IOI Galapagos endemic and native garden project

(Marc Martorell – Conservation Department Coordinator)

In cooperation with the Galapagos National Park, IOI has designed and built a garden with native and endemic species of Isabela Island. The garden was built with local soil and used materials such as  volcanic rocks, and gravel for delineations of flower beds, trails, and planters.

The main objective of the project is to set an example and create an educational tool for the community.  To that extend, phase two of the project will have a community outreach component. We are using our  eco-park to serve as a model for our green city gardens project, in which our staff and volunteers are  reaching out to encourage and assist local families to establish gardens around their homes. 

Within this project, we are planting several species that are currently growing in nurseries in the  highlands via our cooperation with the Galapagos National Park. These species are chosen depending on  their ability to adapt and survive in the coastal region.

In executing the project we had the help of students from the Fray Agustin de Azkunaga Highschool  (within a project between the Ministry of Education of Ecuador and the Galapagos National Park) and  students of the University of Miami as part of their service learning projects.

The main species we are choosing for the project are:

  • 4 species of mangroves: White (Laguncularia racemosa), Jelí or botton (Conocarpus erectus), Black (Avicennia germinans), Red (Rhizophora mangle)

  • Algarrobo – Prosopia juliflora

  • Jelicillo – Dodonea viscosa

  • Rodilla de caballo – Clerodendrum molle

  • Uva de playa – Scaveola plumieri

  • Muyuyo – Cordia lutea

  • Chala – Croton scouleri

  • Pega-pega – Pisonia floribunda

  • Verdolaga – Portulaca oleracea

  • Nolana – Nolana galapagensis

  • Cactus Opuntia– Cactaceae Opuntia

  • Escalesia – Scalesia cordata

Radio Program

(Nuria Ladera – Social Development Department)

The head of our social development department, Nuria Ladera, attends to the mental and emotional wellbeing of our community. IOI proudly announces that Nuria now airs on Isabela radio with her own program “Tu voz guía” (Your Guiding Voice). The forty five to sixty minute program is produced weekly and airs on Thursday at nine in the morning and is rerun again on Tuesday mornings due to popular demand.

The program is meant for heads of families and parents at large to help them deal with common family issues and difficulties related to family life and parenting. A few common topics include: normal behaviors of children at specific ages, how to set limits and rules in the home, how to effectively communicate within the family, how to avoid drug use as well as aggressive behavior, how to build self-esteem of children and how to help them with their studies and place value on education or the importance respecting a set schedule for children (eating, sleeping, etc.).

The community is encouraged to call in making the show a highly interactive forum. The show is meant to be a form of conversation for the entire community in which they can call, text or message through Facebook to ask questions, give comments, share their own experiences, etc.Furthermore, the show receives input for topics of discussion from the public.

IOI Brings Medical Professionals to the Galapagos

From 2013 to 2017, IOI hosted a group of volunteer dentists from the University of Connecticut. This project is a cooperative effort between IOI and El Ministerio de Salud Publica on Isabela. During the week the dentists are on the island they do cleanings, extractions, fillings, x-rays – whatever needs to be done. It is a busy week. The dentist can see well over 400 patients in their short time on the island. Providing dental services is essential as residents often have to travel off island to receive dental care.


The success of the dental clinics paved the way for additional medical clinics to come to the island. Ophthalmology, another medical service that is out of reach for many residents of Isabela, is incredibly important. Ophthalmologists, in cooperation with Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, come to Isabela for one to two week long clinics to perform eye exams, and provide ocular care to those in need. In the very first ophthalmology clinic, held in June 2016, 269 patients were seen in the first week. In 2017, we set out to ensure that 100% of the population of Isabela had an opportunity to be seen by an ophthalmologist. 


These clinics are supported by the Ecuadorian Association of Ophthalmology and the impactful contribution they bring to the community are a key piece of our commitment to the social development of Isabela. 

We are working on expanding these field clinic programs to our other locations. If you would like to help us, you can donate to ioi

Support vet teams to sterilize dogs and cats

Working with our partner organizations, ABG, Darwin Animal Doctors, and NC State University, IOI offers the periodic opportunities to get dogs and cats spayed and neutered. Interventions like these are necessary to keep the population under control and minimize domestic animal impact on local flora and fauna. There are no permanent veterinarians in our host locations so the need for animal medical care is high. While here, the volunteer veterinarians also offer general care for pets, giving out parasite, flea and tick medication. 

New Soccer Field

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Recently, in agreement with the municipality of Isabela, IOI donated a synthetic grass multi-sport field valued at over $50,000 to the Jacinto Gordillo Elementary School. This, like the playground, is designed to provide a space for children to engage in sports – realistically mostly soccer) in a community setting. The field directly benefits 280 students and their families, and construction was finished in February 2018. 
These additions to the local infrastructure, and future projects like them, are contributing to the social development of the island of Isabela, as well as to the health and education of the children who are growing up there.


Jacinto Gordillo Elementary School Playground 

For years, at Jacinto Gordillo Elementary School on Isabela island, students did not have a place to play during their lunch break. As a makeshift alternative to a secure, well-constructed playground, children would seek out and climb the trees, and often end up getting hurt. 

Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.
— -Pediatrics January 2007, VOLUME 119 / ISSUE 1

To address this, IOI organized a group of University of Miami students and professors to create a safe and fun “tire worm.” The “worm” is made from brightly painted, recycled tires that are set into the ground. 

As you can imagine, the addition has been a big hit. For the first time, Jacinto Gordillo Elementary School children have a designated place to run, climb, and play that is safe and right outside their classroom doors!