Organizacíon para la Educación y Protección Ambiental (Colombia)
Organization for Environmental Education and Protection Corporation (501c3-USA)
Colombia & US
Grade Level of Students Participating
Grades 4-12 (programs also available for university students and educators)
Number of Students Participating per Year
Between 2,000-10,000 an average year depending on the programs being implemented
Around 100,000 served directly since 1998
Year Organization Began
Relationship to the public education system
Works with and independently of public education systems.
OpEpa’s curriculum design and execution integrates outdoor education into public education programs.
Alternative non-formal education is also offered to children as a complement to school education
Organization’s Vision and Mission
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’s mission is to reconnect children and youth with the Earth so that they act in an environmentally sustainable manner. Students’ educational experiences integrate ecological, social, Earth so that they act in an environmentally sustainable manner. Students’ educational experiences integrate ecological, social, empathy. Through this reconnection, children and youth may become agents in reducing environmental degradation and promoting a more sustainable generation of decision makers.
Brief Description of Program Activities
OpEPA runs a large variety of programs including outdoor/wilderness education, leadership education, educator capacity building and communication for conservation.
In Workshops and Academic Activities, students learn about biodiversity, adaptation, wildlife, and natural resource management. In addition, the program incorporates activities of interest related to school curriculum subjects as natural and social sciences. Through these activities, OpEpa seeks to create an experience that allows students to have a better understanding of concepts worked during the school year and the field program.
The number of instructional hours varies by program. For example, leadership programs involve at least 3 months to a year of project-based work and implementation. This can total up to 60-80 hours of afterschool instruction. Examples of projects include improvement of waste management systems or revitalizing public spaces (ex: making slum areas look nicer for the residents).
Program Content: Intrapersonal Competencies
Autonomy, self-determination, empowerment, sense of place, individual efficacy as a change maker, self-leadership, perseverance, patience.
Program Content: Interpersonal Competencies
Cooperative and collaborative activities. Students have the opportunity to work together to solve different challenges and activities, focused toward processes solidifying the learning community.
Empathic capacity, leadership, collaboration, cooperation, teamwork, collective action, interdependence in interactions, conflict resolution.
Program Content: Cognitive Competencies
Interpretation, analysis of causality, intellectual curiosity, decision making, adaptive learning, problem solving
Program Content: Attitudes and Values
Sense of ownership over future, autonomy, self-determination, connection with nature.
OpEpa seeks to build knowledge in its students of the organizational principles of civil society organizations, and an understanding of how to work as a team, understand environmental issues on the local and national level, analyze and prioritize problems with communities and be able to work with the resources available to create priority tables of problems that can be solved.
Program Content: Pedagogy/ Active Engagement of Students
The education for all programs is based on inquiry-based, experiential learning in which students have personal experiences outdoors or undertake personal leadership actions. They break down and understand the experience and then extrapolate it to their local reality. These experiences, linked with a connection to the surrounding environment, allow for greater understanding of the environment and the role of each individual as an inhabitant of this system. The experiences integrate the development of academic knowledge, social skills, and outdoor/technical skills in order to promote environmental empathy and start the conversation on the significance of building peaceful and sustainable communities.