Connecting with Nature: Outreach on Santa Cruz with GCT’s Outreach Coordinator Anne Guezou

By Beth Byrne and Alice Marks

Anne Guezou is GCT’s Outreach Coordinator on Santa Cruz – she delivers our extra-curricular environmental education opportunities, and supports teachers and their classes with engaging outreach sessions in the field. Anne is a botanist by training but also has a wealth of environmental education experience.

Anne is instrumental in our Connecting with Nature programme as she supports local schools, students, Ecology Project International (EPI), Galapagos National Park (GNP), our Galapagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme (GTMEP) and our Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos Programme.

Anne supports extra-curricular sessions on tortoises and plastic pollution with the Mola Mola club, a ecology club for engaged 14-18 year old (with a core membership of around 20 students). Additionally, during EPI’s residential camps attended by both local and international students, Anne delivers giant tortoise ecology modules, such as radio tracking tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz, and analysing the role of giant tortoises in seed dispersal.

Camp students looking for seeds in tortoise dung to count and identify them. © Anne Guezou

The Mola Mola club also takes part in turtle nesting and microplastic surveys on Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz. The group surveys the beach, collecting microplastic samples to be analysed by PhD student, and GCT’s Head of Programmes, Jen Jones at the University of Exeter (and forms part of our research for our Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos programme). This citizen science activity offers the opportunity for young people to contribute directly to an important baseline risk assessment of microplastics for Galapagos’ wildlife while learning new field skills.

Young Galapagos students involved in a microplastics survey © Anne Guezou

Anne also supports our partnership with GNP and their outreach to schools by running sessions linked to their ‘Programa de Participación Estudiantil’ (PPE). In Ecuador, students aged from 15-17 are required to complete 100 extra-curricular hours per year for two years. Anne has developed engaging field and indoor educational sessions across the PPE focus areas of botany and native plants, invasive species and the Marine Reserve to help them complete their hours. As part of the PPE Marine Reserve project, the students also take part in the citizen science microplastic surveys. Additionally, Anne supports the Park’s activities during the holidays (‘Vacaciones felices’) and their programme called ‘Fortalecimiento curricular’ for younger students (4-11 years old), such as a ‘how to spot a tortoise’ activity.

The GNP benefits from having a local, experienced educator and scientist on hand to deliver high-quality outreach. Anne’s tortoise outreach sessions link with research by scientists from the Galapagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme (GTMEP), and she delivers a range of community talks and presentations on this work with their researchers, such as at the CDF open house event.

Find out more about our Connecting with Nature Programme. Help us inspire even more young people across the Galapagos Islands by donating to this project today.