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Environmental Education in Ecuador: Inspiring Young Minds with “Viajeros del Oceano.”

This year, our environmental education program in Ecuador embarked on a remarkable journey with the ambitious goal of distributing 1000 “Viajeros del Oceano” books to sixth and seventh-grade students ranging in age from 10 to 12. Spearheaded by our Ecuador Programs Director, Dr. Cristina Castro, in collaboration with experts from organizations such as Migramar, Baby Shark, and Ocean Blue Tree, this book was meticulously designed to provide supplementary information for natural science classes. However, it goes above and beyond by using local marine biodiversity to explain concepts like animal classification, ecosystems, food chains, migration, and other topics that enhance children’s understanding of their natural surroundings. 

A young boy sitting at a desk coloring in a whale workbook.

Our project began with the training of 27 natural science teachers, including an immersive whale-watching experience and an in-depth guide on effectively utilizing the “Viajeros del Oceano” book as a supplementary educational resource in natural science classrooms. As of September, we have successfully distributed 927 books, visiting 18 educational institutions in Puerto Lopez, Salango, and Machalilla to the south of Manabi in Ecuador. Our reach has extended to various communities, including Puerto Lopez itself, as well as nearby towns such as Pueblo Nuevo, San Isidro, and Agua Blanca.

During each visit, we conduct a presentation on the five major threats facing cetaceans, aligning with the Pacific Whale Foundation’s action areas. We address the issues of plastic pollution, unsustainable tourism, bycatch, vessel collisions, and climate change. We engage students in games and activities to educate them on how to prevent and mitigate these problems.

Throughout our journey, we encountered delightful surprises, from young students with impressive knowledge and passion for whales and dolphins to teachers deeply committed to environmental education for their students. Additionally, we have also given talks to older students in high school, inviting them to participate in our beach clean-up initiatives.

In total, we have empowered 1,248 student beneficiaries in Ecuador through the PWF environmental education program, and we’ve equipped 27 teachers with the skills to impart science education with a focus on marine mammals and other marine megafauna.

This significant achievement has been made possible through the collaborative efforts of various institutions, including the Puerto Lopez Municipal Government, Governments from each of these communities, the Education District, and each of the welcoming educational institutions that open their doors to us.

As we approach the conclusion of our monumental project, we are filled with cherished memories and the optimism that these brief encounters have left a lasting impact on the young minds we have engaged with. Our commitment to nurturing an environmentally conscious generation, destined to safeguard our invaluable marine ecosystems, remains steadfast. Together, we have the power to make a difference, one book at a time.