Preliminary Research Trip to Guyana

$1,925 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 30 months
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Notice: There has been a major update to my campaign. I am no longer going to Guyana this summer, but Belize. I am still performing a similar type of scouting trip, but it is taking place in a different country. There is a possibility that my master's research will also occur in Belize. Please read the latest update for more information. 

Hello everyone. My name is Josh, and I have an opportunity to study people’s beliefs about jaguars in Guyana, but I cannot do it without you. I need your help to fund a scouting trip this summer.

I am a Master’s student in Humboldt State University’s Environment and Community program, which you can read about here. I have long been fascinated by wild animals, and have wanted to contribute to their conservation in a meaningful way. But my greatest skills lie in working with people, which first led me to pursue a career in Counseling. However, I never gave up on my passion for wildlife. Therefore I have come to Humboldt State in order to combine my training in social sciences with my desire to benefit animals. I now have the chance to pursue a master’s project that will be the perfect culmination of my life experiences.

I have an opprotunity to live in the Rupununi region of Guyana during 2018: studying local peoples’ beliefs about jaguars. This will have multiple benefits. Conversations with researchers on the ground have revealed that cultural and spiritual beliefs about jaguars might help determine how much people tolerate them. Accounts of conflicts with big cats appear to be increasing in Guyana (J. Persaud, personal communication, January 6, 2017), making it crucial to understand how people view jaguars. Guyana is also an extraodrinary location. 

The South American country of Guyana is an ecological gem. Nearly 75% of its surface is described as “natural vegetation” by the Guyana Forestry Commission (2016), with the majority of that being tropical rain forest. In addition, WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) Guianas claims that 9,000 species inhabit the Rupununi’s savannahs alone (WWF-Guianas, 2014). To be able to work here would be a dream come true, but I need your help.

I need to emark on a preliminary visit to the region where I will be studying this summer. This will give me a chance to begin meeting the people I will work with, get their feedback on my research topic, and develop a truly participatory project. But I cannot fund this trip on my own, and my timeframe for acquiring grants is not encouraging. Here is a list of all of my known expenses for this trip: 

•Airfare to and from Guyana = $1,600
•Decent compact camera and accessories = < $700
•Hotel room in Georgetown for 2 weeks = $630 (Calculated for Julian Guest House).
•Food and lodging at the Caiman House for 2 weeks = $490 ($35 per day).
•Airfare from Georgetown to Lethem = $50
• Gear (hammock, clothing, etc.) = Pursuing donations
Total known expenses = $3,470

However, the above total is almost certainly an underestimate. I have been warned that travel within the Guyanese interior is expensive, although I do not have exact figures. There is also a chance that I will need to pay up to $475 in research permit fees. Therefore I am setting my goal for $4,000, in order to give myself some breathing room.

I will keep none of the money I raise. Every penny I do not use will be donated to NGOs that are focused on wildlife conservation and livelihood assistance in Guyana. In the interest of transparency, I will post proof of these donations both here and on my blog.

Please consider making a donation – no amount is too small! Sharing this campaign on social media is another great way to help.

Feel free to visit my blog, The Jaguar and its Allies, to learn more about my background and interests. I will post updates to my progress as frequently as possible: both here and on that site.

I will be incredibly grateful for any support you can offer! 

References:

Guyana Forestry Comission. (2016). Home. Retrieved from http://www.forestry.gov.gy/.

World Wide Fund for Nature Guianas. (2014). Preliminary report: South Rupununi Biodiversity Assessment Team (BAT) expedition. Retrieved from http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/2014_south_rupununi_bat_preliminary_report.pdf.
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Hello everyone,

I'm sorry for not updating this campaign more frequently. I've been incredibly busy with school, and with preparations for my time in Belize.

As I previously announced, at the end of March I was accepted into an archeology/anthropology field school in Belize. Everything is now almost ready to go for that school. That's a good thing, because it's almost time for me to leave.

I will flying out to Belize on Sunday, May 21. I will be performing archaeological work and Mayan ruins and studying Belizean culture from May 21 - June 19, and after that I have set aside two weeks to learn about jaguar conservation. I have arranged to meet with people who are knowledgeable about the social issues pertaining to jaguar conservation in Belize, I will then return home on July 4.mI'm hoping that in addition to helping me grow as a person, this trip will set me up to perform my master's research in Belize.

This field school is an incredible opportunity, and it wouldn't have been possible without your support. After my last update, no one objected to my using their money to help pay for the field school. So I have applied all of it, which came out to almost $1,600 after GoFundMe took their share, to the program's tuition. Your contributions equaled about half of what I had to pay, which was a big help. Attached is a screenshot of that payment record.

Thank you again for your support. I haven't forgotten about the perks I owe you, and will fulfill them when I return. Also, more information about this trip can be found on my blog. https://thejaguarandallies.com/. I have been updating that site far more frequently than this one.

I will keep this campaign open for now, so that I can communicate with you when I return. Until then, take care!

Josh
How I used your money.
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Attention everyone: I have another critical update to share.

You may have noticed that you have not heard from me in a while. The reason is that I have been pursuing an incredible opportunity. You might recall that a month ago, I restructured my plans for this summer. Instead of carrying out the field work for my master’s thesis in Guyana, I decided that it would make more sense to conduct a preliminary scouting trip. This would help prepare me for my actual research: to commence in 2018. I now have a chance to embark on a similar journey in a much safer, more advantageous fashion. But it will be in Belize.

A few weeks ago, I learned that my school (Humboldt State University) participates in an archaeological field school in Belize. Every summer, a handful of students head to the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. Once there, they learn about field anthropology and archaeology. They get hands-on experience in using cultural anthropological methods, work on Mayan ruins, and study Belizean culture. Students also earn college credits through this field school. Importantly for me, the professor who will be accompanying us knows people who are studying jaguars in Belize.

For all of these reasons, I decided to apply to the field school. I got in.

I cannot tell you how advantageous this might be. Traveling to Belize with a group will be much safer than going to Guyana alone. I will also be able to earn course credits while practicing the very methods I will use during my master’s research. Furthermore, I will be performing archaeological field work on ancient Mayan sites. Jaguars were a central part of Mayan belief systems, which could open up exciting new avenues for my thesis. The professor who will be instructing us has even offered to devote some class time to jaguar-Maya connections for my benefit. Lastly, the fact that she knows jaguar specialists in Belize is huge. It gives me the chance to meet these individuals and to get my foot in the door.

Of course, this is a substantial shift from what I was originally hoping to do. It also opens up the possibility that I will conduct my master’s research in Belize, instead of Guyana. I want to make sure everyone is okay with this.

If you do not want me to use your money for the Belize field school, please let me know. I will give anyone who requests it a full refund. According to the program brochure, the total cost of the field school will be $4,505: a little more than the scouting trip to Guyana. As such, the money you have given me through my GoFundMe campaign would help immensely. But only say the word and every penny will be returned.

I cannot say for certain that my master’s thesis will no longer take place in Guyana. But depending on what happens this summer, it is possible. I want to make sure everyone is okay with me conducting my scouting trip, and maybe my master’s research, in Belize. This field school is an opportunity that I might never have again, and now that I have been admitted I cannot turn it down.

Thank you for your understanding, and please let me know if you have any questions.
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Hello everyone, I have a massive update to share.

With only three months to go before June (when I had hoped to begin my research), I have realized that there is no way I'll raise everything I'll need to conduct anthropological field work in Guyana. But I refuse to give up. In addition, I now have a formal advisor who is helping me structure my thesis in a more reasonable manner. This means I am no longer under significant pressure to begin my research this summer. As a result, I have significantly altered my earlier plans. Here is the new strategy:

I will still travel to Guyana this summer (hopefully this June), but it will be for a preliminary visit. I will speak with villagers, establish contacts, get a better sense of the conditions I'll be working in, and refine my topic to fit local peoples' needs. I will then return to California, finish my classes, and set aside an entire year to work on my thesis.

The above plan will make for a much stronger final product, increase my odds of acquiring grants, and allow me to design a much more participatory thesis. At this point it's also the only way my project will work.

However, I realize that it is a notable departure from what I initially said I would do. So if you are uncomfortable with me using your money for this preliminary visit, please let me know: I'll fully refund you if you want. But I urge you to still support my campaign. This trip will be a crucial part of my research, and I still need your help to make it happen.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has contributed to my campaign. I greatly appreciate all of your shares and donations, and hope that you will continue to support me. This new plan is much more reasonable, and it will allow me to conduct far more meaningful research.

I have updated my campaign page to reflect this new structure – although I have not altered the link. Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you don't want me to use your money for this trip.
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Last week was a great week for my campaign. I received $200 in offline donations, bringing the total amount raised to $1,925. We're just $75 away from the $2k mark. Thank you so much for your support everyone! Please continue to help me fund my Master's research in Guyana!
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Read a Previous Update
Mel Mahler
28 months ago

I like that you are seizing an opportunity as it is offered. I wish I could do more to help.

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$1,925 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 30 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Created January 9, 2017
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$50
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29 months ago (Offline Donation)
$100
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$300
Anonymous
29 months ago
$50
Anonymous
30 months ago
JB
$50
Janay Brun
30 months ago (Offline Donation)

Best of luck on your adventure Josh!

LH
$150
Libby Heintzelman
30 months ago

good luck Josh,I hope you reach your goal

RG
$100
Robert Gross
30 months ago
$50
Anonymous
30 months ago
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BD
$25
Brian Daw
30 months ago

Good Luck young man!

Mel Mahler
28 months ago

I like that you are seizing an opportunity as it is offered. I wish I could do more to help.

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