In the lead up to The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), Counterpart profiles Andreina Valdez, a participant and benefactor of our work to address the affects of climate change in the Dominican Republic.
Andreina Valdez always loved nature, but when her high school biology teacher introduced her to the wonders of the ocean, it sparked a curiosity. After seeking out National Geographic documentaries and watching films by Jacques Cousteau, “my love for the ocean and all the life in it began to grow,” she says.
Valdez was trained to be a Near Peer Mentor (NPM) in our Coastal Climate Resiliency Program (CCRP) as a volunteer during her university studies. The NPM activity places older, more experienced mentors with younger students in the Dominican Environmental Education Program (DEEP). She is proud of her work as the science coordinator for the New Horizons school, saying it enabled her to share her love of the ocean with young students who now understand the importance of conservation.
“I loved going to my assigned school and seeing the excitement of the students when you explained a new topic or a new methodology they could use,” she said. “Also, how much fun they had doing citizen science on field trips and presenting results at DEEP Day.”
Not only did Valdez’s work with DEEP benefit her students, the NPM training allowed her to work with the very marine conservation institutions she long admired. She also learned how to manage student groups and became a better science communicator.
Valdez explains that the DEEP program reaches a diverse group of students and brings to their education an awareness and appreciation of their environment that will have lasting impact. “It’s an opportunity that I would have loved to have at my school,” she said.
Valdez, 29, is currently the Coordinator of the Marine Biodiversity Programs at the Dominican Foundation for Marine Studies.
See also our profile on Daniel Veras.
Read more about our work in the Dominican Republic: