For several years, IOI has been working in Galapagos with a focus group of families participating in our social development program. To be part of the program, family members must attend training and social participation workshops in the areas of Education, Personal/Family Development, and Conservation

Participation in the cultural exchange program is designed to provide families with the tools and skills they need to manage personal and professional challenges in a way that empowers them to effectively handle daily life difficulties, and improve the wellbeing of all members of the family. Additionally, members of this program have the opportunity to participate in our cultural exchange program, hosting our students and volunteers. This empowers the women to be an income provider in their household. 

These social support strategies are designed to alleviate immediate daily burdens, and are rooted in our broader conservation approach. When people are given the power to prosper personally and economically, they are more available to creating the mental and emotional space needed to care about the greater needs of their community and environment – thus, creating stewardship. 
Consider, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: if a person’s deficiency needs (basic needs) are not met, there is no way to address the growth needs (and needs of others, such as the environment), and these growth qualities are the ones that help people develop a conservation mindset.

Our deliberate, hands-on approach to social development provides a clear, essential basis for environmental stewardship, and plays a key role in empowering local communities.