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Joanne Fritz

Cause of the Week: Ecology Project International

By March 25, 2010

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Ecology Project International (EPI) is the only organization that partners local students with scientists doing hands-on conservation projects. Engaging local youth is essential to creating the next generation of conservation leaders, to protect the amazing biodiversity of our planet.

EPI involves under-served youth in conservation science projects with researchers to protect threatened species and places.

EPI's programs in Costa Rica, Galapagos Islands, Mexico, and Montana focus on local high school students, taking them out of the classroom and into some of the most biologically diverse and unique ecosystems in the world - that is, their backyards.

Despite living next to areas that are international tourist destinations, many of these youth never have the opportunity to experience these natural wonders, and thus have little incentive to protect them.

Seeing the immensity of a Blue whale, the ancient Leatherback sea turtle, or observing a wolf in its natural habitat for the first time is a transformative experience.

After being immersed in the outdoors, students return inspired by the natural wonders they didn't know existed, and empowered through participation in real conservation projects that preserve and protect the animals and landscapes they have come to care for.

Youth understand that they can make a difference in the world, and are equipped with knowledge of how they can contribute to the protection of the world's delicate ecosystems.

Kelsey Stamm, Grants and Outreach Coordinator for EPI, said, "After returning from El Salvador after Peace Corps, I discovered EPI in Missoula, Montana when I was looking for a job. Wanting to maintain ties with Latin America, I was amazed by this non-profit and its innovative approach to conservation and empowering youth. As staff, I continue to be inspired."

Some ways for you to help or get involved:

  • Visit EPI's "Meet Our Participants" page to meet some inspiring young people and find out what EPI means to them.
  • Participate in one of EPI's programs and experience some of the world's most unique places for yourself.
  • Join the Conservation Club and choose a monthly gift amount to help students and scientists continue their conservation work and learning.
  • Contribute to the EPI scholarship fund, and help empower disadvantaged youth to be future conservation leaders.
  • Sponsor a turtle - your gift will ensure that the critically endangered Leatherback sea turtle is protected.
  • Whether you are a professional or student, share your expertise and volunteerism!
  • Donate services or equipment

Do you want to be our Cause of the Week? Tell us who you are and why you should be featured in our blog right here. We would love to hear from you.

Photo: Raven Dryden, EPI participant.

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