Meet AEP’s Newest Collaborators!

AEP´s new collaborators: Ashley Stonecipher, Sarah Graves, Lesly Oderay Candelaria, Hannah Metzel, Sabina Roan, and Victor Tran (from top left to bottom right), c. photo subjects

The Azuero Earth Project welcomes several new collaborators to the office in PedasĂ­ who will be conducting research and projects related to environmental conservation and sustainable development. They are eager to meet the PedasĂ­ community and to explore the Azuero Peninsula through their projects!

Ashley Stonecipher, PedasĂ­ School Gardens Consultant, Peace Corps

Ashley is working with the Pedasí school, Instituto Plinio A. Moscoso, to develop an organic garden with the school´s students and faculty. Ashley comes to AEP having recently completed 2 ½ years in Peace Corps Paraguay working on sustainable agriculture with local farmers and women and teaching about the importance of organic gardening. Ashley received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Horticulture with a specialization in Public Garden Management and a MS in Business Management and a MA in International Business at the University of Florida.

Sarah Graves, University of Florida Field Research Team

Sarah is conducting research to quantify the species diversity and carbon content of the dispersed trees throughout cattle pastures using high-resolution hyper-spectral aerial imagery and LiDAR data. Sarah is earning her Master of Science in Forest Resources and Conservation at UF, advised by Dr. Stephanie Bohlman. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Environmental Science. Sarah then attended the University of Wisconsin to earn a professional certificate in geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing.

Lesly Oderay Candelaria, University of Florida Field Research Team

As a part of her professional internship through the University of Panama in Penonomé, Lesly forms part of the University of Florida field investigation team that seeks to quantify the species diversity and carbon content of the dispersed trees throughout cattle pastures using high-resolution hyper-spectral aerial imagery and LiDAR data. Lesly is in the fourth year of her undergraduate degree in Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Panama in Penonomé.

Hannah Metzel, Environmental Education Intern

Hannah is collaborating with AEP to develop the curriculum for the Pro-Eco Pela´os program. She is double majoring in Environmental Studies and Government at Connecticut College. Through volunteering at the West Hill Park in her hometown and taking several courses in Environmental Science, she has developed an interest in the transformation from fossil fuels to renewable resources. After Connecticut College Hannah plans to attend law school and pursue a career in Environmental Law.

Sabina Roan, GIS Mapping Intern

Sabina is focusing on adding to and updating AEP´s GIS database, as well as participating in AEP´s recycling and the Pro-Eco Pela´os programs and the local turtle monitoring group. Sabina just completed a bachelor degree in Geography with a concentration in Urban Systems at McGill University in Montréal, Canada. Her minors were in Geographic Information Systems and Environment.

Victor Tran, Organiculture Intern

Victor is collaborating with AEP´s Organiculture program to research natural pest management systems and to help out in the experimental organic garden. Victor is visiting from the AEP from Montreal, QC in Canada where he studies Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at McGill University. He comes as a first time traveller to Panama. While not spending time in the gardens, he hopes to learn more about the Panamanian lifestyle by interacting with people in the community, and visiting local farmers in the region.

To learn about about these new collaborators, visit the Collaborators page.

SIT Student Researcher Surveys Peninsula Farmers about Agricultural Practices

Alexandra Guest on Volcán Baru, c. Julia Brokaw

The Azuero Earth Project welcomed a new student researcher, Alexandra Guest, to Pedasí on April 15. For the last month of her university semester abroad Alexandra is conducting an independent study project (ISP) in collaboration with the Azuero Earth Project. She is partnering with AEP´s Organiculture Program to investigate the state of agriculture on the Azuero Peninsula through surveys with local producers on their current practices. This research will inform land owner thoughts and opinions, as well as the policies that exist to protect the native tropical dry forest.

Alexandra is a college junior at Skidmore College studying Environmental Science, focusing on animal physiology and climate change impacts on animal adaptation. Alexandra is currently part of a study abroad program in Panama called ¨Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems and Biodiversity Conservation¨ with the School for International Training (SIT).

Written by Sophie M. Fuchs

Meet Visiting Research Students from McGill!

c. Elana Evans

This January-April, AEP welcomes Elana Evans and Iké Green-Nault, two undergraduate students from McGill University in Montreal, Canada who will be interning with Pedasí’s Turtle Conservation Group. 

Elana Evans: Elana is a senior studying Environmental sciences Originally from Toronto, she has also lived in Calgary, Montreal and Italy. Her favourite pastimes are going on canoe trips, checking out live music and taking photos. She is very excited to be in Pedasi and working with the Turtle group!

Iké Green-Nault: Iké is currently studying Environmental Science. A passion for biology and conservation issues, combined with an equal passion for the summer, for Latin America and for the Spanish language made Panama a prize destination. He is here to study and to assist Pedasí’s marine turtle conservation initiative.

c. Ike Green-Nault

Pedasi Recycles!

c. Guillermo Duran

At 3pm on Friday, November 16 2012 at Azuero Earth Project, interns Pedro and Enita Cerrud  organized a “Painting and Movie Night”, attended by 42 people, including students from Pedasi High School, Instituto Plinio A. Moscoso y members of the community. The youth painted recycling bins, resulting in a lottery in which participants won t-shirts and maps of the Project.

In recognition of all their help, Pedro and Enita offered participants a free meal of lasagna and garlic bread with refreshed that everyone enjoyed!

After the dinner, the interns showed the movie: “Horton Hears a Who”(2008), with popcorn and refreshments for the movie viewers. The movie tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a tiny world of “who” people living on a flower and decides to protect it, despite the fact that his community do not believe it exists. As Horton explains: “A person is a person, no matter how small”.

“We are very thankful to everyone who attended this event. Thanks to you all, it was a big success!”, said Pedro and Enita.

During the event attendees participated in a lottery asking the following trivia questions related to the Recycle PedasĂ­ program. See if you also know the answers:

Question: Where are the recycling bins located in PedasĂ­?

Correct Answer:

  1. The Azuero Earth Project
  2. Distribuidora LIBADI
  3. Residencial PedasĂ­
  4. Cooperative Rancho, Bajadero/Arenal Beach
  5. PedasĂ­ High School (Instituto Plinio Antonio Moscoso)
  6. EstaciĂłn Edy
  7. Clarisa and Cusi´s house, Main Plaza

Question: Which materials are recycled by the Recycle PedasĂ­ project in PedasĂ­?

Correct answer: Hard plastic and cans (aluminum and junk parts)

Winners were given t-shirts and maps of the Project. Do you want to participate in more activities related to recycling in Pedasí? If so, join the Recicla Pedasí (Recycle Pedasí) group on Facebook. The Recicla Pedasí project encourages education and culture of recycling as a method to protect natural resources and our health throughout our region and collaborates with the Alcadia, the Movimiento Juvenil Pedasí Verde, the Instituto P.A.M., the Azuero Earth Project, and the Organization de Niños de Azuero.

Azuero Earth Project´s First Time in the Pedasí Parade!

AEP´s cart, c. Vernon Scholey

The Azuero Earth Project participated in Pedasí´s local parade (desfile de carretas) for the first time ever on October 27. Led by Leo Mena, AEP´s eco-guide expert and Princeton in Latin America fellow, and Jairo Batista, AEP’s organic gardener, staff and friends constructed an ox-drawn cart (carreta) representing the dry forest of the Azuero. While this design differed from the typical rancho structure, AEP’s cart incorporated traditional elements, such as motetes (woven backpacks) and coconut treats (cocadas) made by AEP staff member Josefina Pérez.

AEP´s flag bearer, Sophie Fuchs, c. Leo Mena

Everyone took part in this celebratory event: Children dressed in folkloric attire – sombrero pintado for the boys and polleras for the girls – rode on top of the cart waving and throwing treats into the passing crowd. Our flag-bearer (abanderada) was Sophie Fuchs, AEP’s organic farming expert and other Princeton in Latin America Fellow. She waved AEP’s spider monkey flag, leading the group through the parade that marched around Pedasí’s central plaza. Staff and supporters marched behind the cart dancing, playing drums, and singing traditional songs with lyrics transformed to carry environmental messages. Members of the ANAM office in Las Tablas and students from the University of Las Tablas also attended the event to support the Project.

Gael Quintero in a traditional sombrero pintado, c. Sophie Fuchs

AEP’s traditional “tamborito” songs about the spider monkey and how to protect Azuero’s forest to spread powerful environmental messages through familiar tunes. As AEP staff and supporters sang “Ay qué será de él”, the song about the spider monkey, they held up a bangaña, a dried gourd with a spider monkey carved into it. The event itself represented an important opportunity for the Azuero Earth Project to take part in community activities and to explore local traditions while sharing a message of  environmental protection with the community. The Azuero Earth Project hopes to participate in future folkloric community events and welcomes your participation!

Lyrics to “Ay quĂ© será de Ă©l¨

Lyrics to ¨Que se proteja el monte¨

Written by Sophie M. Fuchs

Meet your Neighborhood Researchers!

Michele Goodfellow: Michele Goodfellow is completing her undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Conservation at the University of Florida.  From May-June 2012, she is partnering with Eduardo Ducreuz, a student from Panama’s Technological University in order to map the trees in the Azuero peninsula and determine their contribution to carbon intake as an undergraduate field assistant to Stephanie Bohlman, professor at the University of Florida.

Michael Bauman: Michael Bauman is a Master’s student from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida and is here on the Azuero from May to July. The goal of Michael’s project is to use ecological and social characteristics of the province to determine areas important for forest conservation. This season, he will be conducting interviews with organizations and landowners throughout the province to assess levels of organizational support for forest conservation and restoration programs and landowners’ willingness to conserve and restore forests.

Preservation Meets Paradise – Edwina von Gal featured in the Wall Street Journal

When celebrated garden designer Edwina von Gal journeyed to the dry forests of Panama, she found an idyllic spot for an off-the-grid home—and an outlet for her lifelong passion for sustaining landscapes

AEP Co-Founder and President, Edwina von Gal is featured in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal Magazine. Preservation Meets Paradise, by Edward Helmore discusses Edwina’s passion for natural landscapes and how she has translated this into her life’s work.

The article mentions the Azuero Earth Project and its mission of preserving the dry forest ecosystem:  “Their goal is mapping and finding new ways to protect plant and animal species in the dry forest. Some programs use satellite imaging to compare tracts of forest and detect changes in soil and vegetation; some involve fieldwork (her team recently traveled deep into the Cerro Hoya, setting cameras to monitor the movement of ocelots and puma); some are educational, such as creating a local network to test new seed varieties and organic-farming methods.”

2011 Year-End Report: Inspiring Sustainability


The Azuero Earth Project is proud to announce our 2011 Year-End Report: Inspiring Sustainability. Incorporating great design at no cost to the environment, (we resisted the urge to print copies) it perfectly personifies what we do. You can read the 2011 Year-End Report here.


In 2011 we expanded our effectiveness in creating sensible environmental solutions through education, outreach, and knowledge-sharing at both the local and international levels. None of this work would be possible without the passion, determination, and vision of our partners and donors to whom we are grateful. Thank you!

From New York to Pedasi – La Prensa features AEP President, Edwina von Gal

Edwina von Gal


MarĂ­a Mercedes de CorrĂł, a journalist from Panama’s leading newspaper, La Prensa, spoke with AEP’s President and Co-founder, Edwina von Gal about her work as a landscape designer, her involvement with Panama’s BioMuseo, and what brought her to Azuero. Read the full story here.

To read about AEP’s upcoming benefit picnic and concert, click here.

AEP Joins Jaguar Camera Trapping Expedition

Cerro Hoya National Park


Last week AEP staff members journeyed into Cerro Hoya National Park to place “camera traps” to study jaguars with Jessica Fort, an aspiring PhD student and is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in El Cortezo, Azuero and Eric Donoso from SOMASPA, Panama’s Mastozoological society.  As part of a pilot study, these cameras will help locate the last remaining members of this species and hopefully contribute to their conservation.  In addition to measuring the abundance of Jaguar and other feline species, the long-time goals of this study are to improve conservation efforts within Cerro Hoya by providing new data on feline abundance and other wildlife and to increase awareness of the park’s growing need for conservation to the outside scientific community.


Two local guides, Domingo from La Tronosa and Gilberto from El Cortezo, also participated, along with two additional Peace Corps volunteers.  This was a fascinating opportunity for AEP to collaborate with SOMASPA, Jessica, and Professor Clayton Nielsen from Southern Illinois University. The university and SOMASPA donated the cameras for this project.


Domingo, a local guide, and Eric, from SOMASPA, set up the first day’s cameras


For more information about the use of camera traps for conservation, read this article from


To see more photos from this expedition click here or visit  AEP on facebook.