Mario Ardany de León Benitéz, EcoLogic’s new Program Officer for Guatemala, is passionate about helping the communities and organizations EcoLogic works with in Guatemala turn their goals and ambitions into reality.
What is your role with EcoLogic?
I am the new Program Officer for Guatemala, which means that I oversee all of EcoLogic’s projects in Guatemala, and coordinate our relationships with our local partner organizations. EcoLogic’s activities include reforestation, water conservation, agroforestry, and—most importantly, from my perspective—education and trainings to help community members and local organizations be able to do this conservation work as independently as possible. I think it’s incredibly important that EcoLogic helps give our partners on the ground the tools to conserve and manage the natural resources that they depend on.
What is your background? What were you doing before you started working with EcoLogic?
I’ve worked at several different organizations over the years. Before I joined EcoLogic, I worked for six years at Intervida Guatemala, an organization dedicated to poverty eradication and sustainable development in rural Guatemala. I focus on natural resources management, agroforestry, and environmental education. Before that, I was with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), where I worked on increasing rural communities’ resilience to natural disasters and other emergencies. I also have been teaching classes at the Rural University of Guatemala for the past eight years, on a range of subjects including forestry, rural development, and botany.
How do you think EcoLogic’s work is making a positive difference—both for the environment and in people’s lives?
The most important and inspiring part of EcoLogic’s model is the emphasis on empowering local community organizations to protect and manage their natural resources. EcoLogic works with these organizations so they can develop business plans, manage effective conservation projects, everything—the goal is always to empower local people.
What are you most excited for in your new job as Program Officer?
I’m excited to be a part of helping to strengthen all of our local partner organizations in Guatemala to become better organized and effectively trained in how to carry out their projects, and I hope to help develop better communication and effective collaboration between our field staff and our different partner organizations, so that we can all better learn from each other.
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