My Young Heroes

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Regularly sprinkled throughout my posts, you find me talking about environmental education for young people. EE-4194Take a look here, and here . Along with many others, I share the view that the solution to our environmental crisis is through our youth who are open to new ideas and new world views. They are able to learn about Nature with awe and wonder. With these feelings comes an open mind that is able to build a new consciousness of unity with Nature rather than the predominant adult idea that Nature is to be owned, controlled, and manipulated for the economic benefit of humanity.

With this post, I want to praise a group of high school students at Colegio Americano in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. They are my heroes. This awesome group has created an education and conservation program that is currently being conducted at Colegio Americano for each grade. Some time next year, this program might be offered to all schools in the Guaymas area.

CAEnvEd-2259There are two things that are unique about this program. First, those of us who live or visit here are very fortunate to be physically close to Nature’s classroom. Our city is located adjacent to the Sea of Cortez as well as next to an important estuary known as El Estero del Soldado. The experiences of awe and wonder toward Nature are offered to  students as my heroes conduct classes within this estuary.

What makes this program really unique is that my group of heroes both manage and teach this program. I am only the mentor. There is a certain magic that takes place when students teach students. Normally frisky 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders listen with great attention when our high school students are doing the teaching and allowing everyone to touch, feel, and listen. Students listen and respond with zeal. It is a real thrill to watch my heroes in action.

David Ruiz Pardo is the student leader of this group. In making an application to the “Kids Are Heroes” program, he CAEnvEd-2359describes the group’s work as follows:

“We are a group of Mexican high school students who wish to make a difference. We are concerned about our environment and are aware of the power that we have in our hands to build a new conscientiousness for Nature within our society. We believe that education is an important conservation tool. That’s why we offer an environmental education program for other students in our school and for all young people in our community. With the help of a knowledgeable mentor, we are the teachers. Using a Socratic teaching style, we emphasize the value of every specie in the world and show how they are interconnected. We show that, even if one link is missing, it could be catastrophic. We believe that we are the future change agents of this world as we offer our fresh minds.”

EE-4288“We are very fortunate to live in one of the relatively few places in the world where we have a living ecological classroom and laboratory very close by. It is an important protected estuary within our community of Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. By conducting part of our program at this estuary, our students can experience the awe and wonder of Nature.”

“Each learning experience consists of a 45 minutes introductory talk in a EE-4309regular classroom a few days before the field trip to the estuary. In this talk, we emphasize how everything is connected and why the estuary contributes to the ecological resilience of the adjoining Sea of Cortez . During the two hour field trip, our students participate in small discussion groups at specific locations within the sanctuary. The subjects of these discussions include flora, fauna, man’s impact on the estuary, and an exercise in examining some important ecological connections within the estuary.”

Take a look at my gang of heroes in action. They are awesome !!!!! 

CAEnvEd-2355This month will be my last month working at the school for a while. I have a need to write books and blog posts as well as to do more Nature photography. In my absence, a great mentor will be available. But, I leave with full confidence that my heroes will carry on nicely without me.

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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

15 thoughts on “My Young Heroes”

  1. This is so exciting to read, Bill! These kids are the future and you have given them the tools that they will need to ensure that their future and the futures of their kids will still have the natural areas that we all take for granted right now. Congratulations to all of them for their hard work and dedication to preserving and conserving these special places. And, best of luck to them in sharing their compassion and knowledge with other schools across the Guaymas area.

    1. Hi Annette:

      Thanks so much for your encouraging remarks. I might add that those of you who visit the Guaymas area might join us in our efforts even if your stay is brief or intermittent.

  2. One of my favorite mantras is: “We care about things that we love, we can only love the things we experience and know.” Teaching our youth about the natural areas near them helps foster a sense of stewardship that lasts a lifetime. When we develop a relationship with our natural surroundings, we tend to want to protect and conserve those areas. What a great job this crew is doing- I’m so proud!!

    1. Hi Heather:

      What is so gratifying is that environmental education programs for youth are growing. Many of them are coming from private organizations. Not just school systems. In our case, my heroes do all the teaching. The impact is powerful. Normally feisty young ones not only listen, but are really engaged. So, I think a positive message is being heard and absorbed.

  3. Bill,
    We appreciate your effort in guiding this young adults in their pursuit of their goals and their passion for making a difference in Guaymas. I promise you that in Colamex we will be doing all in our power to keep encoraging and suporting not only this students but all the ones that take their education seriously and are prepared to make a difference at their age.

    Be well and safe and we spect your return good luck with your books.

    1. And thanks to you, Pepe. This program would not have achieved its success without your able administrative skills, moral support, and your active enthusiasm. I was energized as I worked with you. I am also grateful to Mariel Llano for her insight and support in developing the initial concept. It was Mariel who suggested that the students become the teachers.

  4. Thanks, you’ve done it again, Bill. To encourage these youngsters is a wonderful undertaking. Since we are all connected I hope this spreads like a mushroom colony to other emerging youth. Too much technology and not enough nature.

    1. Much of the success has to do with the high maturity level of these young people. They are all serious students. All are first year high school students which leaves them with two more years of opportunity in this program.

  5. Bill

    This looks like a fantastic programme. I’m involved with A Focus on Nature in the UK which provides conservation mentors for young people in quite a similar way to this scheme.

    I’m also planning to help organise a conference for young people where other young people provide training on conservation skills – from photography, to ecology through to campaigning. I’m sure I could learn a lot from you and from the young people who run this project.

    Do you think you might be able to connect me with them?

    thanks if so.


    1. Hi Matt:

      Thank you so much for your comment. This is the true power of the Internet as we make these connections. This morning, I will be emailing the student leader with your comment and contact information. I will copy you. Many thanks !!!!

  6. Hi, Matt.

    I’ m David. One of the students from this program.

    I’ll love to contact you. I think it’s really important for both groups to be in touch so that way we could both get enriched.

    I actuallly send you a Facebook friend request. Please, accept it.

    Before hand, thanks. Best wishes!

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