After the opening of the Rare Pride campaign in Zumba, Ecuador to protect the local watershed, a call was made for students from different secondary schools of Zumba to meet and form eco clubs.
The Guardians of Nature is the first eco club to form. Its members are pre-teens and teens looking to respect and protect the environment and participate in the campaign’s activities. The club is one of Conservation Fellow Luis Lopez Jaramillo’s achievements in his Rare Pride campaign. He created it specifically with the purpose of getting the school kids involved in the campaign in a systematic and consistent manner.
This campaign is working to reduce the threats of logging, fires, and water pollution posed to the San Andres Watershed (water source for City of Zumba). The campaign, through a Arreglos Reciprocos por el Agua (ARA) scheme (Reciprocal Agreements for Water), will change the behavior of land owners and cattle ranchers, promoting incentives to substitute destructive practices for sustainable production alternatives, and will ultimately create social recognition and a stronger local identity. The existing regional waterfund will support downstream involvement to develop a reciprocity commitment along the watershed.
“The club also addresses the over-arching mission of getting kids off their butts in the Internet cafes, blowing up aliens and doing something more constructive with their time,” Pride Program Manager Alan Hesse said.
The eco club is like a Scout club, with a whole structure of personal advancement based on personal effort and merit. Similar to the Boy or Girl Scouts, high performing individuals receive badges of honor, showing those members to have reached the next level within the club. The eco club members are only admitted in to the club if they have good grades, and ongoing good grades combined with active involvement in Pride campaign activities is the basis for advancement within the club.
Members performing not as well are assigned a personal mentor or tutor if they fall short in one of the quarterly evaluations. The mentors are high performing members, and they take on underperforming members as another club challenge. Their task is to bring that kid up to par with school grades, and get them more involved in the campaign.