My family has been working with Paso Pacifico for several years. I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand the positive impact the organization makes for both the environment and the wonderful people of Nicaragua.
I have been honered to work multiple times with Paso Pacifico in Nicaragua. They have been a great partner in helping us reach out to rural schools along the Pacific Coast. The organizations contacts with schools and communities have allowed us to help thousands of children and their families. Their help has been invaluable to getting aid to these areas.
I begun volunteering with Paso Pacifico in 2009 when I volunteered as an English Language Instructor, recently I returned to Nicaragua to collaborate in community guide training and conduct research on access to environmental protected areas (2015- current). I have lived in Ostional, where they have a main office, for over 4 months.
I found that Paso Pacifíco is largely perceived as an organization of good repute among locals; throughout my stay, many community members described it as an organization that consistently demonstrates interest in listening to and responding to local needs and ideas. Additionally, to working in biodiversity efforts, Paso Pacífico truly cares for their staff and local affiliates, it supports small-scale humanitarian work providing food, medical supplies and educational resources to local communities. It has also collaborates in providing training in computer use, English language education and small-scale entrepreneurial capacity building. Nicaragua is one of the most impoverished nations in the worlds- so the impact of going the extra mile by caring for people, as well as a environmental mission, is tremendous.
Having conducted over 20 interviews with locals affiliated directly and indirectly with Paso Pacifico I know the work they do it making a tremendous difference in raising conscientiousness around environmental issues, developing capacity and skills among the communities, and protecting wildlife. Being affiliated with an organization of such repute leads to sustainable environmental projects, the change is already happening.
I am the founding board president of Paso Pacifico, a conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Pacific slope ecosystems of Central America. From its inception, Paso Pacifico has been clear about its mission, has collected passionate followers, talented and skilled staff and the commitment and involvement of local communities. Crossing the three program areas of Science, conservation and education, this impressive organization has developed innovative models and programs to study and protect the needs of all the species in this biological hotspot. Flagship species include the back-handed spider monkey, the yellow-naped Amazon parrot, four species of endangered sea turtles and jaguars.
The projects are implemented by dedicated staff and volunteers, which include college students, community leaders and seasoned scientists.
The unique and creative programs developed by Paso Pacifico have been recipients of many awards and accolades from the conservation community for providing viable tools for addressing biodiversity loss and climate change. Most recently, a Hollywood special effects artist worked with a Paso Pacifico ecologist to create fake sea turtle eggs that are actually GPS-enabled decoys. These decoys have enabled Paso Pacifico to track the eggs from the beach to market and help put an end to illegal poaching networks.
I am continually inspired by environmental programs targeting the youth through education to ensure the commitment and dedication of conservation for the future. The Junior Rangers, ages 8-14, engage in regular workshops focused on environmental knowledge and stewardship. The students earn badges for each educational module and then serve as proud ambassadors for conservation in their communities. The Junior Rangers also engage in bi-monthly monitoring of birds and primates in forests neighboring their farms and communities. It is so inspiring to watch these youngsters gain skills in data management, wildlife observation and cooperation with their peers.
I have no doubt that Paso Pacifico will continue to make a difference to people and our planet in transformative ways.
I have volunteered with Paso Pacifico since 2014, first assisting with the native stingless bee keeping program, then leading a project to inventory native bee species in the Paso del Istmo, the region of focus for Paso Pacifico. I have also helped with compiling the data generated by Paso Pacifico's Audubon Christmas Bird Count, which it has organized since 2015.
To me, what is most exemplary about Paso Pacifico's work is how it creates opportunities for local community members to learn, achieve, and contribute in the realm of conservation. This means investing considerable resources in training local people and trusting them to carry out responsibilities like counting sea turtle hatchlings, tracking Yellow-naped Amazon Parrots with radio telemetry, taking care of hundreds of planted trees, collecting specimens of obscure insects, following spider monkeys through rugged terrain, and leading the way in oyster farming on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast.
Paso Pacifico's patient, persistent investment in people, on the ground, demonstrates a long-term vision and commitment to biodiverse, ecologically intact, prosperous, sustainable communities. Perhaps Paso Pacifico's greatest conservation success is its Junior Ranger Program, which affirms the idea that conservation of ecosystems in Nicaragua rests firmly in the hands of the young generation of Nicaraguans.