Loads of Lessons - For a Healthier Planet!

Art of Conservation in-country-staff, volunteers, board, and dear friends have so many great things going on that I want to share it all in every last detail and image... but I've gotten way behind... so this post - a quick visual journal jumping to just a few elements - from the culmination of intense AoC One-Health Habits lessons (at this point we reached Get Regular Exercise), to the introduction of the Basic Elements and Principals of Art, to Exploring our Blue Planet


 'Double Boat' pose by students in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Session after session, we happily use a kit of cards encased in a box called Yoga Pretzels - 50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids & Grownups by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, introduced by Baron Baptiste (what an amazing person!), and illustrated by Sophie Fatus. And time after time, our students love these lessons which we gear toward the importance of teamwork, trust, and building strength from within. Oh, yes, and pure fun!

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SNACKS! A Veces!

Snacks are everywhere you turn so we brought in a lesson to the kids at "Ignacio Zaragoza" primary school that if you really must have a snack.... make it only SOMETIMES! 'A veces' is 'sometimes' in Spanish as you can probably guess. We all know this junk is doing horrible stuff to our bodies and minds. Hopefully the children will be more mindful now. Below, thanks to Alejandra, my Spanish teacher (middle), Stephen, owner of the Spanish school (right), and Lelle, fellow classmate (left) we made a fun interactive board with what is a clear message that this stuff is NO GOOD!

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Students place snack cards on our board with the photo of Lelle, Alexandra, and Stephen showing great disapproval to soda pop, candy bars, and more processed junk food.

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Creating Our Own Well-Balanced Meal

Stressing that we want to eat a variety of foods everyday Art of Conservation students are ready to make their own very best nutritional dream meal - out of colored construction paper. Without hesitation, Manuel and I saw watermelon, fish, papaya, carrots, chilies and more come to form and glued to paper plates.

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 Creating a well-balanced meal with foods from different food groups.

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Nutrition Lesson Preparation - Poc Choc, Cacao, & Tortillas

It was a global leap relocating Art of Conservation's base of operations from Rwanda to Mexico, but our mission remains consistent. For example... we focus on the protection of our planets great and fecund rainforests which lie north and south of the equator between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In preparation for AoC's upcoming Staying Healthy class on nutrition, I reviewed our notes from Rwanda and determined that many of the staple foods in Central Africa are similar to those of the Yucatan Peninsula. Foods, such as the avocado, have their origins in Mexico but are abundant - and delicious - in Rwanda too. Papaya, squash, sweet potatoes, beans, cacao/chocolate, honey are more foods grown in the tropics and eaten abundantly albeit with each regions special touch of spices and preparations. Also, regions have unique connotations for its foods. Corn, in the Maya world, has mythical status. And why not? It was their most important food source and is perhaps our first feat of genetic engineering.


Manuel sits in front of a nice selection of aguas frescas, tortillas, rice, beans, chili rellenos, chicken, and vegetables at a local 'fonda' in Tulum.

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"Food for Thought"—CHT Highlights Food Chains in its Classes

Hey, everyone! This is Innocent, from Conservation Heritage – Turambe (CHT), with news about our recent class on food chains taught to our primary-five school children!


As it reads on the desk above, our vocabulary for the day includes: food chain, herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore!


Valerie, pictured on the right, can be seen teaching the children what makes a “food chain” as Innocent, pictured on the left, translates!

Besides herbivores, Valerie goes on to give more examples of food chain components including: carnivores, omnivores, and "recyclers". She also mentions that food chains always begin with plants.

Early on in the school year, the CHT team told its students that it would be hosting an event called “Parents as Partners: Open House” at the end of the school year—parents and/or guardians would  be invited. Therefore, after the food chain discussion, each student received an envelope containing all of his or her school work from the 2014 school year!


Using a pair of scissors, the students, pictured above, can be seen cutting construction paper to decorate their envelopes with!

 The CHT Team’s directions to our students include two simple instructions: decorating the envelopes to their own liking and correctly naming them!  These envelopes will be used by the children during the “Parents as Partners: Open House” in October.  As Art of Conservation once did, we scan each student’s work from the entire school year, and then those copies are returned to each individual student so that they may share what they've learned with their parents or guardians. Parents, local leaders, director of the school are able to learn more about what our student do with us for the entire year.


Stay tuned!





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Keep A Clean Home & School

The Mayan language is so interesting to listen to and see in writing. For me, it is reminiscent of the many fabulous voices I heard during my travels in southern Africa in which people add clicking sounds. Well, the Maya speak with clicks as well. The children in our Art of Conservation Creative Learning and One-Health Awareness program speak at least two languages - Mayan and Spanish. Manuel and I juggle between three languages in our delivery of lessons - English, Spanish, and a little Mayan. The children and most notably their lovely teacher Remigio help Manuel and me with the Mayan. Remigio is a big advocate of keeping the language alive by encouraging parents to speak the language in the house with the family. I'll be honest with you... at present I am focusing all my efforts on the Spanish language... Mayan won't be for awhile but it's perfect just to be listening in.

The Mayan word for home is naj otoch and for our One-Health Habits lessons - Keep a Clean Home is the subject.

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Energetic students race around the schoolyard picking trash.

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Healthy Kids

Children at Primaria "Ignacio Zarargoza" in Mexico are learning and practicing Art of Conservation's One-Health Habits. We begin with Practice Good Hygiene lessons. You can see from the segment of our banner (below) which hangs in the classroom that Wash your hands, Wash your body, and Brush your teeth are our first habits to strengthen.  


Happening now... lessons teaching children how to care for their physical, mental, and sexual health and how to prevent common illnesses.

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The Scientific Name for Jaguar Is?

Our first Art of Conservation class session together and already handed a TEST? What a bummer!


 Day 1 and already a test?

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Fabulous Beginning at Nearby Maya Community

Manuel and I have been busy preparing for our first programming in Art of Conservation's new Caribbean Basin location. We've laid the groundwork in a town called Macario Gomez in what was the heart of the Maya's Post-Classic period.

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“Don’t be off-put by her lack of limbs. She’s a sweetheart—most of the time.”—Meet AoC's Blogger and Content Editor, Matt Charnock

      “Look! It’s a bird, it’s a plane … Wait, is it barefoot too?” Don’t forget it’s infatuated with conservation and herpetology as well.  Some of you may already be acquainted with me formally or informally for that matter, but I’ve been partnering with the Art of Conservation (AoC) and its sister organization, Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT), since June of this year.  To date, I’ve helped manage our various social media outlets, edit literary content, and aid in spreading our one-health awareness message to the ecocentric masses. But enough about my side-jobs, here’s a bit about me.


     Aside from my journalism, I also breed, rescue, and raise both pythons and boas from across the globe. Pictured here is Yonce, the fourteen foot African rock python (Python s. sebae).

            On September 30th, 1991, I was brought into this world via a natural birth. And since then, I’ve been dead-set on one mission—connecting people to their environmentally conscious self. Even in my grossly overweight younger years, I was sneaking in the occasional creature I’d found while at recess back into the classroom, preaching my sustainability ethics to my less engorged peers; I had so many friends as you could imagine.

            As time progressed and puberty diatonically shifted my voice, I still held onto that environmental ethos with an unbreakable vice. And with the onset of age came wisdom and eloquence —vertical endowment eluded me, however.  At the ripe-young age of twenty-two, I've been featured in numerous publications and continue to bring consciousness to this endangered terra firma we call our only home—sorry, Mars.



     I regularly travel to schools, organizations, etc. to advocate sustainability and the importance of respecting our not so cute-and-cuddle organisms. Pictured here is the crown jewel of my collection, U’ani, a thirteen foot Papuan python (Liasis papuana).


       Since I can remember, I've metaphorically compared life’s journey to a well-executed theatrical production. The mutually-sound intersection of our life’s purpose and passion is our sacred arena—the stage.  And with each costume change, wardrobe malfunction, plot-shit, and intermission, we begin a new “act” in the screen play. But with any dynamicism, criticisms and hardships will ensue. If we’re willing, we can grow just as much, if not more, from our awkward silences as we can from our deafening applauses.

Stay true to yourself. Keep grounded. And in the end, we’ll all have our well-deserved standing ovation.

Grab a ticket to my show; I’m currently waiving the admission fee.



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