Meet Jeremy! A two-time A Rocha Ontario summer staff member. Jeremy has spent the last 3 months in Costa Rica working with the EcoGuardianes program (a project of ADE) to establish community-based science projects and promote creation care. Although Jeremy has now returned home early due to COVID-19, we are excited to let him tell you a bit about his time…

Life in the Clouds

When I was told San Rafael de Vara Blanca (my town of 300 people) was in a cloud rainforest I didn’t quite realize that meant I would literally be living in a cloud! But that is reality for me right now. The mountain slopes are covered with dairy farms and lush green rain forests. It’s not uncommon to see rain and sun at the same time which makes for some beautiful rainbows. The vegetation and wildlife are astounding and incredibly diverse which gives me lots of opportunity to wonder at God’s creativity.

EcoGuardianes is the community based group that we have been facilitating, which encourages community members to invest in caring for creation through environmental education, energy saving programs and citizen science monitoring. The vision behind these actions is motivated by Christian conviction to protect and restore God’s creation.

 

Connecting Communities

Over these past weeks we have had two meetings in which we talked about our ideas and heard from the community. We have ended up really focusing on the biocorridor as a main starting point — the primary reasons being:

  • government policies supporting bio corridors
  • the location of our farm runs through a crucial point in connecting important habitat
  • and most importantly there has been a lot of community interest in this!

We know that if the community is not fully behind the project and taking ownership of it then it won’t last long term. So the idea is to connect Barva Volcano to Poas Volcano so that primarily birds and mammals (like monkeys and jaguars) are able to travel between national parks.

We are focused on connectivity in three different ways. The one I just described above is ecological connectivity. Allowing for travel between large areas of habitat is one way to prevent the effects of fragmentation on species (especially those that need a large range). The second is economic connectivity. The establishment of a biocorridor can be very helpful for local business owners and farmers. The final one is social connectivity. EcoGuardianes is a catalyst for social connectivity, as it brings together people to get to know each other and grow in community and relationships.

My involvement in all of this has been working on creating a list of all the species that our biocorridor will help. This has been done by sampling different areas along the biocorridor route with motion-activated camera traps. I have also been developing a map of the biocorridor that we can use to explain the concept, show areas that need to be focused on and track where all of our animal sightings have been.

Now that I’ve got you up to speed on what we are doing I’m going to say that all of it might not even matter…

 

All a Part of the Kingdom

Before you jump to conclusions let me explain. Tomas who is the director of ADE (Association for Development through Education) used to run Vara Blanca’s very first highschool, which in a short time had the highest graduating grade average in the nation! It was incredibly successful and many youth and by extension their families benefited from this opportunity to go to school. However after eight years of running a successful project he realized that he had made it all about the school — when in reality as Christians we reserve our focus, our worship, the best of our lives for God. Once we do this will we have the right motivations and ability to truly love our neighbours as ourselves.

Tomas has become convinced that when we put Christ first above our own ideals then we start to share the kingdom of God with others. The work of EcoGuardianes only ultimately matters if we are centred on surrendering our hearts and desires to God. EcoGuardianes is the platform or access point to share the broader gospel message of who God is and what he has done for us. So the work of caring for His creation and sharing His good news is really all a part of His Kingdom!

 

— Jeremy Petrusma