioblitz aims to quickly survey a site's biodiversity with the help of citizen scientists. In 2019, with support from National Geographic, ASA co-organized the first Bioblitz in southeastern Peru at Finca Las Piedras along with our partner ACEER. Local students of all age groups helped make this event a great success and learned a great deal in the process.
Undergraduate Training Sessions
These day-long sessions are organized by our partner ACEER and hosted at Finca Las Piedras. The goal is to bring undergraduate student volunteers into the field to learn about the ASA's work while strengthening their practical skills in field biology. In particular, students contribute to ASA and ACEER's long-term camera trapping and water quality research.
These programs, normally run each year, bring students from the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima to the Peruvian Amazon to learn about the region and its environmental challenges while using the skills learned through their studies to help local communities solve self-identified problems. Students have backgrounds in areas ranging from marketing to sustainable development and law, providing support that is otherwise in short supply in the region.
These residencies offer undergraduate students and young professionals from around Peru professional development opportunities by participating in the ASA's research in the Peruvian Amazon, particularly our Lepidoptera Diversity and Biology project. Our goal is to train residents in the design, implementation, and publishing of original research.
Our 2021 Marketing Interns, Naomi Astete (left) and José Antonio Amable (right). Naomo studies economics and José Antonio studies business administration. Both hope to use their skills to change the world for the better.
Marketing interns come from the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, and generally have academic backgrounds in marketing, economics, business administration, or similar fields. The interns help the ASA strategize and develop plans for marketing, community outreach, and fundraising. In turn, they gain real world experience in the non-profit sector that is a boost to their academic careers.
Our research internship program is open to early career biologists, conservationists, and others from Peru and all over the world who are looking to gain practical field experience, particularly in biological research. Interns learn about and contribute directly to the ASA's projects spanning research, reforestation, and education, and design and carry out independent research of their own.
Interns learn to navigate off trail at Finca Las Piedras using a map and compass, a skill they may later employ in their independent research.