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
Lights-camera-action! As we get our high school junior scientists situated around the table, making some minor adjustments in order to have them all fit on the screen, we think that our Portland Oregon friends are doing the same. When we initiated our video conference call though, we were surprised to see that they were able to fit in a large number of people. In fact, there were about 50 kids sitting in an auditorium waving to us saying, “Hello!” with an occasional, “Oi!”
We had decided to start off our conference by giving a performance that would show off a little about each of our cultures. An Iracambi Junior Scientist picked up his guitar and played a couple popular Brazilian songs with a little vocal help from the other Junior Scientists, and the Portland kids retaliated with a dance to the world pop hit song, Gangnam Style.
With the ice broken between us, it was time to get to business. The Iracambi Junior Scientists showed pictures taken in the surrounding Atlantic Rainforest regions that are well known to them, and told the Portland kids about life in the rainforest. They also talked about the projects they’ve been working in, such as the water monitoring and working in the forest nursery. After our presentation, it was the Portlanders’ turn to present their project. They had taken a trip to New Port to learn about the ocean. The kids came up one by one and talked about many interesting things such as the role of water in terms of erosion and the water cycle that they learned during their trip. By the end of both presentations, kids on both sides of the screens had learned quite a lot about a new ecosystem. With many goodbyes our video conference came to an end, but will stick with our kids for a long time to come.