We are committed to empowering biocultural leaders.

Our Mission

Earth Train is dedicated to promoting biocultural renewal—that is the practice of creating sustainable communities and institutions in harmony with nature and enriched with biological and cultural diversity.

Earth Train accomplishes its mission through:

  • Peer-to-peer teaching
  • Peer-to-peer networking
  • Cross-cultural and cross-generational coaching and mentoring
  • Experiential learning
  • Creating learning organizations
  • Cultivating biocultural business

Our Vision

A world where human values, enterprise and habitat are in harmony with nature.

Recent News

Crossroads 2015 - Building on Success for Biocultural Leadership

With the last ecos of the 2015 Panama Jazz Festival fading away, we step back to get a bigger perspective on another very successful visit from the Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences from Los Angeles, CA. This was Crossroads' third time to Panama and the Mamoní Valley Preserve, and we even had the pleasure of receiving several students who had attended last year's trip.

This year's curriculum began with a stay at Earth Train's Centro Mamoní, then included a city program to complement the students' experiences at the Panama Jazz Festival. We leveraged our time in the city to analyze the enormous changes—both positive and negative—that Panama is experiencing, and we took the kids on an intellectual journey through the contrasts between what they had experienced in the Mamoní Valley Preserve and what they were seeing in Panama's rapidly expanding urban sphere.

Here, a photo recap of the students' adventures in Panama:

A Gray Christmas

Happy holidays from Earth Train! This holiday season we’re grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the escape, serenity and natural beauty that Centro Mamoní provides. We celebrated by building a tent on our newly constructed platform (Gracias, Rolando!), eating together, and lighting our tree in the main house.

We had a number of visitors, including one of our neighbor’s horses, blue morpho and owl butterflies, many emerald hummingbirds, a series of beautiful moths, a yellow-striped poison frog (Phyllobates lugubris), a red-breasted trogon, a green vine snake, and a Bothrops viper (known locally by its ominous moniker, X). Check out our gallery of images.

So again: happy holidays and New Year from our family to yours!

Earth Train Intern Cameron Harnish Writes About His River Trip to Cangandi, Guna Yala

Earth Train Intern Cameron Harnish participated in an exploratory journey from Earth Train's Centro Mamoní Campus over the continental divide and down the Cangandi river into the Guna town of Cangandi. This unique trip was organized by Earth Train Leadership and Guide Program Director, Kike Arias, to further a dialog with the Guna mainland community of Cangandi about how Earth Train can collaborate with community leaders in the development of economic and cultural opportunities.

Cameron wrote about his experiences in Cangandi and at Earth Train on his blog, Filling the Gap.

Earth Train in La Zahina to Help Facilitate a Town Meeting

This Sunday we went to the rural valley community of La Zahina to work with local political voice Vicente Miranda in the formation of a Committee to agitate for the paving and regular maintenance of the road from the Panamerican Highway to the community. The road—a 22 kilometer stretch through rural Panama and a relic from the military rule of Manuel Noriega—is sorely neglected, and its poor conditions is a major hindrance to the prospects of economic development in the valley, leaving residents of La Zahina and other valley communities with few options other than subsistence farming.

Earth Train has been working with valley communities, and La Zahina in particular, to promote community and political organization, with hopes that increased structure will create not only stronger relationships between community members, but also increased chances of joining the political process down in the bustling urban sphere.

With the formation of this committee, democratically elected community representatives will be able to hold regular meetings with representatives in the regional capital, Chepo, and will be able to track progress on their requests for a paved road to their community.

Earth Train staff Gerardo Ochoa has been leading this initiative, with funds generously donated by the Alstom Corporation for community engagement.

Earth Train Celebrates the Official Grand Opening of Panama's Frank Gehry-Designed Biomuseo with Museum Staff and Special Guests

Earth Train founder and Executive Director Nathan Gray was invited to attend the opening ceremony.

Photo Credit: Biomuseo

Panama's Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo celebrated its official opening ceremony, with past and current Panamanian presidents in attendance along with a number of other special guests. Earth Train's Nathan Gray was invited to attend this exciting event in representation of the special programming partnership that Earth Train has with the Biomuseo.

Frank Gehry principal partner, Anand Devarajan, delivered the official commencement speech in the museum's grand Atrium. Then, the museum displayed a special video created by Earth Train in collaboration with UN Messenger of Peace, Dr. Jane Goodall, in which Dr. Goodall expresses her gratitude to Frank Gehry and the BioMuseum directors for embracing and celebrating biocultural diversity in Panama and in the world at large. Check out the video here:

Rainforest Capital in Panama for Strategy Talks with Earth Train in the Mamoní Valley Preserve

Our partners and friends from Rainforest Capital and Ceiba Forestry have just made a 10-day visit to the Mamoni Valley Preserve for a semi-annual on-site operational meeting. Rainforest Captial's Stephen Wiel joined Ceiba's Sam Larson, Matt Brewer and other staff along with Earth Train's Nathan Gray and staff for walks and talks in and about the Mamoni Valley Preserve.

Highlights from our time together include the advancements of some key friendships in the Preserve, including that of the Montesa Family, who has owned property there for over 40 years. The Montesas have taken the initiative to experiment over the past few years with a variety of potentially viable crops in the valley, including some that could help form the basis of a new and more ecologically-sustainable economy in the Valley.

We also took some time for Steve and the Ceiba crew to get to know some of the families in the town of La Zahina, deep in the middle of the Valley. We took our ultra light-weight inflatable kayaks along and had a blast with village kids for 2 hours in the river.

Toward the end of our time together, we celebrated with a pig roast, then returned to the city for a quick trip to the Biomuseo and some talks with lead architect Patrick Dillon, also an important partner in our work with City of Knowledge on the so-called "Green Steel" Biocultural Pavillion.

Earth Train and the Alstom Corporation Sign Corporate Sponsorship Agreement

Earth Train founder Nathan Gray signs a corporate sponsorship agreement with an Alstom representative.

Earth Train founder Nathan Gray signs a corporate sponsorship agreement with Alstom Panama Country President Guillaume Bidan.

Photo: Atala Beckford, Earth Train

Earth Train has officially signed a corporate sponsorship agreement with the Alstom Corporation, the Paris-based global engineering firm responsible for the execution of the first two Metro lines in Panama.

Earth Train submitted a proposal for the Alstom grant earlier this year, and was selected as the sole recipient in the Americas of the Alstom Foundation's funds. The Alstom funds are earmarked for the following projects and improvements:

  • Development of management and training team at Centro Mamoní
  • Infrastructural improvements at Centro Mamoni, including upgraded housing facilities for the reception of special guests
  • The launch of our Leadership and Guide program, including funding for our Program Director Kike Arias as well as five Leadership and Guide Fellows selected from among a pool of applicants
  • Advancements on our Wildlife Conservation Center&endash;a collaboration with the Houston Zoo

Thank you Alstom team for the help and support in securing these important funds, and we look forward to sharing the results with the world!

The First Mamoní Pool Party: Thank You Hubbard Family Swim School!!

In the warm, late-afternoon sun in the Mamoni Valley, Earth Train staff, volunteers, and children from San José de Madroño had their first dip in Earth Train's recently finished regulation-size swimming pool. Seven kids and a few adult chaperones—including San José's primary school teacher, Marcelino—joined the Diaz-Gray family, Mark Knetsch and volunteers Margaret Haltom and Brian Lester as they splashed in the cool mountain waters.

The party was a blast, and we'd like to thank everyone who made it possible. Our deepest gratitude goes to the Hubbard Family Swim School, whose generous donation made this pool a reality. Thanks also to Rolando Toribio for his leadership, and Panamanian contractor Bienvenido and his team of workers who built the pool piece by piece from the ground up. Thanks to the many hands that helped along the way, including the staff and students at the Metropolitan School of Panama; to Leandro Toribio and Gabriel Salazar for their constant attention and collaboration; to Mark Knetsch and Margaret Haltom who organized this inaugural event.

We can't wait to complete the tiling, landscaping and amenities. Until then, stay tuned for the next Centro Mamoní Pool Party Bonanza!

The Metropolitan School of Panama Comes to Centro Mamoni for Hikes and Workshops

The Metropolitan School of Panama brought 43 of its 9th and 10th graders to Earth Train's Centro Mamoni for 4 days of workshops, activities and hikes from the 26th through the 29th of March. The visit was a blast, starting with our customary visit to Junglewood falls and a day of adjusting to the facilities and the microclimate in the Valley.

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In thirty years of leading middle and high school field trips and expeditions in over a dozen countries, this was the best I've ever been on.

- Rick Hengelbrok, Principal, The MET

The following days were full of hiking adventures, waterfalls, fun and interesting workshops, a little Hard Physical Labor, good food, good music and a lot of laughs. Enjoy the photos above, and check out more on our facebook page!

This was a big visit, and we'd like to recognize and thank everyone who helped make it possible, especially our volunteers, Mike Yarek, Dereck Monette, Gerardo Ochoa and Sam Sucre. Thanks also to Catriona White, Catarina da Rosa and Leonarda for holding down the kitchen; to Atala Beckford and Delia Cedeño for logistical support and for holding down the base back in Ciudad del Saber; to Mark Knetsch, Kandi Valle, Carlos Andrés Gonzalez, Rolando Toribio, Luis Carlos Sánchez, Gabriel Salazal, Nathan Gray, Giuseppe Villalaz, Kael Shipman and the paramedics Seibert Bonilla and Alejandra Hernández for important contributions in our programming and on-site logistics; and to Rick Hengelbrok and the MET crew for being great guests and true collaborators. Great job Earth Train team, great job MET team, great job students and participants, and we look forward to more adventures in the not-so-distant future!

Richie Barshay at the Mamoní Valley Preserve

At the end of the Panama Jazz Festival, we had the pleasure of hosting world-class percussionist Richie Barshay and 5-time Grammy Award-winning sound engineer and producer Rob Griffin at the Mamoní Valley Preserve. During their visit, Richie took a moment to experiment with the sounds of nature, while Rob filmed on his iPhone.

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This video is funky, yet it succeeds in conveying Richie's spontaneous joy in composing in nature, it's a harbinger of the greatness to come out of our inventive partnership with Mother Nature, Artistic Director. And her lead partner is Rob Griffin—the co-founder of Junglewood. While he started out his impressive career in music as a guitarist, we love and welcome him as the Pied Piper of Junglewood.

- Nathan Gray, Co-Executive Directory of Earth Train