We are committed to empowering biocultural leaders.

Our Mission

Earth Train is dedicated to promoting biocultural renewal - that is the practice of creating sustainable communities and institutions in harmony with nature and enriched with biological and cultural diversity.

Earth Train accomplishes its mission through:

  • Peer-to-peer teaching
  • Peer-to-peer networking
  • Cross-cultural and cross-generational coaching and mentoring
  • Experiential learning
  • Creating learning organizations
  • Cultivating biocultural business

Our Vision

A world where human values, enterprise and habitat are in harmony with nature.

Recent News

Rainforest Capital in Panama for Strategy Talks with Earth Train in the Mamoní Valley Preserve

Our partners and friends from Rainforest Capital and Ceiba Forestry have just made a 10-day visit to the Mamoni Valley Preserve for a semi-annual on-site operational meeting. Rainforest Captial's Stephen Wiel joined Ceiba's Sam Larson, Matt Brewer and other staff along with Earth Train's Nathan Gray and staff for walks and talks in and about the Mamoni Valley Preserve.

Highlights from our time together include the advancements of some key friendships in the Preserve, including that of the Montesa Family, who has owned property there for over 40 years. The Montesas have taken the initiative to experiment over the past few years with a variety of potentially viable crops in the valley, including some that could help form the basis of a new and more ecologically-sustainable economy in the Valley.

We also took some time for Steve and the Ceiba crew to get to know some of the families in the town of La Zahina, deep in the middle of the Valley. We took our ultra light-weight inflatable kayaks along and had a blast with village kids for 2 hours in the river.

Toward the end of our time together, we celebrated with a pig roast, then returned to the city for a quick trip to the BioMuseo and some talks with lead architect Patrick Dillon, also an important partner in our work with City of Knowledge on the so-called "Green Steel" Biocultural Pavillion.

Earth Train and the Alstom Corporation Sign Corporate Sponsorship Agreement

Earth Train founder Nathan Gray signs a corporate sponsorship agreement with an Alstom representative.

Earth Train founder Nathan Gray signs a corporate sponsorship agreement with an Alstom representative.

Photo: Atala Beckford, Earth Train

Earth Train has officially signed a corporate sponsorship agreement with the Alstom Corporation, the Paris-based global engineering firm responsible for the execution of the first two Metro lines in Panama.

Earth Train submitted a proposal for the Alstom grant earlier this year, and was selected as the sole recipient in the Americas of the Alstom Foundation's funds. The Alstom funds are earmarked for the following projects and improvements:

  • Development of management and training team at Centro Mamoní
  • Infrastructural improvements at Centro Mamoni, including upgraded housing facilities for the reception of special guests
  • The launch of our Leadership and Guide program, including funding for our Program Director Kike Arias as well as five Leadership and Guide Fellows selected from among a pool of applicants
  • Advancements on our Wildlife Conservation Center&endash;a collaboration with the Houston Zoo

Thank you Alstom team for the help and support in securing these important funds, and we look forward to sharing the results with the world!

The First Mamoní Pool Party: Thank You Hubbard Family Swim School!!

In the warm, late-afternoon sun in the Mamoni Valley, Earth Train staff, volunteers, and children from San José de Madroño had their first dip in Earth Train's recently finished regulation-size swimming pool. Seven kids and a few adult chaperones—including San José's primary school teacher, Marcelino—joined the Diaz-Gray family, Mark Knetsch and volunteers Margaret Haltom and Brian Lester as they splashed in the cool mountain waters.

The party was a blast, and we'd like to thank everyone who made it possible. Our deepest gratitude goes to the Hubbard Family Swim School, whose generous donation made this pool a reality. Thanks also to Rolando Toribio for his leadership, and Panamanian contractor Bienvenido and his team of workers who built the pool piece by piece from the ground up. Thanks to the many hands that helped along the way, including the staff and students at the Metropolitan School of Panama; to Leandro Toribio and Gabriel Salazar for their constant attention and collaboration; to Mark Knetsch and Margaret Haltom who organized this inaugural event.

We can't wait to complete the tiling, landscaping and amenities. Until then, stay tuned for the next Centro Mamoní Pool Party Bonanza!

The Metropolitan School of Panama Comes to Centro Mamoni for Hikes and Workshops

The Metropolitan School of Panama brought 43 of its 9th and 10th graders to Earth Train's Centro Mamoni for 4 days of workshops, activities and hikes from the 26th through the 29th of March. The visit was a blast, starting with our customary visit to Junglewood falls and a day of adjusting to the facilities and the microclimate in the Valley.

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In thirty years of leading middle and high school field trips and expeditions in over a dozen countries, this was the best I've ever been on.

- Rick Hengelbrok, Principal, The MET

The following days were full of hiking adventures, waterfalls, fun and interesting workshops, a little Hard Physical Labor, good food, good music and a lot of laughs. Enjoy the photos above, and check out more on our facebook page!

This was a big visit, and we'd like to recognize and thank everyone who helped make it possible, especially our volunteers, Mike Yarek, Dereck Monette, Gerardo Ochoa and Sam Sucre. Thanks also to Catriona White, Catarina da Rosa and Leonarda for holding down the kitchen; to Atala Beckford and Delia Cedeño for logistical support and for holding down the base back in Ciudad del Saber; to Mark Knetsch, Kandi Valle, Carlos Andrés Gonzalez, Rolando Toribio, Luis Carlos Sánchez, Gabriel Salazal, Nathan Gray, Giuseppe Villalaz, Kael Shipman and the paramedics Seibert Bonilla and Alejandra Hernández for important contributions in our programming and on-site logistics; and to Rick Hengelbrok and the MET crew for being great guests and true collaborators. Great job Earth Train team, great job MET team, great job students and participants, and we look forward to more adventures in the not-so-distant future!

Richie Barshay at the Mamoní Valley Preserve

At the end of the Panama Jazz Festival, we had the pleasure of hosting world-class percussionist Richie Barshay and 5-time Grammy Award-winning sound engineer and producer Rob Griffin at the Mamoní Valley Preserve. During their visit, Richie took a moment to experiment with the sounds of nature, while Rob filmed on his iPhone.

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This video is funky, yet it succeeds in conveying Richie's spontaneous joy in composing in nature, it's a harbinger of the greatness to come out of our inventive partnership with Mother Nature, Artistic Director. And her lead partner is Rob Griffin—the co-founder of Junglewood. While he started out his impressive career in music as a guitarist, we love and welcome him as the Pied Piper of Junglewood.

- Nathan Gray, Co-Executive Directory of Earth Train

Festival de Liderazgo Biocultural: Un Resumen

¡Llegó la traducción al Español del resumen de nuesto exitoso Festival de Liderazgo Biocultural de Noviembre de 2013! Descárgalo aquí.

Our Spanish-language translation of Spotlight on Biocultural Leadership has just been released. Read it here.

Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences is here!

Earth Train, through our arts-and-nature program Junglewood, hosted the Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences during the week of the Panama Jazz Festival. We were honored and thrilled to have these extraordinary young performers in from Santa Monica, CA for this week of music and exploration. They are accompanied by the guitarist and executive director of Junglewood, Shea Welsh; Crossroads music teacher Evan Avery; and Spanish teacher Molly Cavallaro.

To start the week off, we spent three days and two nights at Earth Train's Centro Mamoní in the Mamoní Valley Preserve. We introduced the students to the location of the future Junglewood sustainable artistic and cultural community at the eastern entrance to the Mamoní Valley Preserve. Led by Earth Train's naturalist and co-executive director Lider Sucre, they took hikes through the back-country to visit a few very special spots in the Preserve. On the last night, after a long day of hiking, the enchantment of Junglewood reined as all of us took up a variety of instruments, including an improvised bamboo pipe drum, to create unforgettable music inspired by Nature.

It was truly an honor and a joy to have the Crossroads students and teachers with us this week. We thank them all for being such wonderful guests and Junglewood partners.

Earth Train's Spotlight on Biocultural Leadership with Jane Goodall - Nov 12th through Nov 15th

Reflections on our remarkable week with Jane Goodall and friends

In the second week of November a remarkable mix of people joined the primatologist Jane Goodall in Panama for five days of dialogue and cultural events under the banner of “Biocultural Leadership”.

Download the essay in english here and in spanish here.

Our most sincere gratitude to our collaborators and sponsors who made this successful event possible. Thank you!

Spotlight on Biocultural Leadership—Collaborators & Sponsors


Thank You Everyone!

Earth Train Production Crew

Thanks to the Earth Train Production Crew and all the other folks who helped!

Photo: Kael Shipman, Earth Train

Earth Train's Spotlight on Biocultural Leadership has laid some very important foundations, and we're proud to say it was a huge success! We look forward to continuing our work together with Four Worlds International Institute, Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots, Panama's BioMuseo, the Panama International Hotel School, and all the other people and organizations that made this week what it was. Thank you!

Day Four: Go Wild!

Kids explain their project to Jane Goodall

Contest winners explain their project to Dr. Goodall

Photo: Nathan Gray, Earth Train

This was the final day of Earth Train's Spotlight on Biocultural Leadership with Jane Goodall, and we're sad to see it end! We started today off with a canopy tour for Dr. Goodall in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Canopy Crane, accompanied by two of the winning students from Earth Train's Go Wild! wildlife conservation contest.

After that, we gathered at the MET in the City of Knowledge for the official presentations of the 40 Go Wild! contest winners. They ranged from colorful informational books to creative board games to websites, cookbooks and more. The participants demonstrated impressive creativity and motivation, and we were thrilled that they got to take advantage of this unique opportunity!

Kids with Jane, Halit and Lider for Go Wild!

Jane Goodall, Halit Khoshen and Lider Sucre with Kids from Go Wild!

Photo: Kael Shipman, Earth Train

As part of the prize for having worked so hard on their wildlife conservation and awareness projects, the kids got to sit for 2 hours with Dr. Goodall in a question-and-answer session that was broadcast live on the internet by La Prensa. In this unique session, the kids got to talk to Dr. Goodall about her personal thoughts regarding Panama, it's culture, it's ecosystem and the way it relates to the bigger picture of wildlife conservation and Biocultural renewal.