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Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest

by Iracambi
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest


As we mentioned in our last report, we recently received around 40 teachers and students from a neighbouring school for a fun-filled day of discovery and hiking here in the beautiful Atlantic Rainforest.

To prepare for the long walk we did a warm up activity, mimicking the behavior of animals and plants that live in the forest. 

After setting off, the group soon came across many natural treasures which they were asked to memorize. Both the children and the teachers entered the forest with curious excitement. The hike was fantastic, full of fun facts and curiosities such as a small caterpillar hanging by an invisible thread that floated above our heads like magic!

But nature is full of magic,  just like the small seeds that grow into entire forests that delight young and old alike, enabling endless opportunities to bring people together.

Speaking of people coming together, the highlight of this quarter was marked by partnering with FOREA - Regional Forum for Environmental Education, whose forums are extremely important in the process of transformation of environmental education in the Serra do Brigadeiro region.

Through the participation of this Forum, Iracambi trained 50 teachers in using sensory, hands-on methods to generate impactful learning outcomes. In the training workshops teachers realized that it is possible to connect classroom learning to environmental education in spaces within the neighborhood, community square and even in the school yard itself, making a real TRANSFORMATION in the lives of students.

Through the magic of nature, training and activities with the children in the forest, everybody wins. So to YOU dear donor, we say a massive THANK YOU for playing an indispensable role in our mission of Saving Forests and Transforming Lives!


The end of the holidays arrived in March and the Ecoleaders project is back at work! So we’ve been taking our international volunteers to the local village school, where they got to share stories about the natural environment where they live - for example Jamaica and Florida. The volunteers and the kids had a blast- through a rich exchange of smiles and knowledge.

These kids also visited Iracambi and hiked our Atlantic Rainforest trails. During the forest hikes, they made many discoveries about the forest. They also had the opportunity to learn a few words in English while interacting with our volunteers- all native English speakers.

During this past trimester, school visits for the end of the year were also set up. The next activities, which will be in the schools will enormously enrich the Ecoleaders program, because we believe that if we start inside the classrooms, we’ll be able to get the kids excited about nature before they go into the forest. After the classroom activities aimed at  stimulating interest in the environment, the kids become more excited about taking part in outdoor activities, where they absorb much more knowledge from the forest.

Great things will be happening this year! Next week we'll be hosting a big school visit from Ervlália ( a neighboring town,) The students will  be hiking in our forest trails and learning about Mother Nature through fun activities, as well having the chance to interact with our international volunteers and a group of Brazilian students who will also be on campus. But the details of this visit we’ll be sharing in our next report which will be full of fresh new stories of the Atlantic Rainforest!

Iracambi and the children you have helped want to send you a big thank you for everyting you do  to support us. 

A warm rainforest hug to you all of you!


It’s a great start to 2019 as our Eco Leader program that began last year continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Thanks to the funds raised, we have been able to deliver the program both in local schools and those in surrounding towns.

We believe that our method of teaching about the Atlantic Rainforest must be replicated in other regions so that more educators and even parents, can be trained to share our way of caring for nature.

This trimester we took advantage of the school summer holidays and focused part of our efforts on family visits.  We received several visitors, but one that stood out in particular was that of Barbara and her family from Brasilia, the busy urban capital of Brazil which is the complete opposite of our Atlantic Rainforest.

Barbara brought her sons Téo and David, two children who did not like the outdoors, as they were used to playing only in their apartment and at school. The challenge was to get them to connect to nature and enjoy it!

We embraced the challenge, adopting the mission of the Eco Leaders program to inspire a love for nature in young people.  It did not get off to a great start, as the children arrived to a very different environment from their city life and were soon protesting that they wanted to return home.

In the end, after helping to build campfires, frog hunting at night and birdwatching in the morning, everything changed, and two little boys who were once opposed to nature and the outdoors were now captivated by it. By the time they had to leave Téo and David were asking; "Mum, when are we coming back? Because next time we want to climb that tall tree!’’.

And so our mission impossible became a magical victory, because when a child expresses a desire to return, we generate an unconscious desire to protect and preserve the place where precious memories were made.

In addition to Barbara’s family, another highlight of the family visits was little Larissa. Larissa accompanied her family on her first trail through the forest that led to a beautiful stream of crystal clear water.

Larissa was so engaged and curious on her walk that she picked up the casing of a Cicada insect to study it under an electronic magnifying glass back in our laboratory. Both Larissa and her family were amazed by the perfect impression the cicada had left behind when it shed its shell.

During the visits there was no shortage of children expressing their excitement and wonder, Larissa exclaiming;” Wow! Isn’t it beautiful daddy? We cannot let people cut down the forests because there are so many cool things inside!’’.

The holiday season is drawing to a close here in Brazil, finishing with carnival which Iracambi will be sure not to miss! Did you know that in 2018 the world-famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, produced more than 400 tons of garbage?!

This is a huge problem, but as always Iracambi is doing its part with the help of our good friend Rafael, from the town of Guarani.  Rafael has created beautiful sustainable pieces from fallen leaves to decorate the rooms of Hotel Fazano in Rio de Janeiro during the carnival season, promoting environmental awareness to guests.

Rafael enlisted the help of the Eco Leaders team to deliver a workshop on the theme of preserving the Atlantic Rainforest in his town of Guarani. The workshop was carried out in the town square where in addition to helping create the hotel pieces, children were treated to various Eco Leader activities and connected with the theme of the garbage produced during carnival.

The workshop was a fantastic success, with the council’s Head of Education later informing us that it was the first activity on carnival and the environment, and that the children got so involved they did not want to return to their classrooms!

And so we conclude our first trimester of 2019, producing inspiring and sustainable decor, promoting sustainable alternatives for our everyday activities and transforming attitudes and families, such as those of Larissa, Téo and David.

We are so pleased to be completing our mission and happier still that you are with us, doing your part!

The Eco Leaders team is extremely grateful for all your donations.  

Thank you!


Dear friends and donors

We’re getting towards the end of another year together, and with your support we’ve succeeded in changing a lot of lives in our Young EcoLeaders program. And as you know, our teaching methods are all about helping the students have first-hand experiences with nature so they can learn to love it and then to care for it. We’ve discovered that once we have their attention, it’s easy to get them interested in the science. But if we start with the science we often lose them before they are out of the door.    

Highlights of this past quarter include forest walks and swimming in waterfall as well as the discovery of the similarities between animal life in Brazil and Australia! If this sounds like a holiday camp, let me explain how this fits into our science program. Iracambi volunteer Craig visited the local schools and told the students about the similarities and differences between the fauna of Brazil and Australia – two countries which, millions of years ago belonged to the same land mass. The students learned that in Australia there are more than one species of kangaroo, including one that climbs trees. And then Craig told them that there’s an animal in Brazil that has a pouch to carry its young, just like in Australia.

After learning this, here’s what Lais had to say.  “I’m never going to let anyone cut the forest behind my house because now I know that there are animals there that have a pouch just like a kangaroo and I’m not going to let them disappear.”

Another mini project that we did was with a group of special students. We’ve been working with them for some time helping them get in touch with nature and showing them that even though they live in a small town, they can still have access to nature and fresh air.  

So what did we do? We planted some fruit trees on the sidewalk outside the school – guava and pitanga (we call it Brazilian cherry) as well as flowers and medicinal plants. And here’s what Gabriel, aged seven, had to say. “I often walk along here and I never imagined we could actually plant trees! But now when I come along here with my mom, I’m going to tell her it was me who planted this pitanga tree and when it fruits I’m going to bring my little brother and we’re going to eat the fruit.”

So you see that everything we do in this program has a kind of magic because it inspires the kids and they go off and change the lives of others. It was the same with the kids who won the competition for the school that could collect the largest number of used batteries. First prize was a visit to the Iracambi forests.

It's hard to tell you how we felt when the winning group came to Iracambi. We had arranged a full day for them, including a little exercise in leadership. We sent them off in pairs to explore the campus and the trails, after pointing out the importance of following the rules about where they could and couldn’t go. After which they guided their teachers round the trails and the teachers were blown away to see the magic and natural curiosity of children discovering a new world. And you can imagine their happiness the first time the kids waded into the river and played in the pure clean water that the forest helps to protect.  

So this is all about getting the students in touch with nature first hand. When you feel safe and see for yourself how beautiful it is, then you learn to love it.  And when you love something, you look after it. So we’re immensely grateful to you, dear donors, for your support in opening up new worlds to our children!

So here is our report, and it comes with a big thank you to all of you who’ve been and continue to be part of this this year and we wish you a wonderful holiday season with lots of fun! Let’s see if we can reach even more students next year!

With love,

Marina and the rainforest kids

PS: We just checked out the numbers of students who’ve been part of our programs this year and it comes to over a THOUSAND! Thank you, thank you – look what we’re doing together!      


Winning school
Winning school

The result of the school competition that we started last year had amazing results, and the smallest school that participated in the competition was the winner of the competition.

The Municipal School Joaquim Ribeiro Carvalho  showed that it was there to win and gathered 0,17 kg of batteries per student- the highest result considering the number of students. The Municipal School Cândido Portinari won second place, with 0,15 kg per student.

In sum, all the students removed from the environment a total of 228,5 of batteries which would be all discarded directly into the soil. This is a disastrous issue to the health of the regional aquifers.

With this result we can prove that even with small numbers we can make a difference. Let's follow the steps of these young eco-leaders and keep doing our part to better the life of our planet.

In this last trimester, the transportation crises, the multiple school strikes, and the school- holidays turned it impossible for students of Rosário da Limeira and Belisário to Iracambi. However, now in September the regular activities of Ecoleaders will be back.

Even with all the current problems of Brazil and in the world, Iracambi never stops with its activities of planting the seeds of future eco-leaders in the heart of the young.

In this trimester we received more than 50 visitor betwen the age of 7 and 21 for activities of environmental sensitizing programs.

To a lot of students, it was the first trip of their lives inside of a forest and all of its wonders.

One of the students will always reside in our memory: Ryan, a bright young kid of 7 years old who knows much more of many adults around. He knew the names of many animals of the Atlantic Rainforest and knew exactly where to find them.

Nevertheless, there was something that Ryan didn't know: the local primate 'Muriqui' is the largest primate of the Americas and lives inside of the forests of Iracambi, as well as the sloth who also lives here which adores to hide under the of leaves of our famous tree 'Emba-uba'...

I could stay hours here telling to you all that happens during these visits. If you want to know more about our stories, reach us and it will be the greatest pleasure to talk you! You are a part of these adventures that happens with us.

Another group that also participated in our Ecoleaders activities with us came from the towns of Ervária and Viçosa. This group was very interesting because it was made of children, teenagers, parents and undergraduate students.

The interactions of this group were incredible and actually quite unusual. Maria Eduarda, a child of 9 year old, took leadership of the Medicinal Plants Trail with such enthusiasm and self-confidence that it seemed that she was used to being in forests her entire life and it was the first forest walk of her life!

The most knowledgeable participant- Dona Betânia told us about her precious knowledge of local medicinal plants and told  stories of her life 40 years ago. She knew a lot about herbal medicine since at that time it was the only health resource that was in place.

Finally, we fell in love with Yara's courage. She is a tennager of 16 years old who has phobia of been in closed forests. She was encouraged by her friends to visit Iracambi to win over her fear. At the end of the visit, Yara came to thank me for helping her lose her fear of such environment and that she actually had an unforgettable experience.

And that' all. We will keep with our mission of "Saving forests and transforming lives", like the ones of Ryan, Maria Eduarda, Betânia and Yara, who participate in the Ecoleaders program and took home lessons of environmental conservation and memories that will never be forgotten.

Playful activities with child of schools
Playful activities with child of schools
Demonstration of the several aspects of the forest
Demonstration of the several aspects of the forest
Walk through the Medicinal Plants Trail
Walk through the Medicinal Plants Trail
Ryan discovering about the monkey
Ryan discovering about the monkey 'Muriqui'
Maria Eduarda and her facial expression of forest
Maria Eduarda and her facial expression of forest
Discovering the wonders of the Atlantic Rainforest
Discovering the wonders of the Atlantic Rainforest

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Organization Information


Location: Rosario da Limeira, MG - Brazil
Project Leader:
Marina Silva
Rosario da Limeira, MG Brazil
$70,768 raised of $97,000 goal
580 donations
$26,232 to go
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