We are committed to empowering biocultural leaders.

Our Mission and Vision

Earth Train envisions a world where human values, enterprise and habitat are in harmony with nature. Our mission is to promote biocultural renewal—that is the practice of creating sustainable communities and institutions in harmony with nature and enriched with biological and cultural diversity.

We work toward our 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

Special Announcements

EEL Urban+Environment Brochure Cover

Apply Now to Participate in Earth Train's Urban+Environmental Panama Institute

Earth Train's Emerging Environmental Leaders (EEL) is hosting an exciting new summer institute on urban + environmental development in Panama. Through immersion experiences in the jungles of Panama and in several interesting urban environments in the throes of rapid development, students will learn to address the balance between socioeconomic advancement and conservation.

Learn more from the brochure, and sign up with our application form! Summer session July 5th - 14th

Grit PDF Cover

Earth Train's Grit and Leadership Challenge, now open for applications

High schoolers, don't miss your opportunity to participate in one of two "Grit and Leadership Challenge" sessions, co-hosted by Earth Train and EarthED at the Mamoní Valley Preserve in July and August! Click here for more information.

Recent News

Earth Train launches "Corazones Contentos" Program in the Mamoní Valley

Today we officially launched our Corazones Contentos Program in the Mamoní Valley. The program addresses the urgent need for food security in the Valley's rural communities, and was kicked off with a food drive to fill the gap between now and harvest time.

A special thanks goes out to James Mattiace and all the folks at ISP, as well as Victor Simone and our friends at the MET for pushing to make this food drive a huge success. We raised almost 800 pounds of food, as well as over $300 as an unexpected jumpstart to cover program expenses like transport, seeds, basic tools and other such things.

Next week we'll be calling a meeting among families in the community to assess what they see as the needs at hand and to initiate the process of assembling a committee among community members. Stay tuned for updates and service opportunities as we confirm the details and timeframe of the program!

ISP Service Learning at the Mamoní Valley Preserve

This weekend we had the pleasure of hosting the International School of Panama's Talent Development Program Service Learning task force—a group of eight industrious and motivated students from ISP's elementary school and high school.

Photo of Grey

"What I learned today was that sometimes people from the city take a lot of things for granted, and that we need to help others that don't have as much as we do." – 10-year-old Grey Murray during our reflection circle at night.

Foto: Kael Shipman

The 4 elementary school boys wanted to provide a way for kids living in rural, off-grid environments to have access to light at night that would help them work on their homework, read, or get around the community without problems. They came up with a solar-powered night-light that they called Sun Jars, and amazingly, after engineering a prototype, the kids launched a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $3,000 to fund the project!

The girls on the trip—representing the ISP high school—had two goals. The first was to improve recreational facilities in La Zahina through a set of easy-to-assemble soccer goals made of pvc piping, and the donation of old sports balls that they gathered from friends and family. The goals went up lightening fast, and we had a great time playing ball afterwards.

Their second goal was to create a relationship with the community of La Zahina that would help them and their classmates work with community members to deliver solutions and aid over the long term where it's really needed. The girls interviewed several families in town to ask how they thought the school could best help them solve some of their more serious problems, like access to good health care and supplies, and improving the quality of their education. They plan to use this information to design more directed service campaigns in the near future.

The kids were a pleasure to host, and demonstrated the level of maturity, thoughtfulness and drive that we strive to foster here at Earth Train. They're welcome back any time, and we'll be eagerly awaiting the next installment of ISP's Service Learning initiatives!

Calling All Young Conservationists!

Earth Day 2015 Logo

To celebrate Earth Day 2015, Earth Train is calling on 10 middle- and high-school kids to convene at our offices at City of Knowledge building 146a from 3:30pm to 5:00pm on Wednesday, the 22nd of April, for a conversation on consumerism, industrialism and waste. Bring an old used cell phone to donate to Rainforest Connection and get a delicious home-made cookie!

Biocharred

March is the transition month from the dry to rainy seasons here in Panama. As it so happens, seasons are changing for Earth Train and her many partners and friends in the Mamoní Valley Preserve.

You may remember a post from last September outlining our strategy talks with Ceiba Forestry and Rainforest Capital for bolstering an ecologically-sustainable economy in the Mamoní Valley. If you don’t remember, feel free to read here.

Ceiba returned this month to further our joint vision for a Mamoní Valley Preserve that lives on the cutting edge of ecological restoration, biocultural renewal and socially positive enterprises. On this visit, we lit the match on biochar and got Ceiba’s nursery going with a cubic meter of the fertilizer-on-steroids.

It’s backbreaking work, from harvesting to loading and unloading the lumber; burning the industrial refrigerator-sized pile; shoveling, crushing and bagging the char; and all of this is compulsory before even mixing and burying the product for fertilization! Thankfully, James Rob, and Christian from the Ceiba crew successfully passed the torch to the local employees, who will be producing the black gold en masse to jumpstart the nursery, which is one exciting part of our collective vision for the MVP.

Oh how the second-hand trembles onward!

Ananda School Visit

There’s nothing more satisfying to an Earth Train staffer than the presence of well-rounded, respectful students within the thatched roofs of Centro Mamoní. We’re sad to see the spirited scholars of the Ananda Living Wisdom School fly back to their California community this week.

While they were here, the students experienced the draw of Panama City, trekked through the rainforest in the Mamoní Valley Preserve, visited multiple communities in the valley, and coasted out to visit Colón.

From the base of Centro Mamoní, the eight participating students and four chaperones went on three hikes and visited two communities. In San José, the Ananda crew presented gifts to the local students, kicked around a soccer ball, and painted. In La Zahina, everyone played with kayaks in the water. Of course, no visit to the MVP is complete without checking out Junglewood Falls, where the girls swam in the cascades and baked in the sun on the hot rocks.

Most importantly, the Ananda crew showed world-record work ethic. Thanks to their help, led by Earth Train’s own Mark Knetsch, Centro Mamoní’s recreation area looks better than ever. Soon we’ll have both a seating niche carved into the hill above the pool and a humble (but beautiful!) cascade flowing into the pool itself. She doesn’t look like much yet, but say hello to the newly christened Ananda Falls!

A big thanks to all the hard-working ladies of the Ananda Living Wisdom School; we hope to see you all (or maybe the boys) again.

OJEWP Comes to Centro Mamoní for a Workshop on Climate Change

Earth Train was honored to receive a group of young leaders from the Organization of Emberá and Wounaan Youth of Panamá—OJEWP—for a climate change workshop developed in collaboration with our Leadership and Guide Program. Twenty indigenous youth plus five community leaders came to Centro Mamoní for a weekend intensive on climate change, its global and local significance, and how they can lead the way to changing behaviors through a rediscovery of their own cultures' traditional ways of managing and respecting natural resources.

As part of their workshop activities, participants interviewed a number of families in the rural Mamoní village of La Zahina. They then compiled their findings and presented to the rest of the group on such topics as the local economy, land and resource management, and the role of spirituality in daily life.

This workshop was funded in part by a grant from the Alstom Foundation, through Earth Train's Leadership and Guide Program. It also served as a gateway to the recruitment of more Leadership and Guide Fellows—outstanding young individuals who will be offered a spot in our program to receive training in community leadership through eco hospitality.