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Osmar Monzón: Steward of the Maya Forest

In celebration of the International Year of Forests, we are highlighting those individuals, communities and businesses actively safeguarding the lungs of the planet.

Osmar Monzón: Steward of the Maya Forest Jaguars, scarlet macaws, howler monkeys and leafcutter ants thrive amidst the dense foliage of the Maya Forest, a biologically-rich ecosystem that extends from Guatemala, through Belize and into Mexico. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Osmar Monzón, a fourth-grade teacher at the Ixlú Community School -- located within Guatemala’s precious piece of the Maya Forest, in a region known as the Petén -- has developed such a keen interest in protecting his surroundings. “Living and working among the incredible biodiversity we have here, it is difficult not to become interested in conservation,” he says.

To ensure that teachers like Monzón have the skills and resources they need to bring environmental education into their classrooms, the Rainforest Alliance provides curricula, hosts workshops in the Petén, Ghana and the US, and offers follow-ups to ensure that teachers effectively integrate our lessons into their classes. “The workshops have increased my knowledge of the region’s geography and provided me with new, effective ways to engage children in [conservation] issues,” Monzón explains.

His love of the environment is proving to be contagious. “I see some kids telling other to clean up waste when they have littered; a few years ago, this would never have happened,” he says.

To learn more about the Rainforest Alliance's work with teachers in Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve, watch a slide show of a recent teacher-training workshop. Interested in bringing lessons in sustainability to schools in your neighborhood? Tell teachers in your community about our Learning Site -- it offers multidisciplinary curricula and resources to help students understand how rainforests contribute to our collective well-being.

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