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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
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
Young EcoLeaders of the Brazilian Rainforest
I"m a froggie!
I"m a froggie!

Good morning, dear donors, and greetings from the rainforest!

We're so excitied to introduce you to our expanded program to include the Youngest EcoLeaders! Our new teacher Marina believes it's never too early to introduce children to the wonders of nature, so this school year we are expanding our program to include the youngest children. And before bringing the children into the rainforest, she is bringing the rainforest into the classroom - proving that there are no limitations to the imagination of our youngest students! 

Here's how it works. The children create a make-believe world where they are free to be whatever they want. One jumps like a frog, another crawls like a snake, another howls like a wolf. (Yes, we do have wolves in the rainforest, but they don't look like the wolves in the North!) The sun shines and then the rain starts to fall gently on the little trees and plants which grow and grow, and provide shelter and food for the animals. It's turning into a real rainforest party.

After this, the animals are called to a meeting where they hear the terrible news. There are people arriving in the area who want to find minerals in the forest, cutting the trees, digging up the earth, and filling the rivers with runoff. What are the animals going to do now? What will happen to the worms in the earth, the monkeys in the trees, the fish in the rivers? Everyone understands that what affects one animal affects all the animals. It's a long discussion, and when it's time for Marina to leave the animals can hardly wait for their next meeting!    

This is just the beginning of this year's school program - because the year only really gets going after Carnaval. But we're delighted, and so are the children. And a big thank you all for your support - we can't tell you often enough that we couldn't do it without you!

lots of rainforest love and we'll tell you more soon! 

Marina and the Youngest Eco Leaders .  

What shall I be?
What shall I be?
I'm a monkey!
I'm a monkey!
Swimming in the river
Swimming in the river

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Young Eco Leader at work
Young Eco Leader at work

Dear wonderful donors,

Isn´t it amazing? The year is almost over and we´re all getting ready for the holidays.  And for us, down in the rainforest, it´s time for the summer break - lots of sunshine, lots of rain, and a break after all the ups and downs of this very eventful year!  And f course it´s time for us to catch you up on what has been going at Iracambi during the last quarter. 

Our main focus this quarter has been pollution. No, it´s not something you associate with the rainforest, with our clear skies and sparkling water, but it´s still very much part of our lives - whether through atmospheric pollution, or pollution of soils and water. When we talk atmospheric pollution, our first thoughts are probably connected with carbon emissions - from industry, vehicles and even from burning the forest. Then we might consider the increasing amounts of garbage generated by  the developed and developing worlds. Yes we do have a recycling plant in the local village, and yes we do separate our garbage, but we are still generating a lot of waste. So we decided to hold a round table with the students to reflect on the subject of pollution and waste, together with their causes and consequences. At the end of this module we held a workshop where the students used their creativity to make all sorts of useful objects from recycled materials. A new take on waste.

Buoyed up by this success we then turned our attention to pollution and degradation of soils and water, and as true scientists the students started figuring out solutions. Together with staff, students and local community members they took part in our Forests 4 Water program, rolling up their sleeves and planting seedlings from our forest nursery to protect springs and stream banks. A proactive approach to protecting soils and water before they get degraded and polluted. 

Next we learned about Syntropic Agriculture, as introduced into the region by well known Swiss scientist Ernest Gotsch. This form of agriculture seeks to reintroduce native vegetation without the use of agricultural chemicals. One of the secrets is to create ground cover, covering the soil with a thick blanket of organic matter such as leaves and branches of trees that have been pruned. This reproduces the forest environment, stimulates interactions between pl.ants, and prevents soil erosion during the rainy season - which is right now. It didn´t take the students long to understand the logic behind this activity, (which is contrary to traditional practices that encourage clearing ground cover to discourage snakes and other forms of wildlife.) They were happy to share the reasons behind it with their family members who work on the farms - thereby spreading the good news and impacting ever more people.

All this inspired us with an idea. In our isolated rural area with a shortge of reliable transport and our precarious dirt roads (which can easily become impassable in the rains,) how can we reach more potential ecoleadersit? We decided to use the faithful Kombi van - bought a couple of years ago thanks to a Giving Tuesday campaign. Starting in the New Year, our doughty little Kombi, now baptised the IracaKombi, will be equipped with books, tools, games and, best of all, Iracambi staff and students, and will pay monthly visits to schools and community centers in the region, bringing environmental education to places that we haven´t yet been able to reach, and helping us discover ever more young ecoleaders.All this in conjunction with our regular programs held at Iracambi.

So that is the plan, and we couldn´t wait to share it with you. And of course thank you once again for your amazing support on our recent Giving Tuesday campaign. We don´t yet have the final figures to include matching funds raised that day, but as soon as we know we´ll be sure to update you! 

Have a wonderful holiday season, and we´ll look forward to talking again soon,

rainforest love,

Ari, Luiz, Ana Paula, Leandro, the Eco Leaders and the IraKombi

Art from waste
Art from waste
Recycled Art
Recycled Art
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Studying rainforest soils
Studying rainforest soils

Dear friends, donors and supporters

Yes, I'm sure it's happened to you. You just complete a nice report, stop for a cup of coffee, and return to find that the report has GONE. Did you hit the wrong button, was there a momentary power outage? Never mind what happened, you grit your teeth, sit down and start over. 

But it's always a pleasure to share updates with you, dear donors. So before we go any further, we'd like to send you a big thank you for staying with us through thick and thin, because without you we wouldn't be here, and we certainly wouldn't be raising a new generation of young conservationists.

As you may have noticed, Brazil has been in the headlines a lot over the past weeks and months. What with the Olympic Games, and economic and political upheavals of heroic proportions, it's surprising that anything got done. But here in the rainforest we are far from the corridors of power, and we've been quietly getting on with the job. In fact the next important date on our calendar is at the end of the month when our Young Eco-Leaders have been invited to participate in Agro Ecology week at the Tech Institute in Muriaé (our nearest medium sized town, about forty km from here.) This will give them the chance to mingle with other budding young scientists and exchange news and views.

They will have plenty to talk about.This quarter we've been focusing on soils: why rainforest soils are generally low in fertility, what different types of soil we have, and how we can help create more fertile soils through using compost and simple home-made fertilizers. As befits curious young scientists, our students have been asking all sorts of smart questions - what makes soils fertile or infertile, how to increase permeability, why erosion occurs, how to prevent and remediate it, and how on earth microorganisms can play a role in both the decomposition and the restoration of soils. We've been looking at the process of decomposition by studying a tomato as it "rots," over the course of days, weeks and months, and we've also been making compost and seeing for ourselves how to çreate fertile soil from household food waste.

Since we are lucky enough to have a living laboratory in the Atlantic Forest, we've also been studying life cycles of birds, insects, small mammals and plants, using magnifying glasses, microscopes and camera traps. Check out the picture below - can you guess what animal walked through the Research Center this week? (Hint: one of the big cats...)

And of course we've been working on leadership skills: team building, problem solving and critical thinking. Many of our Eco-Leaders are first generation students, and by exposing them to real life science we are able to impact not only the students but also their families. The more they get to learn about the forest ecosystem, the more they come to appreciate it and care for it. And that benefits the forests, the students, and all of us. 

So, dear supporters, it's been a joy to talk with you, and once again, a big thank you for being there for us.

rainforest love,

Arielle, Luiz, Leandro and the Young Eco-Leaders        

getting down to it
getting down to it
look what we found!
look what we found!
baby forest vole
baby forest vole
whose print is this? (hint - a big cat)
whose print is this? (hint - a big cat)

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studying soils in the forest
studying soils in the forest

Dear supporters and friends,

Here is the latest update from our Young Eco Leaders who are hard at work changing their little corner of the world. And this semester we’ve been literally getting our hands dirty, learning about different soil types, about how different soils have different filtration rates, studying the rate of soil compaction, and discovering that different plants require different soils.

Of course being young and super energetic, our students love going out on our forest trails. So we took them on a long hike to find seeds for our forest nursery. They learned how to identify several different tree species by observing the shape of the tree, its leaves, bark, and fruits, and observing the birds that eat the fruit. It's a big job - did we tell you we have twenty thousand plant species in the Atlantic Forest?. We also talked about creating organic fertilizer, and discussed the environmental and economic benefits of using it. 

Later on we had a round table discussion on the challenges facing our community, and identified one problem which seems to be common to communities across the world: the quantity of garbage produced and discarded!  As good researchers, we paid a visit to the recycling unit in our town, interviewed the staff, and then carried out a survey of garbage produced by the community. It's amazing what you can learn from examining what people throw away! We were able to build up picture of local consumption habits and in return relate that to health problems like obesity and diabetes. (You've guessed it - lots and LOTS of empty soda bottles.) We also discussed how some forms of garbage could be recycled into useful and beautiful items. At the end of the day our students are beginning to acquire a notion of some of the complex questions facing our societies and some of the possible solutions.

But the most important thing is this. We want to help raise a new generation of young people who are critical and creative thinkers. We want them to share their insights and information, with each other and with their families, since they are full of energy and love to talk!  We were thinking about this last week when we had a meeting with the municipal Secretary of Education to talk about how we could involve the students more and more and really help them become change makers in the community. Because our future depends on them and it’s up to us, together with their families and teachers, to build a better future.

So we’re counting on your help, dear friends, because without you we couldn’t get it done.Together we’re fighting to create a program of environmental education that will transform our students and inspire them to go out and change the world!

rainforest love to you all, 

Arielle, Luiz, Demian and the Young Eco Leaders 

learning about filtration
learning about filtration
caring for the seedlings
caring for the seedlings
meeting the secretary of education
meeting the secretary of education

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Collecting the micro-organisms
Collecting the micro-organisms

Dear wonderful donors,

It's time to send you an update from our neck of the woods, and this quarter has been all about getting our hands dirty. Which is something that kids love to do - as do many of us who are kids at heart!

As you may have noticed, the weather patterns have been unusual lately. "Unusual" in our part of the world has meant that the rains arrived a full three months late - which is serious if you live in a rainforest. As a result, our students, their friends and families, and everyone they could rope in, have been getting their hands dirty planting out native tree seedlings from our forest nursery while the rains are with us.

Together we've been working with local farm families in the Environmental Protection Areas to reforest in catchment areas around springs and on stream banks, and, in order to ensure that those young trees have the best possible start, we've been making organic fertiliser. Using the Bokashi method of composting, we create a rich mixture based on living micro-organisms (yeasts, bacteria and fungi collected from the forest floor) fermented with rice, water and molasses. It's easy, it's fun, and it's effective. It speeds natural decomposition of organic matter, helps plants absorb nitrogen, and creates a healthy micro-environment for the young trees. Practical, hands-on science in the field, and the students love it. So do the young trees. 

And it's because of your support that we're able to raise a new generation of committed young scientists - we couldn't do it without you. So please accept a big thank you to each one of you!

rainforest love,

Toni, Arielle, Gui, Binka and the Young Eco Leaders   

Forest floor
Forest floor
mix with rice
mix with rice
dried mix
dried mix
time to ferment
time to ferment
Bokashi mix - not cola!
Bokashi mix - not cola!

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Organization Information

Iracambi

Location: Rosario da Limeira, MG - Brazil
Website:
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Project Leader:
Marina Silva
Rosario da Limeira, MG Brazil
$73,043 raised of $97,000 goal
 
648 donations
$23,957 to go
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