Class of 2014 - Thanks to Your Invaluable Support

I have splendid cause for celebration! A few days ago we completed our first four-month afterschool program in México and the kids and I are reveling in happiness. I would like to highlight the class work of two students to illustrate what Art of Conservation’s Creative Learning and One-Health Awareness programming is all about.

Our first student, Quijano Canche 'Irene' Alejandra emerged as a natural class leader. She demonstrated her commitment by attending every session and practicing AoC Core Values in her every day activities--CREATIVITY was her favorite! 



Irene, pictured at right, explores the Caribbean Ocean with classmates during an Art of Conservation after school program beach clean-up and scuba diving field trip to Soliman Bay. 

Irene excelled in drawing and painting exercises. Following our group discussion about the natural history of the endangered jaguar, she learned that this beautiful animal — which holds so much significance in Maya culture — needs its own special habitat to survive. It all starts in our own back yard, or the jungle, in Irene’s case. It takes teamwork among many to preserve the jaguar’s habitat.


Irene’s watercolor of a jaguar with focus on shape and texture created during one of Art of Conservation’s class exercises.

Our second student, Poot Arellano 'Allan' also had perfect attendance. At our first class meeting, he seemed a shy, quiet boy. Since then, he has emerged as a confident, eager student with an infectious laugh! Manuel, my amazing co-worker, and I were so pleased to watch him blossom during class sessions.


Allan, with his sister, at our recent Parents-as-Partners Open House standing next to a papier maché jaguar they helped make.

By using a different color for each body part to facilitate the understanding of locomotion and dynamics, Allan created a spider monkey with a baby on its back using watercolor, oil pastels, and markers.

A central part of our curriculum relies on the generous donation of time and effort by local individuals working in various areas of one-health conservation.  By sharing their expertise with AoC students in the classroom, these volunteers enrich our programming and connect our students to what is happening in the greater community. Our students benefit by gaining a better understanding of the world around them. 

  • Local Drs. Filippo Aureli and Colleen Schaffner talked about studying wild spider monkeys;
  • Diver Anais guided the children on their first view under water with scuba diving equipment;
  • Razonatura's Olmo Torres Talamante conducted water monitoring with the kids at a nearby cenote;
  • Dr. Juan Erazo brought in his dog Juanito and talked about proper veterinarian care for our pets;
  • IFAW's Joachin talked about empathy towards animals;
  • Hawthorne Flaherty talked about the Maya tradition of building and sustainable development, and
  • Visiting artist Brian Corin demonstrated a variety of art techniques the children were then able to use in their class work.

We’re ready to continue working hard for our kids in the year ahead. The winter program has 23 children already enrolled, and we are planning to serve even more children in our summer and fall programs. 

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please consider a financial gift to Art of Conservation. All donations are tax deductible and directly benefit the children we work with. Any amount is greatly appreciated. 


A donation of $500 will provide the opportunity for one child to participate in our four-month, 28-session program. 

As a token of our appreciation, each of you who contributes $500 or more will receive a 2015 Primate Connections calendar, which includes a photo I took in Rwanda during one of my last visits to the magnificent mountain gorillas.

Thank you so much for your support. We look forward to a new year filled with conservation education, creativity and fun!



Julie Ghrist and the AoC Team

Feel free to contact us for more information at


Image Map