Eco-Ecuador Bioregional Education Index

A brief overview/timeline of the Ecuador Bioregional Educational Programs (BEP) with links to the reports. They are listed from earliest to most recent. (The Bioregional Sustainability Institute, Study Abroad & University Programs for older students, are included at the bottom.)

Note: from 2004 to 2011 there are both Dry Tropical Forest Revegetation Reports and Bioregional Education Reports; often the two projects overlapped. For example the children’s educational classes included hands-on work in the greenhouse, and when the revegetation project distributed saplings to local adults, they also provided educational information on how to ensure the livelihood of the trees. The revegetation and educational reports are available separately and also combined by year. (For a complete compilation of all Eco-Ecuador Project activities by year, see the Eco-Ecuador Project Page.)

This index is specifically geared toward educational reports. The educational program evolved over the years. Some years students were allowed to travel to the greenhouse and some years Planet Drum did workshops in the schools. In 2007 children began visiting the greenhouse (that report is linked here), and by 2012 the Planet Drum’s two projects had merged, so educational activities after that date are included in the Dry Tropical Forest Field Manager’s reports.

The early educational outreach was done by volunteers who had come to participate in Planet Drums revegetation activities so their reports (2002-2006) are included both here and in the Dry Tropical Revegetation Project Index. When Ramon Cedeño Loor became the Bioregional Educational Project (BEP) Manager (November 2006-2011), he developed after-school classes with local teachers and volunteers expanding the Project and producing Bioregional Education Reports. (The classes greatly influenced the various schools in Bahia, especially the science classes,  where they were held —Genesis School, Fanny de Baird School, and Juan Pio Montufar School.)

From 2012-2021, educational regulations in Ecuador changed and Planet Drum’s BEP Program merged with the Revegetation Project. The Revegetation Project Reports for these years include educational work and it can be found by searching this website for ‘Bioregional Education’.

Also in 2012, the Bioregional Sustainability Institute hosted the first Summer Study Abroad Program with students from the University of Oregon, USA titled “Building Bioregional Communities.” Two more study abroad programs were held during 2017 and 2018.

In 2019 Clay, The Manager of the Revegetation Project was invited to teach a class at the Catholic University, where the Planet Drum Greenhouse is located. Links to his syllabus and descriptions of that class are included on this page. More classes were planned but were cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

Links to the educational reports are below. Dates/Reports are from earliest to most recent.

Bioregional Education Project (BEP)

It became clear from the first visits, in 1999, to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador that education should be an essential component to our work there. Although some work with the local youth was done earlier, our first volunteer dedicated to establishing some bioregional education classes was Kristin Ford in 2002.

Kristin Ford 2002: Her reports describe her time in Ecuador from October through early November 2002 with the Revegetation Project. They include her forays finding schools to work with and experiences learning from her “students.” Her amazing Escuela Rotaria Story is the first time Planet Drum worked with a teacher in a specific school in Bahia.

Peter Berg and Elise Braaten 2004: They collaborated on a neighborhood oriented educational curriculum, ECO-CIUDAD COMMUNITY BIOREGIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAM, to develop and carry out a bioregional education program for children and adults. It became the outline for Planet Drum Foundation’s educational after-school programs in Bahia de Caraquez. This letter outlines their hopes for implementing it.

Kristen Lansdale 2005: Came to Bahia in April to head the new Bioregional Education Program. She stayed six months and wrote 15 Reports. The final report, October 2, 2005, is an overview of the Bioregional Education Project and her thoughts about it. All her reports are listed here. (They are also included in the Dry Tropical Revegetation Project Index.) Direct links to Kristin’s individual reports are:

  • April 29 : Bahia welcomes the prospect of bioregional education.
  • May 5 : We had a grand turnout of fifty-five people. 
  • May 13 : Course introduction: our direct relationship with nature.
  • May 19 : Lichens, orchids, the mighty Ceibos and spiders hanging from their webs.
  • May 27 : To put the Humid Tropical Forest into context.
  • June 2 : A treasure to discover the beauty and joy of their bioregion alongside them.
  • June 9 : Dry tropical, very dry tropical, humid tropical and mangrove. 
  • June 25 : Students made their own bioregional maps. 
  • June 30 : Going to Isla de Corazon to see many birds & mangroves.
  • July 9 : Did some pelican observation after the discourse.
  • July 21 : Students are preparing to go and talk at schools.
  • July 29 : Fanca eco kids club make recycled paper.
  • August 4 : Properties of the estuary and the contamination there.
  • August 11 : The gas station leak.
  • October 2 : Ecuador Project Final report, Kristen Lansdale

Valentina Caminati and Ramon Cedeno Loor 2006: During June, July and August Valentina Caminati held Bioregional Education classes with local high schoolers.  In September 2006 Valentina  returned to her home in  Italy. All eight reports by Valentina are here. (They are also included in the Dry Tropical Revegetation Project Index.) Direct links to her individual reports are:

  • June 12 : Preparing a summer course in bioregionalism for teens.
  • June 19 : Bioregional Education course started for seven kids.
  • June 26 : Bioregional class identifying native species in the Dry Tropical Forest.
  • July 10 : Bioregional classes field trips and student increase.
  • July 17 : Students in the Bioregional classes more than doubled.
  • July 26 : Bioregional class perceives the estuary on field trip.
  • August 10 : Bioregional Class: art projects and mapping projects.
  • August 16 : Bioregional Course’s last day.

Ramon Cedeño Loor became the new Bioregional Education Manager after Valentina left. Ramon is a teacher who has been volunteering with Planet Drum for several months. He  lives in  the Maria Auxiliadora neighborhood. Ramon continued Valentina’s classes in 2006 and concluded the final three classes of introductory series in early 2007. Direct links to Ramon’s bioregional education reports are at:

Ramon Cedeño Loor 2007: Ramon reorganized the classes and in May 2007 he began a new series of Introductory classes. In October he initiated an Advanced class. (Click here for a general overview of the format of the Bioregional Education Classes.) During 2007 Ramon sent 21 reports—three for the final 2006 Introductory series classes (see above), ten for the new Introductory classes, July – September, and eight for the Advanced Bioregional Education classes, October – November. (The school year in Ecuador runs from May/June until September, and then again from October until January. From late January to late May there are no classes.) Ramon’s 2007 Weekly Reports are below:

Introductory Bioregional Education Classes, July – September

Advanced Bioregional Education Classes, October – November

Along with the bioregional Education classes, Clay Plager-Unger, the Manager of the Dry Tropical Forest Revegetation Project contacted an elementary school and arranged for students to have both an educational and volunteer visit the greenhouse. An excerpt from Clay’s July 9-13, 2007 report notes the beginning of this aspect of bioregional education in Bahia:

“In the afternoon I wrote a letter, which was well received, to the director of the Javier Rodríguez Mieles School, where Ramon (our Bioregional Education teacher) also teaches. The letter asks permission to take groups of students out to work with us, show them the reforestation process and also have them help out in the greenhouse. So now, every week or so we will be taking a group of students out to volunteer during the day, in addition to the afternoon Bioregional Education classes. It will be great to give the students more environmental exposure as part of their education.”

During 2007 both students from Ramon’s bioregional classes and students from schools visited the greenhouse.

Ramon Cedeño Loor 2008: Ramon Cedeño Loor has been developing  Bioregional Education after-school classes since 2006. He teaches at a junior high school and volunteered with Planet Drum’s Bioregional Education Program for several months before becoming its Manager. In 2007 Ramon began a revamped series of Classes including an advanced class.  The 2008 the Bioregional Education Class ran from April 30 to July 26 with a revised Bioregionalismo text book and several of the 2007 advanced class students as volunteer assistants. Ramon sent 12 Weekly Reports. (The school year in Ecuador runs from May until September, and then again from October until January. There are usually no regular classes from late January to May.) (Click here for a general overview of the format of the Bioregional Education Classes.)

Additionally Fred Alvarado, a muralist from San Francisco, arrived in January to revise a mural on the wall of a school. He sent a report in early January and completed the mural later in the month working with the students.

2008 Bioregional Classes April -July

During 2009, The Bioregional Education Project in Bahia received a grant from Children of Ecuador and was able expand to three concurrent school classes with three teachers—Ramon Cedeño Loor, Fabiola Coello, and Paola Divito— each with a student assistant. The classes ran from May to August and most reports are in both English and Spanish. Of the nine reports, four were written by Ramon, four by Paola and one by Devita. The descriptions of the classes include the flavor of the classes and the difficulties and delights they engendered. (Click here for a general overview of the format of the Bioregional Education Classes.)

  • May 8, 2009 : Introduction to the Bioregion – Ramon
  • May 12, 2009 : Environmental Projects & Bioregional Objectives – Fabiola
  • May 22, 2009 : Excitement Sharing Information/Stories & View from the Lookout – Paola
  • May 29, 2009 : Steps to Protect Our Bioregion – Ramon
  • June 12, 2009 : Beaches & The Ocean Interacting with Humans – Paola
  • June 26, 2009 : Games, Land Ecosystems, Hiking & Ecological Reserve – Ramon
  • July 3, 2009 : Dry Tropical Flora, Native Trees & Watering Them – Ramon
  • July 20, 2009 : The Watershed & Adventures in the Mud – Paola
  • August 3, 2009 : Producing Bioregional Presentations for an Open House at School – Paola

Due to high interest in the program, in 2010 the classes have been expanded from 15 to 20 students. This year there are three teachers: Ramon Cedeño, the Director, and two new teachers, as well as three class assistants (15-17 year old former students who have remained with the program). The two new teachers are Nadine Flexhaug and Margarita Plager-Unger. Each teacher and class assistant pair will have a group of students for the duration of the program. At the beginning of this year Clay and Ramon collaborated and produced a general overview of the format of the Bioregional Education Classes.

In his Dry Tropical Forest Revegetation reports, Clay describes students from Nadine’s class visiting the greenhouse in Sept/October. And another visit the next month. Near the end of the year he describes Peter Berg visiting the Bioregional Education classes.

There were three classes in 2011. They began in May and the teachers were: Ramon Cedeño, the BEP director; Margarita Avila Napa, a professor from last year; and a new professor, David Mera Villareal, a natural sciences teacher from Fanny de Baird high school. The three new class assistants were Noemi and Luis, two students from last year and and an assistant teacher from Genesis school. This year the schools participating were the girls school Juan Pio Montúfar, Genesis high school, and the national high school Fanny de Baird, with whom we worked previous years.

The classes continued by having students make field trips to the greenhouse for bioregional information and hands on classes. When the Ecuadorian government would no longer allow field trips for students, classes continued at the schools making raised beds and gardens and continuing discussions about native trees and how to grow them. The reports from these workshops at the schools are included with the Field Manager’s reports from 2012-2021 and can be found by searching this website for the category “Bioregional Education.”


The Ecuador Bioregional Sustainability Institute (BSI), Study-Abroad and University Programs

  •  A School to Retrieve the Future is an essay written by Peter Berg in 2010 describing the newly initiated Bioregional Institute in Bahia de Caraquez, the vision behind the Institute, and its curriculum.
  • A call for students to attend the BSI includes practical hands-on approaches to sustainability, the core curriculum, and areas of study. Molly Thomas graduated as the first student to complete a three month BSI course in 2011.

Planet Drum also developed a study-abroad program available to college students and their teachers. Courses could be tailored to the needs and schedules of the educational institution and its students. Programs could range in length from 3 to 12 weeks. Click here for a flyer describing the program. 

  • 2012 was the first year the study-abroad program was implemented. A group of fourteen University of Oregon (UO) students traveled to Bahía de Caráquez on a three week, study-abroad program titled “Building Bioregional Communities.” The program combined multiple aspects of PD’s ecological restoration work from revegetation, sustainable land use, and bioregional education, to community outreach and ancient-culture practices. It marked the first time that students received university course credit for participating with Planet Drum.
  • In 2017 “Sustainable Development in Latin America.” The study abroad course was a collaboration between the University of Oregon, USA and Planet Drum Foundation’s Ecuador Program
  • In 2018  Planet Drum hosted the third study abroad program with the University of Oregon. The course is called Sustainable Development in Latin America and covers the tensions, challenges, and possibilities for reconciling development and conservation in the dry tropical forest zone, a critically important and globally imperiled ecosystem.

In September 2019 the Eco-Ecuador Project began collaborating with the Catholic University on a new college level course at their campus where the Planet Drum greenhouse is located. The course introduced university students to bioregional concepts and principles and included a hands-on component at the greenhouse with dry tropical revegetation practices. It met Wednesdays for eight weeks.