Ecuador Summer Program
Our Ecuador program is ideal for high school students with a strong interest in environmental sustainability, and particularly natural resource management and international development.
Come to Ecuador and experience the majesty of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people that live there. Hike along a crater lake at 12,000 feet of elevation in the heart of the Andes. Learn about sustainable food production models while living in a rural community in one of Ecuador’s major agricultural regions. We’ll also be learning about reforestation, rainforest ecology, and sustainable development of the Amazon’s natural resources. Throughout the program there are ample opportunities for interactions with local culture and to learn about the challenges associated with sustainable natural resource management in Ecuador.
There are so many reasons we love Ecuador, but one of our favorites is that nowhere else can you find such biodiversity in such a geographical small space. Ecuador is the most biodiverse country on Earth relative to size. This program takes full advantage of that fact by bringing students into cloud forest, high alpine mountains, tropical riparian corridors, and rainforest. Additionally, few places are as critical to the overall health of our planet as the Amazon rainforest. Ecuador’s Amazon is ground zero for extractive industries – oil, minerals, timber, etc – seeking to reap economic gain and fuel our insatiable global ‘need’ for these resources. The pressure to develop the Amazon’s considerable natural resources has led to watershed contamination, deforestation, displacement and harm to the indigenous population, and much more.
In this Sustainable Summer program…
- You’ll learn about Ecuador’s push to develop ‘renewable’ energy from hydro that is financially and environmentally spurious.
- You’ll visit chakras, the ‘forest gardens’ of the indigenous Kichwa people
- You’ll consider economic solutions to natural resource management in a global context, like the role of social enterprises and micro-finance in sustainable development
- You’ll examine the ecological impacts of our global hunger for non-renewable resources, which have depleted the Amazon’s ecological health while contributing massively to climate change, species extinction, and local health issues.
As a result of participation, our objective is that students will be able to…
- Effectively communicate the principles of sustainable development and recognize these principles within the context of Ecuadorian environmental and economic systems
- Describe the difference between primary and secondary forest
- Understand and explain some of the ecosystem services provided by the rainforest
- Understand and explain the environmental and economic benefits of reforestation
- Describe some of the traditional uses of the rainforest by indigenous people in the region and understand basic jungle survival skills
- Understand the environmental and societal benefits of community-owned means of production
- Understand the environmental benefits of polycultures, shade-grown, and native crops
- Understand some of the economic and political reasons why sustainable development and conservation initiatives are unsuccessful
- Understand the basic characteristics and ecological importance of tropical riparian zones, and some of the environmental threats to the Napo watershed
- Understand the rationale for and benefits of multi-stakeholder decision making in the development and management of natural resources
- Demonstrate beginner paddling technique, including basic paddling strokes, identifying different “features” in the river, awareness of hazards, and competence to navigate a kayak or raft in Class II whitewater