by Susan Kelley
In Fall 2019 Students, teachers, mothers and fathers arrived in dugout canoes after paddling for hours down the Amazon River. They brought bird costumes and bird-shaped signs they’d made out of recycled materials, and bird-themed plays and songs they’d written themselves. Over five days more than 900 Peruvians from 30 communities gathered in five villages in the Loreto region of Peru for festivals celebrating birds of the Peruvian Amazon.
The project – Celebra las Aves en la Amazonía Peruana (Celebrate Birds in the Peruvian Amazon), which involves 55 rural Amazonian communities and 2,000 K-12 students in a partnership with the Civil Association for the Conservation of the Peruvian Amazon Environment (CONAPAC), a nonprofit in Iquitos, Peru.
“It’s not just a project for schools where the kids are doing little projects,” Purcell says. “It’s the entire community coming together.” “How do you encourage rural people to try to save the rainforest?” Brian Landever, director of CONAPAC, asks. “The answer, thus far successful, is by working in an equitable and inclusive manner, side by side with local communities, and emphasizing the need to reflect on, respect and integrate Indigenous culture from the region.” Since then, the project has resulted in a flowering of community interest in bird conservation.