OpEPA is a Colombian non-profit organization, whose mission is to reconnect children and youth with the Earth so that they act in an environmentally sustainable manner. Through this reconnection, children and youth may become agents in reducing environmental degradation and promoting a more sustainable generation of decision makers.
Our educational experiences integrate ecological, social, economic, and cultural aspects, producing attitudes and actions directed to preserve the environment. By means of specific projects and campaigns, OpEPA hopes to act as a catalyst in each individual and increase environmental conscience. OpEPA aims to promote a better understanding and enjoyment of the cultural, ethnic and natural diversity of our world, and to create an awareness of the necessity of preserving this diversity.
OpEPA has worked extensively in outdoor education programs for the past 9 years. More than 20,000 students have participated in outdoor and classroom programs in a variety of educational programs for schools focused on academic and social objectives. Students are engaged in a life experience that teaches them about the environment and themselves through adventure and direct contact with nature and the outdoors. Each program is designed based on pre-defined objectives, regional location and age groups.
Capacity Building and Community Empowerment
We seek to promote environmental leadership and action within children and youth so that they can become agents of change in their communities and be able to make responsible decisions regarding the environment. We are the national promoters of Ecoclubes® International in Colombia. These clubs are conformed by children and youth around the country and strive to accomplish the general mission of improving the quality of life of their community through environmental leadership and public participation. We have founded 20 ecoclubs around the country since 2006 and monitor their activities year around.
Communication for Conservation
We promote individual responsibility in our acts aimed at conserving the planet as well as generating greater awareness about nature. We do this through action campaigns, awareness projects, promotion of academic and artistic encounters and the publication of information and tools. We have led several climate change rallies in Colombia and our latest was in Boulder, Colorado in December 2008. Our most recent communication effort is directed at reducing cocaine consumption in the United States through educational lectures and conferences.
We provide consulting services and technical expertise training in wilderness medicine, outdoor skills, risk management, environmental issues, and environmental education among other fields.
OpEPA believes that by following a strong set of values we can foster a positive and safe learning environment (physical and emotional) as well as generate the most effective learning experiences. With this in mind we have established the following values:
• OpEPA believes in respect as a fundamental value to generate honesty and tolerance, improving community life.
• OpEPA believes in honesty and transparency of actions.
• OpEPA believes in man as an integral part of nature, belonging to its systems and cycles.
• OpEPA believes that education is the best tool to create spaces for questioning which generate changes in attitudes.
• OpEPA believes in the existence of development alternatives, which will bring better life quality for the present and future generations of all living things on Earth.
• OpEPA believes that each individual has to be accountable for his actions and aware of the effects these have.
• OpEPA believes in non-violence and positive action.
Our instructors are experienced professionals specialized in outdoor activities and education. All of our instructors have training in first aid under the standards of the Wilderness Medicine Institute (leading wilderness medicine training organization in the US - http://wmi.nols.edu). At least one instructor (the group leaders) for this program is Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (holding valid US National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certificates). Each course has an interdisciplinary group of instructors, most of them with international training and certificates.
Our instructors are professionals in the natural and/or social sciences with substantial outdoor experience and:
• Extensive teaching, group management, and outdoor education experience.
• Professional experience in the environmental field, field research and conservation.
• Professional experience as experiential educators with ongoing programs.
• Outdoor education experience certified by the National Outdoor Leadership School (WY, USA). Several of our instructors work or have worked for NOLS.
• Certified as Leave No Trace Master Trainers by Leave No Trace Inc. and the National Outdoor Leadership School.
• Training in Intermediate to advanced first aid certified by the Colombian Red Cross or the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS (Wilderness First Responder -WFR o Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician -WEMT).
• Some of our instructors have Bachelor degrees and Graduate degrees from recognized US universities such as the University of Pennsylvania and Lehigh University.