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Paraguay: Eco-Leadership

Students in this course co-develop an Eco-Leadership program in Paraguay with our partner, Para La Tierra.

Course Overview

Nestled in the heart of South America, Paraguay is home to habitats including the critically endangered Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest, the mysterious Ñeembucú Wetland Complex, the challenging Gran Chaco, and other rare and secluded ecosystems that have received little study and deserve far more attention. Some of Paraguay’s spectacular fauna include the charismatic and intelligent hooded capuchin monkey, endemic Pilar tuco-tuco, the black and gold howler monkey, and more than 720 species of birds. 

Environmental awareness is on the rise in Paraguay but contends with increasingly strong pressure from industrial agriculture – Paraguay is the fourth largest exporter of soy beans globally - and cattle ranching. The presence of conservation organizations in Paraguay is quite limited, and there is a critical need to better understand and to build on the traditionally close relationship between local people and the land on which they depend.

Students in this course will have the unique opportunity to co-develop an Eco-Leadership program for Paraguay, working in partnership with Fundación Para La Tierra (PLT), a nonprofit conservation organization devoted to conserving Paraguay’s natural habitats through scientific research, environmental education, and community engagement. PLT was founded in 2010 by Karina Atkinson, a GFP graduate and Dragonfly Global Conservation Fellow alumna. The entire PLT team is deeply committed to supporting the next generation of conservation and education leaders. Students will participate in PLT’s environmental education programs with Paraguayan youth from indigenous, rural and urban communities. Students will gain the diverse skills required for effective eco-leadership including 1) methods for assessing wildlife populations, 2) developing public exhibits, participatory media, and community events celebrating local biota. 3) evaluation of both educational and ecological outcomes, 4) supporting the ingenuity of local teams to foster local knowledge creation and informed environmental action.

Course Details
In-person travel dates:

July 16-25, 2023

Students arrive at least one day before and depart on last day of course
On the Web: Pre-travel preparations prior to May 15, 2023
Summer course: May 16-August 11, 2023
Fall course: Late August- early December, 2023
Credits: Summer course: 5 graduate credits

Follow-on Fall course: 2 graduate credits

All Miami University credits can be applied to the GFP or AIP (or other programs if approved)
Costs: Summer course: $3,225* + your own airfare to Asunción, Paraguay

Fall course: $790
* $3225 calculated as = $395 per credit tuition X 5 graduate credits + $1075 program fee + $175 Miami global fee

Course Themes

  • Collaborative leadership
  • Natural history of Paraguay
  • Public engagement in science
  • Inquiry and participatory education
  • Community-based conservation
  • Social and political aspect of conservation

A typical day is likely to include:

  • Study at field conservation sites
  • Team-based strategic planning and program development
  • Interactions with experienced and emerging eco-leaders of all ages
  • Student-led discussions on key course topics
  • Journal writing
  • Open inquiries

Paraguay Student Reflection:

"The more I learn about conservation and the more I travel, I have come to realize that conservation is less about plants and animals and more about people and our relationships" -Christina Thompson

Christina Thompson on an Earth Expeditions trip to Paraguay

Dragonfly Workshops Web-Based Learning Community

Upon acceptance into the program, students will join instructors and classmates in Dragonfly Workshops’ collaborative web community to complete pre-trip assignments. After returning home, students will continue to work in their web-based community through early December to develop projects initiated in the field, discuss assignments, and exchange ideas. All students should expect to spend two to three hours a week contributing to their web-based learning community from their home or school computer. Navigating the web platform is easy–it’s designed for people with no prior computer experience. To learn more about this unique web experience, visit

Planned Sites

google Earth map of Paraguay with three locations marked. A second image shows the marked locations zoomed in and labeled Asuncion, Pilar, and ProCosara in San RafaelAsunción

Students will fly into Asunción, the capital of Paraguay and a historic South American city. Here, shaded streets and local squares, where Guaraní vendors sell exquisite needlework and hand-crafted leather, exist alongside more industrial zones and upscale malls. Asunción is the transportation hub of Paraguay and a gateway to the country’s diverse biological and cultural landscapes.

San Rafael (Nueva Gambach and PRO COSARA)

Located in Eastern Paraguay, San Rafael is the country’s largest remaining fragment of the once extensive Atlantic Forest. Still under threat from agriculture development among other threats, the region is critically important for conservation in South America. This biodiversity hotspot boasts more than 430 species of bird – 60% of all the birds registered in Paraguay are found in this expansive forest reserve. Para La Tierra’s primate team studies the hooded capuchin monkey and work with several rural Paraguayan and indigenous Mbya Guaraní communities surrounding the forest.


Also known as ‘The City of Birds,’ Pilar is a quaint town on the coast of the mighty Paraguay River. Surrounded by a network of marshes, streams, and lakes, there is a deep tradition of nature appreciation in this area. Howler monkeys coexist with people in the city, using power-lines and rooftops to travel from fruit tree to fruit tree in the city’s squares and plazas. Pilar is also home to Para La Tierra’s Center for Investigation, Development, Environmental Education and Leadership (Centro IDEAL). In addition to wildlife research, the Center oversees a community-wide program that engages children in the conservation of local forest and wetland ecosystems.

2023 Costs Include:

In addition to covering the price for five graduate credits of Miami University tuition, field course costs cover all basic expenses, including:

  • Meals (incidental snacks and drinks not included)
  • Lodging
  • Field station fees
  • Course activities (optional activities are not included)
  • Ground transportation (van, boat, train, etc., as needed)
  • Park entrance and guide fees

*NOTE: The Paraguay course carries a required extra charge to cover additional course support costs.

Course costs do not cover personal expenses, such as airfare to the course, personal gifts, or ancillary costs, such as passport fees, country entry fees, required course readers, and any additional course texts.

Airfare: To estimate fares applicants may wish to visit an online fare finder or call a travel agent. Bear in mind that airlines have seasonal fluctuations in fares.

Miami University also requires all international workshop participants to purchase travel health insurance for about $40. (Successful applicants will receive more details in their web-based learning community course workshop.) In some classes an additional textbook is required. In some countries, you may have to pay entrance and departure taxes/fees at the airport.

Because of support from Miami University, the course costs listed above are a fraction of actual program costs. Earth Expeditions recommends that accepted applicants to the program check with their school district or employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs.

We offer some further ideas on Helping to Fund your Degree and Scholarships for Current Dragonfly Students

U.S. Students and Students Living Abroad

To support involvement by a broad range of professionals nationally and globally, Miami University discounts tuition for participants accepted to an Earth Expeditions graduate course. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and hold bachelor’s degrees. Upon successful completion of both the field and Web-based components of the Earth Expeditions course, participants earn seven graduate credit hours.

Students Seeking Undergraduate Credit

Undergraduate students at Miami University or elsewhere may apply for an Earth Expeditions course and earn five credits for the field component, with the option to complete two additional credits for the fall Web component. Normal Miami tuition rates apply, as do eligible summer tuition waivers and scholarships. Contact Project Dragonfly for more information.

Course Options for Miami Students

Are you a current Miami University undergrad or grad student interested in participating? Check out our Miami Students page to learn more about program requirements.

*Note that costs shown above are for graduate students only. Course costs for undergraduate students are based on each student’s tuition rate. If you have questions regarding your tuition promise rate, please contact the Bursar.


Do you have questions? Go to our Frequently Asked Questions page for some answers.

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