A Teacher in Guatemala Cultivates a New Generation of Conservationists

Teacher Lesbia Gualip, who works in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (home to archaeological treasure Tikal) talks about the strengths of the Rainforest Alliance curriculum.

Lesbia Gualip

Lesbia Gualip, teacher at El Porvenir primary school in Guatemala

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo

Sometimes when school teacher Lesbia Gualip asks her students a math question, they’ll start talking about trees and conservation—and for Gualip, that’s a good thing. “That’s when I realize they have come to understand the importance of nature, our environment, the trees and animals,” Gualip says.

It’s not an accident that Gualip's students think of the environment during math class. “The Rainforest Alliance gives us the tools to integrate environmental education into our regular classes, so we can relate it to math, to literature and to art. That way the students can learn about these things on a daily basis,” she explains.

For Gualip, who was born and bred in this remote, tropical town, where rare butterflies and birds are common, teaching young people about conservation is of paramount importance. El Porvenir is situated in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, just miles from the famed archeological treasure Tikal and steps away from the rainforest. Teachers in communities like El Porvenir are respected as leaders and trusted as advisers, which puts Gualip in a good position to cultivate the next generation of local environmentalists.

"The Rainforest Alliance gives us the tools to integrate environmental education into our regular classes, so we can relate it to math, to literature and to art. That way the students can learn about these things on a daily basis."

Lesbia Gualip

Gualip says that she and her colleagues appreciate learning new pedagogical methodologies. But "we also really like that the Rainforest Alliance curriculum provides a lot of practical activities," such as measuring rainfall, making art with natural objects or creating a vegetable garden. Gualip always makes sure, after attending a Rainforest Alliance training, to gather fellow teachers from El Porvenir and neighboring communities to share her new knowledge. "I do the workshop, but my colleagues also learn."

Communities

Forest communities are on the front lines of the fight against climate change.