Ethan Shirley

Ethan Shirley

I started a non-profit effort with fellow undergrad Julie Bateman to realize my idea of establishing a school and field station in a rural area within a natural World Heritage Site. The area, known as the Brazilian Pantanal, is an ecological haven for countless rare and endangered species, and consists of mainly privately-owned land. The effort is designed to introduce the area to sustainable technologies and improve understanding of ecological risks while preserving the local culture and bringing new opportunities with basic curriculum. Our team also had engineers and architects, and together with locals we built the school in 3 months. In addition to building, we conducted a census to better understand the community and we negotiated with the Mato Grosso State Secretary of Education to provide classes for local children (including many who have yet to go to school). I will return in January to finish work on the school and field station, and to talk to the State Secretary of Health to negotiate facilitating access to doctors and medicine for this rural community.

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