Congratulations to Johanna Vega on being selected as PEN's August Educator of the Month! Special thanks to Rosamira Guillen for her nomination and blog submission.
Johanna Vega is Proyecto Tití's Head of Education. Johanna holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Education from Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia. She got involved with Proyecto Tití in 2010 to lead the implementation of our conservation education program, CARTITILLA. The origin of the program name came from the word cartilla, which means booklet in Spanish, and titi, which means cotton-top tamarin. This program is targeted for 7th to 9th grade high school students living in rural areas in close proximity to the forest where cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) are found in northern Colombia.
Johanna's enthusiasm and leadership skills have been key to the successful development and implementation of the CARTITILLA program, which focuses on increasing knowledge about this endemic species, its threats, and the potential solutions to guarantee its long-term conservation.
She says, "Teaching people about primates is critical to inspire appreciation in and respect for these species, and to help them understand their importance in our lives, so we can all live together in harmony with nature."
Johanna's passion for teaching teenagers has been very valuable in motivating young individuals in these rural communities to take action in protecting their natural resources. Our Titi Club activities, including visits to our cotton-top field site, have inspired them to become environmental leaders in their own communities.
Johanna adds, "I truly enjoy seeing the spark in these children's eyes when they learn that cotton-top tamarins only live in this small region of Colombia. We know that we are instilling pride in them about the richness of Colombia’s biodiversity, particularly in our region. My biggest reward is when the children come to us with ideas to help protect this cute little monkey. The potential is immense."
Johanna's analytical skills have also been very helpful in the implementation of evaluation tools to measure the impact of Proyecto Tití's education programs. She leads a team of three education assistants, who share her passion and motivation for teaching children about cotton-tops and their forest habitat.
"We were very happy to learn about PEN and to be a part of this network. We think PEN is a great opportunity to share what we have learned, our accomplishments and challenges, and also to learn from others working in primate education around the world."
This blog post was written by Rosamira Guillen, Proyecto Tití's Executive Director. Rosamira oversees the field-based staff, leads program design, implementation, and evaluation, strategic planning, fundraising, and administrative oversight of the organization’s operations.