Support our Earth Day Activities

Support Earth Day Activities with the Art of Conservation (AoC)!

Imagine giving children a chance to experience the world in a new way while learning to care for the beautiful land and water around them. The Art of Conservation is doing just that. Leading up to Earth Day, 22 April 2017, we are teaching underserved Mayan children to respect the environment by reducing and recycling waste. Our kids are collecting trash and making musical instruments and art from these discarded items. They love it, and they are gaining the knowledge and skills they need to become better stewards of their natural resources. At other times during the year Art of Conservation also teaches young people and their families about personal health and sharing the Earth with other living things. 

KatiaEarthDay-2017.jpgStudents at Primary School Lazaro Cárdenas start a recycling program after our field trip to Tulum's recycling center.

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Join me, Meredith Adler, my fellow board members, and Julie Ghrist, our Founder, by providing a financial gift to Art of Conservation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Your gift is tax deductible to the extent the law allows. 

TemoEarthDay-2017.jpgOur partners, Temo of Tulum Municipality and Heather of No Mas Plastik teach kids how to separate their trash.  

We need your help to continue our efforts – to reach more children and have a lasting influence on their lives.


Please consider a financial gift to the Art of Conservation. 

BoysEarthDay-2017.jpgChildren in Chunyaxché protect their school by adding a sign that says, "Take care of the environment! Do not litter."

MicheleEarthDay-2017.jpgMichele Marsh, our Vice President, joins our students on a field trip to the jungle. 

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We look forward to a year filled with conservation education, creativity, and fun! On behalf of myself and my fellow Art of Conservation Board members, we thank you so much in advance for your kind support,

Meredith Adler

Julie Ghrist: President
Michele Marsh: Vice President
Nigel Gillah: Treasurer
Amber Kiwan: Secretary
Hawthorne Flaherty
Dani Pere
Meredith Adler

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Dear Katia, 

Please join the Art of Conservation (AoC) team and me today - 29 November 2016 - in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving. We are committed to empowering children, families, and local communities to become conservation leaders.

Your generous donation can help fund:

  • Tuition to AoC's Creative Learning & Conservation Education Programming
  • Reusable Shopping Bags
  • Tree Planting & Beach Clean-ups
  • Animal Habitat Research Projects
  • Discovery Dives & Water Monitoring Field Trips
  • Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve Retreats
  • Classroom, Art, & Science Supplies
  • Graduation Ceremonies & Student Art Exhibits
  • and so much more!

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Gladys painting the endangered spider monkey.


Please join us on #GivingTuesday at Pura Corazón (Km 5.5 carratera Punta Allen) in Tulum. Owners Ixmana and Guillaume are highlighting this day with their new chef. You'll enjoy a welcome cocktail, a 4-course dinner, and music by Gabriel Palatchi. This special evening costs only 490 Mexican pesos with a percentage going to Art of Conservation. If you have any questions, please contact We hope to see you!

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Your generous donation at any level will mean that you’ve helped more children, families, and local communities surrounding the beautiful Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, gain important conservation knowledge by participating in AoC programs.

Thank you very much,
Julie Ghrist
Founder & Executive Director

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On Tuesday, 29 November 2016, Art of Conservation (AoC) is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving, and we would like you to join this special call to action that AoC is calling #GivingToMayanChildrenDay.

A few of our former students have this to share about their Art of Conservation experience.

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We are nearly to our goal for the 2017 winter session so please give now and help to empower 30 new conservation leaders.


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Please make a gift today so more children like Laura, Karolina, Geyler, and Miguel can participate in AoC’s innovative art and education program!

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Your generous donation at any level will mean that you’ve helped more children, families, and local communities surrounding the beautiful Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, gain important conservation knowledge by participating in AoC programs.

On behalf of the entire Art of Conservation team, I would like to thank you for your kind support!

Love & appreciation,
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Julie Ghrist
Founder & Executive Director

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El martes 29 de Noviembre de 2016, Art of Conservation (AoC) estará participando en #GivingTuesday/#UnDíaParaDar, el día global dedicado a la donación. Nosotros quisiéramos que se nos unieran en esta occasion a lo que en AoC llamamos #GivingToMayanChildrenDay.

Algunos de nuestros graduados nos han dado su opinion sobre su experiencia con AoC: 

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En estos momentos estamos buscando fondos para trabajar en el segundo semestre de 2017, por favor ayúdanos a empoderar a 30 nuevos líderes de la conservación!
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Por favor haz un regalo hoy para que niños como Laura, Karolina, Geyler y Miguel puedan participar de nuestro innovador y educativo programa! 

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Tu generosa donación significa que has apoyado a niños, familias y comunidades locales alrededor de la Reserva de la Biósfera de Sian Ka’an, un sitio de patrimonio de la humanidad de la UNESCO, a aprender sobre conservación participando con AoC.  

De parte de todo el equipo de Art of Conservation, quisiera agradecer su amable apoyo! 

Con amor y aprecio, 
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Julie Ghrist
Founder & Executive Director

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On Tuesday, 29 November 2016, Art of Conservation (AoC) is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving, and we would like you to join this special call to action that AoC is calling #GivingToMayanChildrenDay.

A few of our former students have this to share about their Art of Conservation experience.

laura is from a village called Chunyaxche.jpg

miguel wants to be a doctor.jpg

We are nearly to our goal for the 2017 winter session so please give now and help empower 30 new conservation leaders.

Thank you! donate today.jpg
Please click here to donate.

karolina-is an AoC graduate.jpg

AoC graduate Geyler.jpg

Please make a gift today so more children like Laura, Miguel, Karolina, and Geyler can participate in AoC's innovative art and education program!

Your generous donation at any level will mean that you’ve helped more children, families, and local communities surrounding the beautiful Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, gain important conservation knowledge by participating in AoC programs.

Support AoC.jpg
Please click here to donate.

On behalf of the entire Art of Conservation team, I would like to thank you for your kind support!

Love and appreciation, 
Julie Ghrist
Founder & Executive Director

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Striving to Stay Healthy in Chumpón

The Art of Conservation (AoC) team and I leave our office on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and travel 60 kilometers south of Tulum to a beautiful Maya village called Chumpón. In this pueblo, with its enormous Ceiba tree in the middle, approximately 750 people reside. 

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Our students gather around the enormous Ceiba tree (Ceiba pentandra) which is the most sacred tree to the Maya as a wild medicinal plant and as an energy connection with the Cosmos, Earth, and the Underworld.

Serious health threats face the community of Chumpón. Statistics show that the average income of our partnering families does not cover basic health, education, food, housing, clothing, and public transportation needs. AoC appreciates the opportunity to try to break some of these devastating trends through our Creative Learning & Conservation Education programs. We strongly believe that starting early - our students are on average 10-years of age - is a path to preventing some of these challenges and ultimately attaining a better future.

We begin our program by leaning more about our daily personal hygiene habits and why they are essential to staying healthy - we've all been there; parents reminding us to cover our mouth when we cough or sneeze, wash our hands, wash our bodies, brush our teeth, clean up our room, pick up the trash, eat a healthy diet, and get regular exercise!

But the fact remains that Chumpón families are sick many days out of the month. Additionally, families may not be able to afford a visit to the doctor, hence the importance of AoC's proactive approach to preventing common illnesses by practicing good hygiene. Please see below a snapshot of some of our 'staying healthy' lessons.

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Learning how to wash our hands.

The CDC states about 1.8 million children die before the age of 5 every year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 of those with diarrhea sickness and 1 out of 5 with respiratory infections like pneumonia. 

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Learning how to brush our teeth and keeping away infections.

We provide supplies which are not readily available to our students, such as soap, toothbrush and paste.
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Javier, our teacher-in-training at Escuela Primaria Jacinto Pat, with the children who are prepared to pick up trash in the schoolyard.

Filthy and dirty places are a breeding ground for mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Dog Heartworm, Dengue, Yellow fever, and Zika Virus, to name a few. We teach the children the importance of keeping a clean home and removing reservoirs of stagnant water. Simply removing the stagnant water will relieve the chance of mosquito-born viruses.

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Learning about different food groups and the importance of eating a variety of food every day.

One of the leading health issues in the Mexican youth today is obesity and diabetes. It is extremely important that our students understand the importance of a healthy diet by eating a variety of foods every day.

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AoC incorporates getting regular exercise in our daily hygiene habits which will not only help our physical fitness but our complete well-being.

As you can see, the Art of Conservation team is a very caring team. We do all that we can to effectively teach the children and to bring about change in our participants’ attitudes and behaviors so that we achieve a healthier community.

Please support our efforts. Coming up, Giving Tuesday, November 2016. Please keep us in mind.

All my best, 
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Julie Ghrist
Founder, Executive Director

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Thank You Supporters & Volunteers

The Caribbean's Mesoamerica Reef Region is hot and steamy this time of year, and wet! School is out so our students are on vacation before classes resume in September. During their holiday, some children stay with their families in or near the town of Tulum while others will travel to visit relatives in different parts of Mexico's big and diverse landscape.

For the AoC team and me, it is the perfect time to catch up on office work and prepare for the year ahead. We look forward to providing AoC's free One-Health Awareness and Creative Learning courses to children and their families here in what is known as the Maya zone. 

Most importantly the team and I would like to take this time to send our sincere gratitude for all that you do for AoC. Thank you for

  • Encouraging us with your 'likes' and comments on our social media sites which truly make us smile and give us that extra confidence to keep pushing forward with what we love to do.
  • Volunteering your time and talent with Art of Conservation both on the ground and from afar.
  • Supporting AoC's efforts in Rwanda, Africa and helping our partner organization Conservation Heritage - Turambe (CHT).
  • Making financial donations which generate the funds we need to continue our multidisciplinary work.

Thank you again to each and every one of you!

A video to brighten your day.
This footage captures happiness, engagement, and learning that all children deserve.
AoC's Annual Graduate Retreat at the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve and Casa Maya Kaan, July 2016.

Our most recent fundraising event was graciously hosted on the beach by Cesar of La Eufemia - they also serve delicious tacos! The sales of Cesar's tasty mango margaritas went directly to Art of Conservation. Cheers!

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On behalf of the entire AoC and CHT teams, I would like to say THANK YOU again... and again... and again to you- our friends and supporters. May we stay together for a long time to come.

With love and appreciation,
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Julie Ghrist

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Wildlife Trading & Conservation

Hawksbill Sea Turtles are Critically Endangered which means they are at an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. At Art of Conservation we want the choices we make on a daily basis to be more sensitive of the environment, more compassionate toward animals, and more integrated with nature, and that these choices have a positive ripple effect throughout the world. 

It gives the AoC team and me great pleasure to join 31 other artists participating in a gallery show opening today, 14 July 2016, at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the United States. The exhibition is called Wildlife: Trading & Conservation and is co-sponsored by RISD, Creature Conservation, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The goal of this exhibition is to examine the role of global wildlife trade in driving dozens of species to extinctions, while harming human lives and livelihoods; and to empower the viewing public to take part in conservation.

Studying Sea Turtles-
During AoC's Creative Learning and One-Health Awareness program with children in Tulum, México, we invited Biologist Roció Peralta, Supervisor of Tulum Marine Turtles Program and took a field trip to nesting sites along the beaches.

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Pictured second from the right, Biologist Roció Peralta, Supervisor of Tulum Marine Turtles Program, visited our classrooms to share her expert knowledge on sea turtles.


Our students listened to Biologist Emanuel Paz during a field trip to X'cacel, - X'Cacelito Reserva Estatal Santuario de la Tortuga Marina.

Creating Sea Turtles-
After learning about the natural history and conservation status of the Hawksbill and other sea turtles, our students explored more through creativity by dancing and painting.


Watercolors Pluma_painting.jpgAoC artist, Pluma, guides the children with watercolor paintings of turtles.

Dana animal dance.jpgGuest dancer and choreographer, Dana Arabel, works with the children on a performance for our openhouse. The dance celebrates nature and animals, including, of course, the sea turtle!

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AoC artists Pato and Pluma with the final mixed media canvas ready for shipment to RISD. 

The canvas that Pato and Pluma created includes a mosaic of the children's watercolors glued to the canvas to form the arms and hands which depict the human presence as part of the destruction and preservation of this turtle species. We hope the viewer will better understand the challenges facing the turtles and alternately learn how to protect the species by changing their everyday behavior. 

Thank you RISD, Creature Conserve and IFAW for organizing this important show and providing a space for AoC to display work. We appreciate the opportunity and hope the show is a success. Best of luck to the other artists too. Most importantly, let's work together to protect the Critically Endangered animals represented in this show from going extinct. Please support our work at Art of Conservation.


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For more information, please write to me at or go to our Facebook page. Thank you.

With love and appreciation,
Julie Ghrist

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FELICIDADES to Our New Graduates

Look out! Fresh, new and energetic Art of Conservation (AoC) ambassadors are hitting the streets of Tulum, Mexico. Our most recent group of AoC Creative Learning & One-Health Awareness students, 10 and 11-year-olds, have learned how their health relates to the health of the environment and animals and now they are making better choices and have encouraged their families to do so too.

Mira! Los nuevos, frescos y energetizados embajadores de Art of Conservation (AoC) ya están en las calles de Tulum, México. Nuestro más reciente grupo de estudiantes del programa de Aprendizaje creativo y Conciencia de la Salud Integral de AoC, tienen entre 10 y 11 años de edad, han aprendido cómo su salud se relaciona con el medio ambiente, los animales y quieren tomar mejores decisiones y apoyar a sus familias a hacerlo también.  

Here are a few quotes from our graduates. Aquí les mostramos algunas frases de nuestro graduados: 

"Ha cambiado mi visión de mi futura. Mu gustaría la planeta y cuidar las plantas y el agua."

"AoC has changed my perception of my future. I love our planet and care for plants and water."
Cameron, Primary School Ford No. 198.

"Me gustaría proteger la naturaleza sin contaminarla. Ayudar a los animals. Mu gustaría trabajar en la conservación de la naturaleza. Quiero ser veterinario. Para cuidar a los animales."

"I want to protect nature by not polluting. I want to help animals. I want to work in environmental conservation. I want to be a veterinarian and take care of animals."
            Feliz, Primary School Lazaro Cardenás in the village of Chunyaxché.

"Me sentio mas creativo."
"I feel more creative."

          Edwar, Primary School Ford No. 198.

Please enjoy our Open House celebration video. Disfruten nuestro video de la celebración de la Clase Abierta: 

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Many friends and colleagues visited our classroom this past semester. Thank you-

Muchos amigos y colegas visitaron nuestro salon de clase este pasado semestre. Gracias-

Sara and Silvia Ghrist, Dr. Juan, Carrie Haley, Sheba, Cedric Callebaut, Rene Gonzales, Lieke Bos, Colleen Schaffner, Filippo Aureli, Calypso Divers, Eric Losh, Meghan Ryan, Emanuel Paz, Biol. Rocío Peralta, Cheryl Stockton, Dana Arabel, Musicians Tanya and Rene, Julieta Gesumaria, Eli Scheier, Anna Fishkin, Gwen Grosset, Pamela Macko, Erica Ramos, and the family of Anaïs.

Thank you for inspiring our students. Gracias por inspirar a nuestros estudiantes. 

Our programming is not possible without the generous support from people like you. Thank you very much for your continued interest.

Nuestro programa no es possible sin la generosa ayuda de gente como tu. Muchas gracias por tu interés a lo largo de este tiempo. 

Coming up on July 11 and 12 is our 2nd Annual AoC Graduate Overnight Retreat at the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. We will share more soon.

Próximamente – 11 y 12 de Julio tendremos nuestro Retiro de graduados de AoC en la Reserva de la Biósfera de Sian Ka’an. Les compartiremos más sobre ello pronto. 

With kind regards,
Con mucho cariño, 

Julie Ghrist 

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Celebrating World Water Day

Happy World Water Day! 

Discovering our Blue Planet and learning more about water, one of Earth's most precious resources, takes up a big portion of Art of Conservation's Creative Learning & One-Health Awareness program.

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Students explore our Blue Planet at Primaria Escuela Ford No. 198 in Tulum, México.

Our students now recognize the large land masses, the continents, and are becoming more familiar with the oceans. A mere two kilometers away from where we are in the classroom is the Caribbean Sea (site of one of the largest coral reefs in the world) and a little further north, the Gulf of México.

Here in the Yucatán Peninsula, which is a vast limestone platform, we stand upon one of the most extensive karst aquifer systems in the world. The Maya who inhabited the region during the Post-Classic Period (A.D. 900-1500) to the present revere the cenotes, or sinkholes, which are the openings to the vast underground freshwater system as entrances to Xibalba, the underworld. There are over 8,000 cenotes on the peninsula. 

Water is everywhere! But how often do our students explore the water?
Continuing reading here and support Art of Conservation's unique experiential learning!

Water Guardians, or Guardianes del Agua in Spanish, is an Art of Conservation section of programming in which the kids and our AoC team take field trips to local water sources- cenotes and a lagoon in this case to conduct hands-on water monitoring. Students record the temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphate, total coliforms, and turbidity.

Please enjoy our video from a recent water testing day at Cenote Crystal.

Water Guardians - Guardianes del Agua, a short AoC video

With every group of children we work with, we take another field trip about twenty miles north of Tulum to Solimán Bay. The bay is calm and protected which is perfect to introduce the kids to the wonderful world of scuba diving. Our dive experts fit the children with dive suits, masks, flippers, and carefully bring them to the water and teach them how to breathe through a regulator while submerged in the warm ocean waters. (Thank you Calypso Divers for the use of dive equipment!)

Discovery Dive-2016.jpgManuel helps two young boys experience breathing through a regulator for their first time. AoC's Discovery Dive at Solimán Bay.

At Art of Conservation we like to spread messages and inspire others to take action to protect our oceans. Team member Esteban Pliego created this short animation.

Please enjoy and share with your friends!

Oceans Without Plastic, an AoC animation

Back at school, art projects are incredibly fun for us all. We make papier mache sea creatures which will be on view at our open houses and at upcoming science fairs.

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After constructing a sea turtle with wire and covering it with newspaper, children enjoy painting.

There are countless reasons why we need to protect our water sources. Let us not squander away what matters most to our quality of living, to our existence. Will you join Art of Conservation today? We are dedicated to making real change.

Thank you for letting us share our work with you. We love what we do. Please join us. We know you care too. Click on the DONATE button to make your tax-deductible donation. Our USA regional headquarters address is: Art of Conservation, 2118 High Street, Des Moines, IA 50312

With love and appreciation,

Julie Ghrist

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