Taking action to protect local waterways is a key component of the EarthEcho Water Challenge program. This year, thanks to support from the North American Association for Environmental Education and the San Juan Bay Estuary Program (SJBEP), we had the unique opportunity to expand the reach of our EarthEcho Water Challenge Ambassadors initiative by engaging a new class of Ambassadors from Puerto Rico. Building on their ongoing water quality monitoring work, and an outstanding series of community education programs hosted in honor of World Water Monitoring Day last fall, on January 30 our Ambassadors teamed up with SJBEP to take direct action to restore their local watershed through a red mangrove restoration project.

Being part of the mangrove restoration project has been a unique and an incredible experience. It is a privilege to be part of this project because it means a lot for me to be part of the change, to better our mother nature and restore it. - Ariana Negrón, EEWC Ambassdaor

Mangroves are a critically important species for carbon sequestration, provide habitats for a variety of marine species, and help improve water quality while buffering coastal communities against the impacts of storm surge.

On January 30, our Ambassadors joined the SJBEP staff, along with representatives from the SJBEP Citizens Committee and the San Juan Municipality, at Condado Lagoon Reserve in San Juan, where they had the opportunity to learn more about the San Juan Bay Estuary ecosystem and the importance of mangroves. Together, the team planted 92 red mangrove seedlings to restore this critical estuary habitat.

I loved the mangrove restoration project. Since I started this journey in the environmental activism I had a connection with these trees. They are really beautiful and important for our ecosystems. We live in an island and these trees play a fundamental role in our coasts and biodiversity. Knowing that more young people care about our mangroves and other important ecosystems in our island makes me feel proud and with a lot of hope. - Eliudes Camps Marcano, EEWC Ambassador

In addition to their work on the EarthEcho Water Challenge, our Ambassadors’ efforts join those of our global community of youth leaders planning coastal habitat restoration projects worldwide in support of the OceanEcho 30x30 campaign.

A special thanks to our Ambassador team, the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, and the North American Association for Environmental Education for making this work possible!