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MAR Vignettes: Stories of Collaboration, Sustainability, and Community in Leadership Development

Collaborative, sustainable, and community engaged are some of the perpetual words that describe the fellows that have participated in the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership program and their projects.  Last year, LLC completed a six-month evaluation of the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program (MAR-L). And LLC is very excited to present stories from our travels meeting with fellows face-to-face on three weeks of site visit travels and working closely with MAR-L staff, funders, other supporters, and of course the unforgettable fellows and their families.


What is the MAR-L Program?

MAR-L is a leadership development program designed to support and build leadership capacities of young environmentalists from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras working to conserve the world’s second largest coral reef system in the world; the Mesoamerican reef. The program has been in existence for three rounds of leadership cohorts, with a total of 35 participants, and is now interviewing candidates for the fouth cohort. The program operates in cohorts of 10-12 fellows each year that come from a variety of backgrounds and sectors; including local tourism entrepreneurs, media professionals, government agencies, community leaders, and others- as long as their professional endeavors bear a direct connection to the health and wellbeing of the coastal/marine environment.

Stories from the Mesoamerican Reef

This month we are excited to feature the stories and faces of the MAR-L program. These three short case studies highlight the work of four MAR-L fellows. We are eager to share these stories with you because there is so much to learn from these young conservationists and their experiences working to improve the coastal marine environment along the Mesoamerican Reef.  At LLC, we are particularly interested  in the leadership program design and use of conservation projects have on the potential to contribute measurable changes that are indicators of a healthier reef. Which is why we present as examples:

1. Ana and Blanca; two women working with local fisherman and fisherwomen cooperatives to establish networks of sustainable fishing areas on the coast of Guatemala;






2. Mariela; who is working to create sustainable project to restore mangroves that were destroyed during hurricane Mitch on the Honduran Island of Guanaja;






3.Gaby; from Veracruz Mexico,  who has created a coral reef nursery in the Yucatan in Mexico.

As you will see in these remarkable stories of partnership, MAR-L fellows know  that sustainability of the coral reef depends on the active involvement of communities.  We hope that you will find these case studies both inspirational and  helpful in your leadership development work.