Junior Scientists Restoring Brazil's Rainforest

Jun 25, 2014

Brazil: not just The Beautiful Game!

Junior Scientists -  redy to change the world!
Junior Scientists - redy to change the world!

Dear Iracambistas, friends and supporters,

As people around the world gather to watch The Beautiful Game with its triumphs and heartbreaks, we'd like to remind you that, passionate as we are about soccer, there's more to Brazil than the World Cup! So here is a brief report from the Iracambi Rainforest Research Center, home to Junior Scientists@ Iracambi.

Our Junior Science project is thrilled to be a member of Microsoft’s Youthspark – a program that seeks to create opportunities for youth leadership across the world. And today, June 25th, is a very special day for Youthspark Partners. From 12:00 midday EST on June 25th to 11:59 am June 26th all donations to our project will be matched by Microsoft by 100%. So, regardless of who wins or loses in the World Cup today, your donation have twice the impact! 

But first, we want to tell you, dear friends and supporters, that we really appreciate the way in which you have stood by us over the past year. Thanks to you we’ve inspired, educated and equipped dozens of Junior Scientists, and with your help we were able to buy the Kombi van which has allowed us to take our students to places where school bus drivers dare not go. On the last Microsoft Youthspark matching funds day your generosity enabled us to raise the money for a new server and a desktop computer to house our GIS mapping project. As we speak, the Iracambi GIS team is hard at work putting our data and maps on line. Which means that, for the first time ever, farmers and planners in this isolated rural area will have access to the information they need to be able to make the best possible use of their natural resources. Better care for the rainforest, more productive family farms, healthier communities.

In a couple of weeks when the next semester begins, our Junior Scientists will be heading for the Environmental Protection Areas to learn at first-hand how some of our organic farmers are reconciling forest protection with the production of healthy organic food. Since almost all the raw materials used in school meals comes from local farms, closer cooperation between Junior Scientists and family farmers benefits everyone! Together with the farmers our students will be creating and testing hypotheses, conducting practical applied experiments and analyzing the results. Junior Scientists will create their very own mini agro-ecology plot to restore forest cover and provide nutritious food for themselves and their families. And, since we want to give a voice to our local youth, we plan to involve them in the management councils of the Environmental Protection Areas, working alongside farm families and empowering one another to become proactive members of the community.

Thank you, dear donors, for supporting Iracambi’s Junior Scientists – together we’re raising a new generation of transformational leaders! Here’s the link to our project – would you consider sharing it on your networks? http://bit.ly/1m6l5jv 

Iracambi, Microsoft and you, together we’re protecting the forests, supporting sustainable agriculture, and training young scientists to be the leaders of tomorrow.  Pretty good deal, don’t you think? Or, as we say here in Brazil in the language of the World Cup - GOOOOOOOAL!         


Apr 14, 2014

Mapping, Microsoft and Money

Junior Scientist Joao Pedro collecting tree
Junior Scientist Joao Pedro collecting tree's data

Good morning, dear friends and supporters!

We wanted to send a big thank you and update to all of you who over the past months and years have helped to support our Junior Scientists @ Iracambi, as they equip themselves to learn about and care for the wonderful biodiversity of the rainforest.

The new semester is well under way and our teacher Diogo has his hands full with fifty Junior Scientists who can’t wait to get out of the classroom and into the field to collect data on weather, tree seedlings, soils and water and get themselves in shape for working on their very own conservation project in the Environmental Protection Areas. And thanks to our lovely Kombi van, bought with the help of friends, donors and Iracambistas worldwide, we no longer have to rely on the school bus drivers who can be temperamental when the roads are muddy!   

But wouldn’t you know it, at the very moment that our Junior Scientists are collecting data to feed into the Iracambi Geographical Information System, the server which oversees all the data on our computer network is beginning to show serious signs of age! The server and the dedicated GIS computer are crucial elements in storing the data which is then transformed by our GIS specialists into maps which can be used by the local community to help in conservation planning, both in the Environmental Protection Areas and beyond.

However, the good news is that the Junior Science program has been adopted by Microsoft as part of their YouthSpark program which is aimed at equipping young people with the skills they need to enter the workplace. Plus there will be a lightning 24 hour funding campaign on April 16th beginning at midday EST, during which time Microsoft will match every donation by 50% - as long as funds last. As if that wasn’t enough, they're going to award a $10,000 prize to the organization that receives the highest number of donations! So please ask your friends, family, boss, neighbors, and every good looking stranger you meet to chip in. Every dollar counts, and each individual donation gets us nearer to winning the $10,000 prize for the most popular supported cause.

As you may suppose, Iracambi’s communications coordinator Guilherme is hard at work contacting friends and supporters across the world, and if you could help out on that day he would be a happy man! He has set himself the goal of raising $8000 to enable us to buy both a new server and a new desktop computer to store our GIS data. Donations should be made by credit card or Paypal, and in order to qualify for the 50% counterpart, they have to hit the site between 1200 midday EST on 16th April and 1200 midday EST on the 17th.


How about that for an easy way to grow your donation?! Please consider helping if you can. Any donation of any size is welcome!

Thanks so much for your help, and rainforest hugs,

Guilherme, Diogo and all the Junior Scientists 


Mar 10, 2014

The Iracambi humming bird and the pot of gold

The Iracambi Kombi - thanks to you, dear donors!
The Iracambi Kombi - thanks to you, dear donors!

Dear supporters and friends across the world 

This is turning out to be a great week! And we'd love to ask you to make it even greater. Read on....

First of all, the Iracambi Kombi van has arrived. This was bought with donations raised in ourSeptember fundraiser, in the course of which our gallant band of Rainforest Heroes went without birthday presents, and went down on their knees to friends and family in order to raise the funds we needed. In fact Iracambi was narrowly pushed into second place in the funding competition by another GlobalGiving organization, but we qualified for bonus funding anyway.

So, at last, we have our own transport and will no longer have to depend on the good graces and good organization of the local school bus. The first team of Junior Scientists arrives tomorrow to start the academic year, and already we are getting complaints from other would-be Junior Scientistswho didn't manage to get through the selection process. We'll do our best to accommodate them next semester.

So what's all this about the humming bird? Well, CA Technologies from New York has selected four GlobalGiving partner organizations that work in science education to share in their fiftieth birthday celebration. Here's how it works. For every one who follows this link http://bit.ly/1ary2Um and selects an organization, they are making a donation. This week, March 9 -14 each donation is worth $50.  So far, Iracambi has managed to get 47% of all the donations, and it's all thanks to our supporters like you.  

Could there be an easier way for you to help our work in the rainforest? It's as easy as 1,2,3. Please click for us, share us with your networks, and help the Iracambi humming bird fill up that pot of gold. Thank you so much!  

And we'll report back soon on the result of the funding drive, and of course we'll tell you how our Junior Scientists are doing!  

rainforest hugs

Robin, Binka, Toni, Leandro and all the Junior Scientists      

The Iracambi humming bird and the pot of gold
The Iracambi humming bird and the pot of gold


Jan 23, 2014

NEWSFLASH! New York loves Junior Scientists!

Hard at work!
Hard at work!


Junior Scientists has been selected by CA Technologies from New York City as one of the four projects they are supporting to celebrate their 50th anniversary. How exciting is that?! 

So it's easier than ever to support Junior Scientists. Three clicks and it's done! Just follow the link http://www.ca.com/us/lpg/mainframe/mainframe-50/giving.aspx, select Iracambi, go down the page, hit the like button, hit submit and CA Technologies will donate $1 for our Junior Scientists. And better still, you can do it every day.   

And in case you are wondering what our Junior Scientists are up to.... well, this past weekend they helped plant nearly 400 trees on the new Graminha Forest Reserve. And they are planning to plant more next weekend. This is all part of taking their practical skills into the field in preparation for going into the environmental preservation areas and working with the local community to preserve streams and springs and prevent erosion through planting and caring for forest seedlings. We were extraordinarily lucky in the weather - it had been very hot and dry for the previous ten days, and there was a violent thunderstorm the day before which flooded the valley, knocked out the power, and burned out the radios that bring us the internet. The track up to the planting site is steep and muddy, but luckily the Junior Scientists were to hand to push when the Iracambi Land Rover got stuck!

We'll send you an update when school starts again next month, and in the meantime if you could help us with three clicks (and if you could do it every day) we'll be overjoyed!

heavy lifting
heavy lifting
still smiling!
still smiling!
leaving our mark!
leaving our mark!


Dec 4, 2013

Junior Scientists with Big Plans

Observing and remembering
Observing and remembering

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! 

I know!  I know!
I know! I know!
Pointing out conservation priorities
Pointing out conservation priorities


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Rosario da Limeira, MG, Brazil

Project Leader

Binka Le Breton

Rosario da Limeira, Minas Gerais Brazil

Where is this project located?

Map of Junior Scientists Restoring Brazil's Rainforest