Logo by Ben Brose, photo by MJ Munsey
Cultivating a Generation of Conservation Leaders
Aventureros is a year-round youth program hosted by the Vermilion Sea Institute that supports local students in discovering and caring for the marine and terrestrial worlds around them. We believe that with exploration comes wonder, with wonder comes inspiration, and with inspiration comes knowledge, care and protection. Through outdoor activities like learning to swim, snorkel, surveying invertebrate species, setting camera traps, beach clean-ups and marine plastic research, our aim is to cultivate the next generation of conservation and community leaders in Bahía de Los Ángeles.
In the last year, our free program has welcomed 52 local students into the field station to learn alongside staff, visitors and volunteer instructors. For us, doing is learning, and the Aventureros participant-driven curriculum is always taking students outside to do something fun! In the summer, water exploration skills are emphasized, including: swimming, water safety, snorkeling and rowing. Winter brings opportunities for hiking, field trips, and campouts! Team building, leadership and conservation skills are woven into every activity. To learn more about the 2020-2021 year click here.
Photo by Brendan McGrath
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“My dream for each of these kids is that if they wish to stay in Bahía, they can do that – while also supporting themselves, their families, and the natural ecosystems.”
– Meghann McDonald,
During our busy summer season, small groups of Aventureros lead groups of 20-30 graduate students visiting the field station through surveying marine plastic debris and discussions about local plastic problems and solutions. Each visiting group then helps collect an average of eight samples over the course of two days. Although the focus is to collect reliable data and clean local beaches, we make sure to appreciate mother Earth on these outings—which means taking a swim and pausing to appreciate pods of dolphins, feeding whale sharks or snorkeling with flying mobula rays. These young “ecowarriors” talk proudly of what they are learning and of the ocean in their backyard. Check out more of our work at the Just One Ocean blog.
Additionally, two to three times a week any youth, 7-17, are invited to participate in “Tiempo Libre” from 10AM-2PM. On these days the focus is on building community, learning about a topic of focus (ie. local fish species) and having fun practicing our water skills. These skills include learning to swim and snorkel, paddleboarding, water navigation, sea kayaking, nutritious cooking and much more!
School Year Program
In the mornings on Monday-Thursday students work on their remote schoolwork (following Covid closures local schools have not reopened). During this time we provide internet, access to laptops, a quiet work space and basic school support. Then we prepare lunch together and do a 60-90 minute activity related to the weekly theme.
On Fridays, or “Super Viernes!”, we do an all day activity that draws upon the skills learned throughout the week. For example, one week the theme was birding and Aventureros learned about bird ID, morphology, data collection and use of binoculars. Friday, we met at the station at 5 am, and we traveled together to the estuary for bird watching and identification. Other weekly themes have included Leave No Trace, navigation, reduction of waste, local history, technology in conservation, oceanography and gastronomy.
Photo by Josh Cross
Photo by Brendan McGrath
We intentionally partner with local, national and international conservation efforts to learn about, participate in, and promote care for the natural environment. The students have contributed to research on sea turtles with Grupo Tortuguero, microplastics with The Big Microplastic Survey and the University of Washington and other projects through ProNatura and the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegida. Although each partnership is unique, in most cases Aventureros are trained in science protocols and are then tasked with contributing local data to worldwide research efforts.
CALL FOR VOLUNTEER INSTRUCTORS 2022
Interested in becoming a volunteer instructor? CONTACT US and begin a conversation about how you could bring your own week-long curriculum to VSFS in Bahia de Los Angeles to share with the Aventureros. We can’t wait to learn from you!
And a special thank you to our awesome team of 2021 volunteer instructors! We love and miss you!
To engage with the marine bioreserve, one must have the necessary water skills,equipment and resources that few in this community have access to—especially local youth. Recognizing this, we began informally inviting local children to join our data collection efforts when there was an open seat on a boat. Word spread quickly and soon we had a small group of eager participants who jumped at every opportunity to learn about and explore the world around them. Fittingly, they began calling themselves “Aventureros” or the “Adventurers” and it stuck!
Now, thanks to the support of our donors, the Aventureros are a permanent part of the Vermilion Sea Institute. Each week brings new learning, and we are so grateful for this community of powerful, curious and spunky change agents.
Designed by the Aventureros.
Brought to life by Ben Brose.
We have reduced our number of visiting participants, and maintain physical distancing and other COVID-19 prevention protocol. The kids’ safety is always our top priority and we will continue to adapt and modify our safety protocols to respond to changing conditions.