Notes from the Field: Passion for Peru

The fall trip to the Peruvian Amazon as part of the Detroit Zoological Society’s Adopt-A-School program has come to a close. Over the course of two weeks, our team of 21 staff members and volunteers were able to visit all 53 communities involved in the program. Even though each of these communities is facing challenges, they have shown their commitment to protecting the rainforest. The families clearly see the value of their children’s education.

To accomplish the evaluation for all the Adopt-A-School communities in a two-week period, we rely on volunteers from the city of Iquitos. Volunteerism is not a common practice in Peruvian culture; however the concept is growing. The volunteers this year included people in the fields of education, environmental sustainability and agriculture. The team was enthusiastic and dedicated, which was evidenced by the smiles of the children and hugs from community leaders. Their passion shined in the schools where they sang songs, told jokes and played games to help ensure students were comfortable with them before the evaluations began.

Volunteers support this program throughout the year, and now that the evaluations are complete, we are beginning to focus on our plans for next year. The Adopt-A-School program would not be able to function without the support of our volunteers from around the world. Without them and their contributions, we wouldn’t be able to deliver the donated school supplies to the communities at the beginning of the Peruvian school year. Our program volunteers contribute financially through a mandatory trip donation as well as providing their physical support and presence while they are in Peru.

If you’d like experience these beautiful places and meet some incredible people, consider volunteering with the Adopt-A-School program and join us in our travels to the rainforest in the spring: http://conapac.org/2016AmazonRainforestiBookletShort.pdf. If traveling to the Amazon is not for you, and you would like to contribute in a different way, please find a link to donate here: http://detroitzoo.org/support/give/adopt-a-school/.

– Carla Van Kampen is a curator of education for the Detroit Zoological Society. The Adopt-A-School program provides donated educational materials and supplies for schools in rural Amazonia. The DZS has partnered with Conservacion de la Naturaleza Amazonica del Peru (CONAPAC) in this conservation and education program since 1999.

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