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raising champions for the environment

Young Eco Leaders

Empowering and inspiring

advocates for sustainability and biodiversity

At Iracambi we believe that saving forests and changing lives starts with opening minds. Everything that we do relates to education, from informal discussions with international volunteers and students, to conversations with farm families who participate in our Forests4Water project, to the discoveries made by our Young Eco Leaders.

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Young Eco Leaders

We work with students  from the local schools, bringing them into the heart of the forest for a life-changing experience. Children in our remote rural area live in one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, yet their level of understanding and appreciation of the forests is very low. Traditionally, forests are considered barriers to progress, trees are cut down and animals are eaten or simply killed because they are “dangerous”.

This lack of knowledge is one of the principal drivers of ecosystem destruction. Healthy forests benefit everyone, giving us fresh air, clean water and incomparable opportunities for leisure. To save the last great forests, we must focus on the younger generation, help them to understand their place in the web of life and learn to love and value the forest ecosystem.

Please note that during the covid lockdown we are running online courses for environmental leaders. We look forward to hosting the schoolkids again as soon as it is safe to do so. 

How do students learn about the forest?

We believe that learning happens when students develop an emotional connection with the environment in which they live. As they come to understand how climate change impacts their environment, we encourage them to discover their relationship with nature and develop their leadership qualities. At the same time we support them as they become change-makers in their communities.

Activities take place throughout the school year. The forest provides a natural laboratory where the children can leave the built environment of the city and discover for themselves the natural environment around them.

We encourage the children to use their senses to experience nature in all its exuberance. From looking closely at leaves and flowers, to smelling freshly watered earth, tasting sweet forest fruits and listening to the different birdsongs of the forest, we help them discover their inner scientist, encouraging them to observe, experiment and make deductions.

Most importantly, we help the children express what they have learned, through drawings, interviews and writing. We encourage them to share the amazing things that they have discovered with their friends, families and neighbors so that when they grow up, they will have a deeper appreciation for their natural environment and will fight to protect it.

Ecolider iracambi
The emphasis on an individual doing their part has been engraved on my conscience. I have a desire to continue to work toward being a responsible inhabitant of the earth.
Shalanda Grier
Hampton University, Iracambi Strong Participant​
amphibian species in the Atlantic Forest
bird species in the Atlantic Forest
plant species in the Atlantic Forest


Most frequent questions and answers

Everything we do is focused on inspiring local communities to understand, appreciate and act in defense of their environment. So whether we are arousing the curiosity of students and teachers in schools, hosting researchers, exchanging practical tips with local farmers, or introducing school children to the living laboratory of the rainforest, our aim is to inspire, equip and empower a new generation of environmental champions.  

As well as providing intensive training to 40 young environmental leaders every year, we plan to work with more teachers, involve more schools – including private schools in field days – offer campouts to international schools from farther afield, increase our online student exchanges, and offer short programs during weekends and school vacations.

We aim to involve everyone: teachers, parents, children, youth, Iracambi staff, students and visitors, corporate sponsors and educators of all ages and backgrounds. We are constantly seeking to integrate our education programs at every level, from interns and researchers to farm families, visitors and school kids, bringing people together and letting learning happen.

If you are an educator, we’d love to partner with your school, and if you are in the world of business, please contact us about working together on a sponsorship package so that together we can open up a world of opportunities for rural youth in this area. And don’t forget to hit the donate button!

If you’d like to get involved with our Young Eco-Leaders program, either through support or internships please get in touch