The MERI Foundation develops environmental education with the aim of promoting the assessment and protection of the Conservation Targets of the Melimoyu Nature Reserve. Our environmental education programs address physical, emotional, spiritual and cognitive aspects to develop in people the recognition of the sense of eco-systemic belonging. That is, rejecting the vision of nature as a utilitarian resource or as the environment that surrounds us, and recognizing the natural values of the territory and our participation in biodiversity as an element of an interconnected system.

The three main Conservation Targets of the Melimoyu Nature Reserve, defined in its Strategic Conservation Plan, are: 1) the blue whale, 2) the freshwater ecosystems, and 3) the cypress of the Guaitecas and its associations. The MERI Foundation generates Environmental Education Programs focused on each conservation object, with the goal that “by 2020, the different target audiences will recognize that they belong to a global ecological system and understand the natural value of the Conservation Targets and the scope of their actions on the conservation of biodiversity”.

In order to reach this goal, the educational programs “Cetaceans of Northern Patagonia” and “The Patagonian Water” are conducted for both schoolchildren and adults. ((go to Programs) (go to Coverage)

Coverage

From 2015 to date, the coverage of our educational programs has increased progressively, initially and primarily focused on localities and rural schools of the Northern Patagonian coast, in the regions of Aysén and Los Lagos.

Every year since 2016, the MERI Foundation carries out the Educational Navigation Route, a route by sea in which the MERI Environmental Education programs are taken to schools closest to the Melimoyu Nature Reserve, which surround the Gulf of Corcovado, and localities that mostly have maritime access. The schools that participate in the Educational Navigation Route are:

  • Escuela Madre de la Divina Providencia, Puerto Gala, commune of Cisnes.
  • Escuela Melimoyu School, Melimoyu, commune of Cisnes.
  • Escuela Amanda Labarca Huberstone School, Puerto Raúl Marín Balmaceda, commune of Cisnes.
  • Escuela Repollal, El Repollal, commune of Las Guaitecas.
  • Colegio San Agustín, Quellón, commune of Quellón.

In 2018, the Educational Navigation Route for “The Patagonian Water” program was carried out for the first time, with financing from Explora de CONICYT (Project Code: ED210084)

Since 2018, the MERI Foundation has expanded the coverage of its environmental education programs on the Isla Grande de Chiloé. At the moment, complete educational programs are offered in three rural schools:

  • Escuela Inés Bazán, San José, commune of Castro.
  • Escuela de Curahue, Curahue, commune of Castro.
  • Escuela de La estancia, La estancia, commune of Castro.

We cover other schools in the area interested in participating in experiences linked to environmental care through activities of shorter duration.

We carry out various educational activities for adult audiences, designed and oriented mainly to the inhabitants of the regions of Los Lagos (Province of Chiloé and the commune of Chaitén) and Aysén (communes of Cisnes and las Guaitecas). For more information about these activities, go to the link with the environment section.

Educational Programs

The Cetaceans of Northern Patagonia program was born to address one of the main threats to the first Conservation Object of the Strategic Conservation Plan of the Melimoyu Natural Reserve: the blue whale (and the entire ecosystem that surrounds it), threatened in part by its lack of appreciation by society. The main goal of this educational program is to promote interest in the marine ecosystem through a basic understanding of the biology of cetaceans and environmental responsibility through the identification and prevention of actions that affect these marine mammals.

For this purpose, various activities are carried out, such as telling of the story “Bailahuén, the Voice of the Southern Whales”, workshops and didactic activities that address physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive aspects.

The program Cetaceans of Northern Patagonia is divided into two cycles, and each one has three educational units. The first cycle focuses on the main physiological characteristics of cetaceans, threats that affect them such as collision with vessels, acoustic and physical pollution, among others, as well as the identification of the most common species in the area. The second cycle reinforces and complements the topics addressed in the previous cycle. It goes more in depth on the behaviors of migration, food and communication; and additionally, shares keys to interpret and understand the behavior of cetaceans during their sighting and to identify signs of disturbance.

The Patagonian Water is an educational program that seeks to highlight the importance of freshwater systems and the presence of water in all its forms in the environment.

This program consists of two cycles, with four educational units each. The first cycle aims to boost interest in freshwater systems through the basic understanding of its functional dynamics (glaciers, rivers, lakes, wetlands and fjords), water and its importance for life, basic ecology concepts, and to present the first threats such as invasive species and climate change.

The second cycle reinforces contents of the first cycle and calls to assume environmental responsibility through daily actions. In addition, it seeks to identify and prevent latent threats to freshwater systems (such as water pollution in all its forms, the effects of deforestation, among others), and the roles of the flora and fauna present in these ecosystems.

The environmental education program associated with the Cypress of the Guaitecas is under development. As in the programs described above, two cycles are planned: the first aimed at promoting interest in the cypress of the Guaitecas, its associations and the ecosystems that host it; and a second cycle focused on the application of good environmental practices.

Both stages consider the design of didactic activities, educational material and visits to rural schools with a high vulnerability index. If you want to collaborate in the elaboration of this program through your thesis or professional practice, write to us at info@fundacionmeri.cl.

The Navigators’ Camp is an environmental education program carried out once a year, for three days and two nights in the Melimoyu Nature Reserve, aimed at students from 5th to 8th grade in the regions of Aysén and Los Lagos.

The objective of this program is to awaken a sense of eco-systemic belonging, based on the appreciation of the natural environment and its different components. From the narrative of an explorer, comprehensive learning awakens the scientific observer and reconnects them with the environment they inhabit, in emotional and natural contexts where the bonds between people are strengthened.

All the activities are developed with the methodological and logistical support of the MERI Foundation professionals and scientists, who are facilitators to generate a comprehensive learning experience, where different activities stimulate curiosity and activate the senses, stimulating the scientific observer within all of us and reconnecting us with the environment we inhabit and its natural and cultural history.

In order to select the participants, each year the MERI Foundation invites students from the second cycle of primary education in the communes of Chaitén, Quellón, Cisnes and Las Guaitecas (Los Lagos Region and Aysén Region, respectively) to participate in a scientific school contest. This contest seeks to promote the scientific vocation among primary school children of the localities surrounding the Melimoyu Nature Reserve, stimulating interest in research, awakening at an early age the value of the scientific development, ecosystems, indigenous peoples and cultural identity of the area, and promoting commitment for its conservation. For more information about the contest and how to apply, request the criteria at info@fundacionmeri.cl.

The Chono were a nomadic canoe people of the channels of the Chiloé Archipelago in the Los Lagos Region and the Archipelago of the Guaitecas in the Aysén Region. The knowledge gathered about this culture is integrated transversally in the other environmental education programs of the MERI Foundation.

Among the activities that promote the appreciation of the Chono people, is an itinerant shadow theater, which through participatory drama and imagination, invites the participants to be part of the story by asking them to relive the Chono culture and recognize the ancestral knowledge that is put into practice through traditional customs and trades of the southern territory.