Meet AEP’s newest faces

The team of the Azuero Earth Project is always changing, it is a NGO that interacts a lot with the local and international community seeking the creation of bonds of cooperation in favor of sustainable development, on October 23 we welcomed a new group of volunteers and practitioners from different parts of the world, they have come to support the projects and objectives of the organization, they have been quickly integrated and have defined the goals to be met.

In the area of reforestation and nursery we have Timo Viel, a conservation biologist, and Gerwald Meulman a student of International Business. Both will be working on the preparation of seedlings for the reforestation of 2018, in addition to giving care and monitoring to the thousands of trees planted in this year 2017. Both enjoy the cultural exchange that occurs within the project, are very active and persistent in their important work.

In the education area is Carolyn Balk. She will be working on the school initiative of the spider monkey; she enjoys the Panamanian culture and visiting the different natural and cultural landscapes of the Azuero region.

In the area of institutional development is Marit Overgoor, an international business student from the Netherlands, she demonstrates great camaraderie and dedication in her work and is improving her Spanish language while working on the administrative functions of the Azuero earth project.

Also there are with us Emmanuel Medina and Eloy González, practitioners of the IPAN high school in Pedasí; and Francisco Huang and Vicente Vásquez, practitioners of the Soyuz Bilingual School of Chitré. They will be supporting all areas of the organization and will be administering the social networks and the project website.

For the Azuero Earth Project it is very important the work done by the practitioners and volunteer because they are the energy that keeps the project moving, their dedication shows the value of volunteering, their knowledge and culture enriches the history of the organization and their efforts push the initiatives to make them a complete success.

National Award for Environmental Excellence

Azuero Earth Project wins national environmental prize 2017 in the category of NGO environmental commitment

We face great challenges in environmental and social matters, that’s why it is important to cooperate and integrate all the components of Panamanian society. The Azuero Earth Project seeks to contribute to this issue through education in rural society, which is primarily the most affected by climate changes, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss.

The Panamanian Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente) recognizes AEP’s effort and commitment through the award for environmental excellence in the NGO category given to people and organizations that perform good practices in environmental management and that have contributed to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. To the Azuero Earth Project, his award means a lot, indicating that our methods of environmental education are becoming known and offers new possibilities for cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The Spider Monkey Education Initiative was awarded the excellence award in the NGO commitment category. This initiative is our first front of awareness creation in the communities closest to the remaining habitat of the Azuero spider monkey, a subspecies endemic to the Azuero region, and in critical danger of extinction according to the IUCN red list. Through the initiative, which is active in the communities closest to an ecological corridor that AEP hopes to create between the remaining tropical dry forest near Achotines laboratory and the elbow of La Tronosa Forest Reserve, the children learn about topics such as the importance of the different types of forests, the trees and fruits associated with monkey presence, and the role of the community in the conservation of biodiversity and watersheds.

The school initiative has been active since 2010 and every year the relationship with the 8 participating Los Santos communities is stronger. In these towns, the Azuero Earth Project is recognized as a close collaborator of the communities, the students, and the owners of local farms interested in reforestation. The environmental situation may become worse in the following years but surely there will be more people who will join in this national commitment to care for the environment.

For more information about the national Environmental Excellence Prize 2017, please see MiAmbiente’s webpage:

Vicente Álexander Vasquez Velasquez

Meet AEP’s Newest Collaborators!

AEP´s new collaborators: Ashley Stonecipher, Sarah Graves, Lesly Oderay Candelaria, Hannah Metzel, Sabina Roan, and Victor Tran (from top left to bottom right), c. photo subjects

The Azuero Earth Project welcomes several new collaborators to the office in Pedasí who will be conducting research and projects related to environmental conservation and sustainable development. They are eager to meet the Pedasí community and to explore the Azuero Peninsula through their projects!

Ashley Stonecipher, Pedasí School Gardens Consultant, Peace Corps

Ashley is working with the Pedasí school, Instituto Plinio A. Moscoso, to develop an organic garden with the school´s students and faculty. Ashley comes to AEP having recently completed 2 ½ years in Peace Corps Paraguay working on sustainable agriculture with local farmers and women and teaching about the importance of organic gardening. Ashley received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Horticulture with a specialization in Public Garden Management and a MS in Business Management and a MA in International Business at the University of Florida.

Sarah Graves, University of Florida Field Research Team

Sarah is conducting research to quantify the species diversity and carbon content of the dispersed trees throughout cattle pastures using high-resolution hyper-spectral aerial imagery and LiDAR data. Sarah is earning her Master of Science in Forest Resources and Conservation at UF, advised by Dr. Stephanie Bohlman. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Environmental Science. Sarah then attended the University of Wisconsin to earn a professional certificate in geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing.

Lesly Oderay Candelaria, University of Florida Field Research Team

As a part of her professional internship through the University of Panama in Penonomé, Lesly forms part of the University of Florida field investigation team that seeks to quantify the species diversity and carbon content of the dispersed trees throughout cattle pastures using high-resolution hyper-spectral aerial imagery and LiDAR data. Lesly is in the fourth year of her undergraduate degree in Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Panama in Penonomé.

Hannah Metzel, Environmental Education Intern

Hannah is collaborating with AEP to develop the curriculum for the Pro-Eco Pela´os program. She is double majoring in Environmental Studies and Government at Connecticut College. Through volunteering at the West Hill Park in her hometown and taking several courses in Environmental Science, she has developed an interest in the transformation from fossil fuels to renewable resources. After Connecticut College Hannah plans to attend law school and pursue a career in Environmental Law.

Sabina Roan, GIS Mapping Intern

Sabina is focusing on adding to and updating AEP´s GIS database, as well as participating in AEP´s recycling and the Pro-Eco Pela´os programs and the local turtle monitoring group. Sabina just completed a bachelor degree in Geography with a concentration in Urban Systems at McGill University in Montréal, Canada. Her minors were in Geographic Information Systems and Environment.

Victor Tran, Organiculture Intern

Victor is collaborating with AEP´s Organiculture program to research natural pest management systems and to help out in the experimental organic garden. Victor is visiting from the AEP from Montreal, QC in Canada where he studies Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at McGill University. He comes as a first time traveller to Panama. While not spending time in the gardens, he hopes to learn more about the Panamanian lifestyle by interacting with people in the community, and visiting local farmers in the region.

To learn about about these new collaborators, visit the Collaborators page.

SIT Student Researcher Surveys Peninsula Farmers about Agricultural Practices

Alexandra Guest on Volcán Baru, c. Julia Brokaw

The Azuero Earth Project welcomed a new student researcher, Alexandra Guest, to Pedasí on April 15. For the last month of her university semester abroad Alexandra is conducting an independent study project (ISP) in collaboration with the Azuero Earth Project. She is partnering with AEP´s Organiculture Program to investigate the state of agriculture on the Azuero Peninsula through surveys with local producers on their current practices. This research will inform land owner thoughts and opinions, as well as the policies that exist to protect the native tropical dry forest.

Alexandra is a college junior at Skidmore College studying Environmental Science, focusing on animal physiology and climate change impacts on animal adaptation. Alexandra is currently part of a study abroad program in Panama called ¨Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems and Biodiversity Conservation¨ with the School for International Training (SIT).

Written by Sophie M. Fuchs

Meet Visiting Research Students from McGill!

c. Elana Evans

This January-April, AEP welcomes Elana Evans and Iké Green-Nault, two undergraduate students from McGill University in Montreal, Canada who will be interning with Pedasí’s Turtle Conservation Group. 

Elana Evans: Elana is a senior studying Environmental sciences Originally from Toronto, she has also lived in Calgary, Montreal and Italy. Her favourite pastimes are going on canoe trips, checking out live music and taking photos. She is very excited to be in Pedasi and working with the Turtle group!

Iké Green-Nault: Iké is currently studying Environmental Science. A passion for biology and conservation issues, combined with an equal passion for the summer, for Latin America and for the Spanish language made Panama a prize destination. He is here to study and to assist Pedasí’s marine turtle conservation initiative.

c. Ike Green-Nault

Pedasi Recycles!

c. Guillermo Duran

At 3pm on Friday, November 16 2012 at Azuero Earth Project, interns Pedro and Enita Cerrud  organized a “Painting and Movie Night”, attended by 42 people, including students from Pedasi High School, Instituto Plinio A. Moscoso y members of the community. The youth painted recycling bins, resulting in a lottery in which participants won t-shirts and maps of the Project.

In recognition of all their help, Pedro and Enita offered participants a free meal of lasagna and garlic bread with refreshed that everyone enjoyed!

After the dinner, the interns showed the movie: “Horton Hears a Who”(2008), with popcorn and refreshments for the movie viewers. The movie tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a tiny world of “who” people living on a flower and decides to protect it, despite the fact that his community do not believe it exists. As Horton explains: “A person is a person, no matter how small”.

“We are very thankful to everyone who attended this event. Thanks to you all, it was a big success!”, said Pedro and Enita.

During the event attendees participated in a lottery asking the following trivia questions related to the Recycle Pedasí program. See if you also know the answers:

Question: Where are the recycling bins located in Pedasí?

Correct Answer:

  1. The Azuero Earth Project
  2. Distribuidora LIBADI
  3. Residencial Pedasí
  4. Cooperative Rancho, Bajadero/Arenal Beach
  5. Pedasí High School (Instituto Plinio Antonio Moscoso)
  6. Estación Edy
  7. Clarisa and Cusi´s house, Main Plaza

Question: Which materials are recycled by the Recycle Pedasí project in Pedasí?

Correct answer: Hard plastic and cans (aluminum and junk parts)

Winners were given t-shirts and maps of the Project. Do you want to participate in more activities related to recycling in Pedasí? If so, join the Recicla Pedasí (Recycle Pedasí) group on Facebook. The Recicla Pedasí project encourages education and culture of recycling as a method to protect natural resources and our health throughout our region and collaborates with the Alcadia, the Movimiento Juvenil Pedasí Verde, the Instituto P.A.M., the Azuero Earth Project, and the Organization de Niños de Azuero.

Azuero Earth Project´s First Time in the Pedasí Parade!

AEP´s cart, c. Vernon Scholey

The Azuero Earth Project participated in Pedasí´s local parade (desfile de carretas) for the first time ever on October 27. Led by Leo Mena, AEP´s eco-guide expert and Princeton in Latin America fellow, and Jairo Batista, AEP’s organic gardener, staff and friends constructed an ox-drawn cart (carreta) representing the dry forest of the Azuero. While this design differed from the typical rancho structure, AEP’s cart incorporated traditional elements, such as motetes (woven backpacks) and coconut treats (cocadas) made by AEP staff member Josefina Pérez.

AEP´s flag bearer, Sophie Fuchs, c. Leo Mena

Everyone took part in this celebratory event: Children dressed in folkloric attire – sombrero pintado for the boys and polleras for the girls – rode on top of the cart waving and throwing treats into the passing crowd. Our flag-bearer (abanderada) was Sophie Fuchs, AEP’s organic farming expert and other Princeton in Latin America Fellow. She waved AEP’s spider monkey flag, leading the group through the parade that marched around Pedasí’s central plaza. Staff and supporters marched behind the cart dancing, playing drums, and singing traditional songs with lyrics transformed to carry environmental messages. Members of the ANAM office in Las Tablas and students from the University of Las Tablas also attended the event to support the Project.

Gael Quintero in a traditional sombrero pintado, c. Sophie Fuchs

AEP’s traditional “tamborito” songs about the spider monkey and how to protect Azuero’s forest to spread powerful environmental messages through familiar tunes. As AEP staff and supporters sang “Ay qué será de él”, the song about the spider monkey, they held up a bangaña, a dried gourd with a spider monkey carved into it. The event itself represented an important opportunity for the Azuero Earth Project to take part in community activities and to explore local traditions while sharing a message of  environmental protection with the community. The Azuero Earth Project hopes to participate in future folkloric community events and welcomes your participation!

Lyrics to “Ay qué será de él¨

Lyrics to ¨Que se proteja el monte¨

Written by Sophie M. Fuchs

Meet your Neighborhood Researchers!

Michele Goodfellow: Michele Goodfellow is completing her undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Conservation at the University of Florida.  From May-June 2012, she is partnering with Eduardo Ducreuz, a student from Panama’s Technological University in order to map the trees in the Azuero peninsula and determine their contribution to carbon intake as an undergraduate field assistant to Stephanie Bohlman, professor at the University of Florida.

Michael Bauman: Michael Bauman is a Master’s student from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida and is here on the Azuero from May to July. The goal of Michael’s project is to use ecological and social characteristics of the province to determine areas important for forest conservation. This season, he will be conducting interviews with organizations and landowners throughout the province to assess levels of organizational support for forest conservation and restoration programs and landowners’ willingness to conserve and restore forests.

Preservation Meets Paradise – Edwina von Gal featured in the Wall Street Journal

When celebrated garden designer Edwina von Gal journeyed to the dry forests of Panama, she found an idyllic spot for an off-the-grid home—and an outlet for her lifelong passion for sustaining landscapes

AEP Co-Founder and President, Edwina von Gal is featured in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal Magazine. Preservation Meets Paradise, by Edward Helmore discusses Edwina’s passion for natural landscapes and how she has translated this into her life’s work.

The article mentions the Azuero Earth Project and its mission of preserving the dry forest ecosystem:  “Their goal is mapping and finding new ways to protect plant and animal species in the dry forest. Some programs use satellite imaging to compare tracts of forest and detect changes in soil and vegetation; some involve fieldwork (her team recently traveled deep into the Cerro Hoya, setting cameras to monitor the movement of ocelots and puma); some are educational, such as creating a local network to test new seed varieties and organic-farming methods.”

2011 Year-End Report: Inspiring Sustainability


The Azuero Earth Project is proud to announce our 2011 Year-End Report: Inspiring Sustainability. Incorporating great design at no cost to the environment, (we resisted the urge to print copies) it perfectly personifies what we do. You can read the 2011 Year-End Report here.


In 2011 we expanded our effectiveness in creating sensible environmental solutions through education, outreach, and knowledge-sharing at both the local and international levels. None of this work would be possible without the passion, determination, and vision of our partners and donors to whom we are grateful. Thank you!