L NV'CP.l rI * F LOlRID Featured Scholar
Undergraduate Jenny Basantes
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2006 - 2007 University Scholar
University Scholars Program Mentor: Taylor Stein
Undergraduate Research College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Resources While others spent their summer vacationing in the Galapagos Islands, Jenny Basantes
Search: was busy helping its people develop a community-based ecotourism program.
During the summer of 2006, Jenny visited various islands in the Galapagos conducting
Enter Search Terms focus groups within communities to determine the resources that could be used to
promote sustainable tourism. She then surveyed tourists to learn the demand for the
community-proposed products and services. The results of Jenny's research gave the
local community the information needed to steer the country's tourism in a more earth-
"I got to talk on television and explain to the residents what I was doing and let them
know that I would help them as much as I could," she said. "I learned to interact with
people of a different social status and understand what their needs are."
Jenny's results showed that since tourists' primary reason for visiting the Galapagos
Islands is to explore the wildlife and ecology, many have a desire to help the local
community and ecosystem. Therefore, tourist programs involving species conservation
and recycling can be implemented in the region.
Furthermore, Jenny's research found that many tourists are also willing to integrate some
cultural, community-based activities into their itineraries. Therefore, demonstrating local
history and customs through services such as arts and crafts and alternative medicines
could be utilized to boost tourism revenues while instilling visitors with a greater
appreciation for the islands.
In addition to her research, Jenny volunteered in the Galapagos National Park educating
the public about a recycling campaign in San Crlstobal Island. During her stay, she
worked with the mayor of San Crlstobal Island, the director of the Galapagos Tourism
Chamber, representatives of non-profit organizations, the Ecuador Environmental
Minister assistant, and other volunteers in the Galapagos National Park. She hopes this
network base will help her in future volunteer efforts, giving her the support she needs
from the community to continue making a difference in the region.
"I feel I have a goal in my life, and it is to help the Galapagos ecosystem and people who
may not have the necessary economic and intellectual resources to develop their
careers," she said. "With some help and preparation they can do it, so I feel I can serve
as a means for them to achieve their goals."
This fall, Jenny will begin an Interdisciplinary Ecology master's program at UF. Her career
goal is to work for a U.S. non-profit organization interested in preserving natural
ecosystems through community development. She would eventually like to foster a
partnership between UF and the Galapagos Islands that would enable professors and
students to conduct research and establish programs of conservation, sustainable
development and ecotourism.
"My desire is to increase the intellectual capital of the Galapagos people and concentrate
it on the conservation of the Galapagos Islands."
-By Danielle Sibilio
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