Dear friends, supporters, and Iracambistas everywhere,
First of all we want to send you a big thank you for supporting our September Fundraiser campaign, and for your continued support, day by day, month by month. You are the best, dear donors, and we couldn’t do it without you!
The amazing and utterly wonderful news is that in the last quarter of 2013 we have raised $13,546!! Which will buy us the Volkswagen Kombi van that we’ve been dreaming of for so long.
And what does that mean for us? It means that we will no longer be dependent on the good graces of the school bus and its driver who can be grumpy when the roads are muddy. And the roads do get muddy in the rainy season – October through April. That’s what comes of living in a rainforest...... So we'll be able to collect Junior Scientists year round because the gallant Kombi can cope with dust and ruts in the dry season and ankle deep mud in the rains. It can also cross bridges and tackle steep hills that leave the competition stranded.
So when the school year begins in February we have big plans for our Junior Scientists. During the past quarter they’ve been sharpening their observation skills and learning to distinguish indicator species of mammals, birds and plants, as well as mapping the bioregion around the Research Center and around their own houses and farms. It's all part of helping them diagnose healthy ecosystems.
Starting in February we plan to take them into the Environmental Protection Areas to put their new found skills to work and encourage their friends and families to define priority areas for environmental protection, to figure out the challenges, and come up with solutions. So they may be planting trees to protect springs and streams and help contain erosion. They may be encouraging recycling, figuring out pollution control measures, attending community meetings and helping create an environmental management plan. How exciting is that?
And, by the way, when the schools conducted their own evaluation of the Junior Scientist program, the students were unanimous in saying they love being Junior Scientists. One of the reasons they gave? Because we tell them that one of the cool things about being scientists is that they are EXPECTED to ask questions!
So once again, dear donors, we want to send you a great big thank you from all our Junior Scientists, and wish you all a wonderful Christmas holiday season. Please come visit us if you are ever in our part of the world and who knows, you could even get a ride in the Kombi!
Down in Brazil's Atlantic Forest the birds are nesting, the trees are budding, the rains are coming, and our Junior Scientists are heading into summer. It's the season of tree planting, monitoring water quality and quantity, learning about soils, learning about the plants and animals in the rainforest and sharing their exciting discoveries with younger siblings and parents.
Two developments have taken place since our last rainforest report: and the first is that our Casa da Floresta (Forest House) is now inches away from completion - designed and made at Iracambi. Check out the materials used in construction: mud, glass bottles, hand-made bricks and bamboo. It's a space for meetings, exhibitions, classes, and hanging out, and our Junior Scientists can't wait to inaugurate it. The second development is the beginning of construction of a Mountain Hut on the new forest reserve Pico da Graminha. Local students have been involved in reforesting a degraded area up there, and it's now time to do some maintenance on those seedlings and plant more, and before too long they'll be able to camp out there overnight. Our camera traps have recently registered pictures of mountain lion and ocelot in the Iracambi forests - all proof that our conservation efforts are working and that the endangered fauna of the area is making a comeback!
In terms of course material for Junior Scientists, we are adding plant identification and learning about the role of mammals and birds in the ecosystem. And of course we are all rooting for our favorite monkey, brachyteles hypoxanthus - wooly spider monkey or muriqui as he is known here in Brazil - to become the mascot for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Serra do Brigadeiro mountian range where Iracambi is located is the site of the largest population of the highly endangered muriqui, and we aim to keep it that way.
So not only are the Junior Scientists outside the classroom, on the forest trails, in the forest nursery, at the water monitoring points and learning about soils, they are also involved in hands-on forest restoration. It's all part of raising a new generation to love and care for the forest and we couldn't do it without your help, so thank you, dear donors!
This month Iracambi friends and students are engaged in a marathon drive to raise funds for the whole year, and we're also aiming to raise money to buy a second hand van so that we can bring the kids in from the school district that can no longer provide a school bus, as well as over weekends or during school vacations when our Junior Scientists would be with us in a heartbeat if there were any way of getting here. Please check out a couple of fundraising pages. The first is this one: http://www.globalgiving.org/fundraisers/8228 It's managed by Julia, a young ornithologist who recently interned with us from France, where she tells us, online fundraising is a bit of a novelty.
The second is http://www.globalgiving.org/fundraisers/8198 and it's managed by Georgia from North Carolina who is back at college, and juggling the demands of the school year with everything else that needs to be done.
Both Julia and Georgia would be thrilled to receive any donations this month to their fundraising pages - helping them to qualify not only to receive a bonus for Junior Scientists but maybe even a prize for themselves.
We owe it all to you, dear donors. Between us we'll keep the forest flourishing for our children and for their children. Thank you!
Guess who we just caught on our night camera? Yes folks, it's a puma! . Puma concolor, susuarana, mountain lion. We are so excited! It proves that our conservation work with Junior Scientists and the rest of the team at Iracambi is working! AND.. Anyone who gives us a donation on Wednesday June 12th attracts 50% matching funds.
Because, thanks to you, our wonderful donors, our Partners at GlobalGiving have awarded us Superstar status. Please, if you can, donate on June 12th, and together we'll keep our forests safe for the mountain lion!
Thank you, donors! We love you!
The Iracambi Team and the Junior Scientists