Contribution to this site began with a few students. They were participating in entrepreneurial conservation projects and wanted to document their experiences and observations. The objective for this documentation was simple: to get fellow students interested in participating in these initiatives. Like Tom Sawyer’s approach to getting the fence painted, without the cheekiness but with every intent to enlarge the work party.
As per the law of unintended consequences, in addition to students a wide variety of others have followed the example of the early contributors. First, a group of older social entrepreneurs responded to the request of the students and started sharing their experiences. Then a teenaged photographer of Indian dragon flies shared his craft, as did a 20-something photographer of the Patagonian Expedition Race, a 50-something princely photographer of birds, and so on.
We have welcomed naturalist guides, semi-permanent travelers, vagabond volunteers and others to contribute when they have something to say that helps us illustrate entrepreneurial conservation–why it is needed, how it is done, what goes wrong, what goes right…
In addition to the contributors themselves, thanks to the places where contributors have been hosted: Morgan’s Rock in Nicaragua, Xandari Resorts in Alajuela, Costa Rica, Cardamom County and Spice Harbour in Kerala, India.
These photos and biographies are snapshots into the period of time that these people were contributors. It is possible that some of them may have moved on since writing their bio, but the bio is a description of their lives while they were writing. You can click on their picture to be taken to their work.
Aby Thomas I started work recently, responsible for managing human resources at Cardamom County. It has been my dream to become a manager in the hotel field since I was young, and I am beginning to fulfill that dream. I completed my Masters in Hospitality Management(MMH) from Marian College Kuttikkanam, a near by hill station.My family home is at a place called Vandiperiyar, 12 km away from where I work, and I can recommend anyone to visit this part of Kerala.
Adrien de Bontin I am joining Raxa Collective’s creative communications here at the request of La Paz Group, for which I have worked in the past—I have no doubt this will stretch me in new and interesting ways just as my last round of work with that team did. Having enjoyed the posts of the other contributors here, I should note that I am neither in Nicaragua, nor India; nor am I an intern. But my goals are aligned with the goals of this site. I am glad to be part of a diverse team.
Allegra Marzarte I’m a Paris-based TV researcher and I’m working on my first documentary as a film-maker, a history of the throw-away society. I graduated from La Sorbonne in History, worked two years on sets and productions in London then came back to La Sorbonne where I got an MA in Literature applied to film, radio and television. I am fascinated with paradigms and paradoxes.
Amie Inman I have been working on these entrepreneurial conservation tourism initiatives for the last 15 years. My contributions normally center on aesthetic and culinary matters, but I pitch in wherever I can. I have been keeping a journal the entire time and plan to post entries on this site from our current work in India, but also from past projects in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Patagonia, the Elafiti Islands and on occasion even Paris for good measure.
Ben Barkley My name is Ben and I am a freshman at Cornell University. I was born in Basking Ridge, New Jersey where I now live with my mom, my dad, my sister, and two very hungry cats. I enjoy traveling with my family and I love the New York Yankees, but my real passion is birding! I have been all over North America and to several places around the world looking for new and interesting birds to add to my life list! I just finished up a class in Kenya where I saw so many amazing birds including Ostrich, Secretary Bird, and Kori Bustard! Who knows what adventure will be next?
Brian Magnier I am a Biology major with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution at Cornell University. I like birding, nature photography, and basically anything active outdoors.
Brinda Suresh I am a hobby wildlife photographer from Bangalore, India. My interest is mainly in Bird Photography, however, recently I have been enjoying photographing tigers in India.
Carl Zainaldin I am a third year student at Emory University, currently studying Tibetan Buddhism and Culture in Dharamsala, India. This is my first time in India, and I look forward to sharing some of my experiences here with all of you!
Chi-Chi Lin An architecture student at Cornell University who likes to run (just finished her 51st race recently- Rome Marathon 2012), travel, and learn new languages.
CJ Fonzi CJ Fonzi holds an MBA in Sustainable Global Enterprise from Cornell’s Johnson School. He has lived and worked globally, including 2 years spent in India with the Clinton Foundation. CJ is now a Manager at the Global Impact Investing Network in New York.
Crist Inman While working on my Ph.D. at Cornell University in 1995, I presented my research in Costa Rica. That led me out of my academic career path and into the work I have done ever since. At Raxa Collective we call it entrepreneurial conservation.
Daniela Benavides Working for the balance and health of nature brought me to understand the importance of nature in the balance and health of communities. The great gap between the two inspired me to establish conCIENCIA, a nature-based education design program. We build environmental identity in fishing villages across Peru through nature-based integrated learning guided by play, creativity, curiosity and the senses. As First Mermaid in conCIENCIA, I work with an amazing group of artists and scientist, to connect coastal children to the natural wonderland, since 2010.
David S. Poritz I am a Brown University senior with nine years of experience working to promote environmentally and socially responsible oil and gas exploration and` production practices within the Amazon basin. I’ve served as a client for the Yale Law School Environmental Protection Clinic, where I oversaw the development of a Pollution Prevention, Remediation and Environmental Restoration Statute for the Republic of Ecuador. I am a recipient of both the Henry David Thoreau and Harry S. Truman Scholarships.
Denzel Johnson I am a student from England currently travelling the Americas on a scholarship from the Royal Geographic Society. My interests come from a geographic point of view aimed at understanding different cultures and what their place is in the modern world.
Douglas Bruce I am from Ghana and am focused on conservation tourism and the natural world.
Dr. Eash Hoskote As a professional, I am a dedicated person for the well being of my children (patients) & I enjoy being with them. I would be eternally associated with children in any possible way.The Joy of being with children,their innocence, smile , inconsolable cry, their dreams make me relive their life everyday & thus can come of my age & completely submerge myself in their world. The main act of communication between children & their parents is what we do as professionals other then prescribing medicines & vaccinating them for their future. Apart from being a medical professional, the closest to my heart & day to day life is photography, animals, nature & wildlife. The photography bug which has initiated this interest in wildlife has really made me closer to animals, where I can use my expertise to get closer to the insights of these animals & their behavior.
Emma Frisch My friend Clara put it best: I am an agrarian-climbing-outdoors revivalist who loves food, travel, and people. I find ways to combine these interests in a harmony of true praxis.
Eric Ricaurte Eric is a hospitality and tourism consultant. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration from Cornell University, is currently pursuing his Masters in Travel and Tourism Management from New York University, and is the author of the novel The Costa Rican Dream. In addition to his native English and Spanish, he speaks Portuguese fluently and is conversant in French.
Evan Barrientos I’m an undergrad student studying Natural Resources at Cornell University. I’m most interested in youth environmental education, sustainable development, and conservation biology. I am also a photographer and budding videographer, and I use these skills to promote conservation in any way I can. I also recognize the value of written word, and share stories of conservation through blogging here.
Fabián Avellán I began work at Morgan’s Rock as a carpenter but I wanted to share my love of nature with others, so I learned English and began to interact with guests as a tour guide.
George M. George I am a director of Muthoot Group, based in Kerala, India. We began investing in hotels a decade back, and I took responsibility for managing those investments. We recently contracted Raxa Collective to operate Cardamom County, River Escapes and Pampa Villa; they are also responsible for developing new conservation resorts for us at Marari Beach and Panangad. Most importantly they are responsible for continuing and strengthening our longstanding commitment to conservation and sustainable development. Now I will have plenty of time to contribute here.
Gourvjit Toor I am currently a junior at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. This summer I worked at the Cardamom County in Kumily within the Idukki District of Kerala, India. I am very interested in eco-efficiency and the use of renewable, recyclable, and sustainable energy, power, water, and resources. I hope to spread the initiatives and awareness of ecotourism that are being practiced here in Kerala with the preservation and protection of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, while at the same time working hands on as an guest relations and operations intern.
James Zainaldin I graduated from Emory in 2014 having studied classics and philosophy. I am starting a PhD in classics at Harvard in the fall, but am spending the summer at Xandari (Alajuela, Costa Rica).
Jason Chen Working in the networking industry, Enjoy wildlife and nature photography.
Jonathon Spada Working in the networking industry, Enjoy wildlife and nature photography.
Justin Proctor I am a graduate student with the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, USA. I am beginning a career path into international conservation and look forward to making a strong impact in the Dominican Republic. It’s incredibly exciting to be investigating such an unknown passerine. I have worked with many other species of Tachycineta swallows, but none this vulnerable. It is with great care and extensive planning that we will approach this study on the Golden Swallow with hopes of immediate and long term success. Furthermore, I want to take this opportunity to bridge a strong connection between community and science, especially at a local level. It is critical that new information becomes education, and then applied to preservation.
Katrina Lee I recently graduated from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration with a minor in Urban and Regional Studies. I was born within a Chinese-American family in New York City and raised in Princeton, New Jersey (I’m a suburban girl with urban roots). I have worked in the hospitality industry for the past seven years in various capacities around the world, including New York, San Diego, Kenya, Bangladesh, and now South Sudan. I love to travel, and I’m passionate about sustainable international development.
Kayleigh Levitt I am currently a Junior at Soka University of America in Southern California. My major is in Environmental Studies with a focus in urban sustainability. I am an avid gardener and biophiliac. I believe in the transformative power of community.
Kendra Barnett I am a recent graduate of Cornell University. During my college I had the opportunity to study Hotel and Hospitality Administration as well as participate in many campus associations such as Orientation and Hotel Ezra Cornell. I am currently working in an internship with Raxa Collective in the South of India.
Lindsay Wilner I am a 2011 dual MBA/MA graduate from the Tuck School of Business and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where I specialized in Energy, Resources, and the Environment. An enthusiast of conservation tourism, I worked with Raxa Collective on their branding and conservation strategy as a student at Tuck. Previously, I spent a year in Argentina conducting ecotourism market research and I am currently a management consultant at Bain & Company in Boston.
Martin Bawden I am a rising senior at Hamilton College and my expected majors are in Economics and Psychology. My favorite hobby is squash, and I currently play for my school team.
Martin Smith A guilty dreamer, I’m pursuing my passion for helping to share exquisite destinations while enriching the lives of everyone that experiences them. This “pursuit of (shared) happiness” is inspired by a number of experiences, the most recent of which is completing an MBA in Hospitality Management from ESSEC Business School in Paris.
Matthias Jost I am currently on a multi-year journey around the world. Most recently a resident of Moscow, Russia for four years, but of Swiss origin, my goal here is to share snapshots of my experiences in new cultures.
Meg Chatham I am currently a junior at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration aiming to minor in Real Estate. I am passionate about hospitality and sustainability, and I love it when the two are united, hence, my gratitude for Raxa. My interests are numerous, and I am always eager for new experiences. Holistically, I approach life and sustainability, and my posts will reflect a variety of topics linking sustainability, hospitable service, health, and many wonderfully, unique individuals. I look forward my future endeavors and sharing them along my way.
Meg Lowman Nicknamed the “real-life Lorax” by National Geographic and “Einstein of the treetops” by Wall Street Journal, Meg Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology. For over 30 years, she has designed hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration to solve mysteries in the world’s forests, especially insect pests and ecosystem health. Meg is affectionately called the mother of canopy research as one of the first scientists to explore this eighth continent. She relentlessly works to map the canopy for biodiversity and to champion forest conservation around the world. Her international network and passion for science have led her into leadership roles where she seeks best practices to solve environmental challenges.
Megan Madill As a language student, I’ve had a great host of opportunities for travel, discovery and adventure. I’m from Scotland, live in France, study French and Spanish, mostly understand Portuguese and speak a lot of English with an American accent. I spent five months of last year volunteering in Central America, where my job consisted mainly of conducting a marketing workshop for local women who make and sell traditional crafts as their main source of income. In the near future I’ll be finishing up my MA (Hons) in Edinburgh, and then, who knows?
Michael Muller I’m an Amherst College senior, spending this summer in Kumily, India and living at Cardamom County Resort on the border of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, where I’m working on partner-projects between the resort, the local community and the Forest Dept.
Nicole Kravec Perpetually curious about the nexus between genuine environmental conservation, community wellbeing and tourism, Nicole has worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) World Heritage Centre’s Sustainable Tourism Programme, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Harvard Business School and the Campi ya Kanzi community eco-lodge in Kenya. She has lived in/visited 6 continents and attended Cornell University and The Fletcher School of International Affairs.
Phil Karp In my day job, I’m a Knowledge Management Specialist at the World Bank. I’ve also had a lifelong interest in the natural world, particularly tropical marine and forest ecosystems.
Raina Mirabueno My passion is for equitable design for people and the land. I am working towards a Masters of Landscape Architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. I hold bachelors degrees of Environmental Design and Music Performance.
Rajashree Varma What about me? I am a daughter first, a mother next, not a wife unfortunately. I am not a professional writer and neither do I have any writing skills. You will probably find notes on what interests me, that’s about it. Hope you have fun reading those. Cheers!
Raxa Collective Raxa Collective was started to facilitate collaboration among those who participate in and communicate about entrepreneurial conservation projects. The objective is to highlight and explain unique private sector initiatives in developing economies; to provide creative personal accounts of exploring the cultural and natural environments where these initiatives operate, illustrated with photography, video, music and links to supporting relevant media; to inform about these efforts and encourage travel to these places to further strengthen the resorts’ commitment of resources to these initiatives. Welcome!
Reyna Oleas Reyna is an Ecuadorian ecologist with academic preparation at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, University of North Carolina in the USA, and INCAE in Costa Rica. She lives in the Galapagos Islands and works as an independent consultant in more than 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. She founded the National Environmental Fund in Ecuador, endowed with more than US$25 million, and she serves as the Executive Director of the Scalesia Foundation, an NGO devoted to education in the Islands (www.fundacionscalesia.com).
Robert Frisch I spent the last four years living in Nicaragua where I was a peace corps volunteer and the founder of a boutique hostel in the northern city of Matagalpa. I am currently pursuing an MBA in Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell, and I am elated to have found this community where I can combine my passions for entrepreneurship and sustainable hospitality.
Roberto Plaza Roberto is an Ecuadorian Naturalist. He completed his studies at the Polytechnic School in Guayaquil and at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica were he obtained a degree in Ecology and Sustainable Development. He lives in the Galapagos Islands were he has been a naturalist guide since the 1990s. He has contributed to the sustainable development of the Galapagos National Park through tourism management planning, and establishing carrying capacity guidelines for tourism in the park. His passions include nature, photography and music.
Salim E. I. My present role with Raxa Collective is the Environment Resource Manager at Cardamom County. I have 15 years experience in the hospitality field, and I love having the opportunity to share my passion for nature and forest related activities.
Selvaraj Kizhakkedath My name is Selvaraj. I am from Chottanikkara Kerala, I have a brown belt in Mansuria Kung fu and I love animals.
Seth Inman I am currently a senior at Cornell University’s College of Arts & Sciences, interested in the co-evolution of public and private sector approaches to conservation across cultures. I’ve spent recent summers working on private sector conservation initiatives in India, Jordan, Chile, Nicaragua, and the Galápagos. I am using this experience, combined with archival research on 19th century travel in Iceland and previous coursework, to prepare for an honors history thesis.
Shailee Shah I’m an almost college graduate in Biology and English from Cornell University. I am interested in wildlife conservation, animal behaviour and science communication, particularly with birds. I enjoy blogging, photography and filmmaking and hope to turn it into a career!
Siobhan Powers I am from a small island in southern New Jersey but have spent the past four years in Ithaca, NY attending Cornell University. I have a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Engineering and will be going back to Cornell in the fall to get my Master’s in Engineering in the same subject with a particular focus on water processes. I like hiking and going to the beach. Indoors, I enjoy reading books and watching movies and baseball ( go Yankees!).
Srinivasa Addepalli Taking tentative steps into the fascinating world of nature & wildlife photography. Live in Mumbai, love exploring new geographies, cultures and landscapes.
Sung Ho Paik My name is Sung Ho Paik and some of you might know that a name divided into three parts like that indicates that I am an Asian. I am in fact a Korean. Until I went to the U.S.A. for my high school education, I lived in Korea with my family. I am currently a rising senior at Cornell University studying Hotel management–specifically a Managerial Leadership concentration and Real Estate minor.
Sunnie Park I’m a pure Korean descendant studying Hospitality and Real Estate at the Cornell Hotel School. I have a broad range of interests that led me to join Raxa’s great team of passionate leaders of sustainability industry. My main interests are hospitality operations (mostly Food&Beverage), entrepreneurship, construction/project management, sustainable development, interior design, and real estate. Thus, I plan to blog about various topics regarding eco-tourism that randomly come up to me this summer. So, I hope you are ready to be diversificated!
Timothy Chen I am a graduate from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. My primary area of interest is in sustainable hospitality, and most of my past experience relates to sustainability research. As such, you’ll likely find that the majority of my posts lean toward the corporate, quantitative, research-y side of things. I am excited to be working with a group of talented students, employees, and managers in order to spread awareness about eco-tourism.
Virginia Carabelli Eco Peace Solutions with emphasis on Straw Bales Building – Artist – Contemplator “Don’t think, don’t make effort. In between the two is the diamond” Papaji – Sri Hariwansh Lal Poonja