Nov 10, 2022

WALC Session 1: A Letter from Rob Cahill, CCFC Co-founder

Dear Friends,

Our first 25 day, in-person WALC [Women in Agroecology Leadership for Conservation] session since the fall of 2019 has come and gone. 

We are deeply grateful for your support.

We had a very small turn out compared to the number of applications we received. However, this 25-day session will provide us with some group leaders in our second session. Our second 25-day, in-person WALC session will start on November 19. Our hope is to have at least 80 participants in the second session. 

WALC 2022 session 1:  total 40 participants, group leaders, teachers and area coordinators.  

Alumnae of the WALC program can become interns, teaching and mentoring younger girls, and serving as role models for what it can look like to stay in school. 

We added two classes to our rotation of mini-courses: water and women’s rights and leadership. Our women’s rights and leadership class was taught by Silvia Mez Caal. Silvia came to WALC in 2016, was a group leader in 2017, and participated twice in 2018 and 2019. Silvia was one of the first Advanced WALC Interns. She is now studying social work at the university level and she participates in the COCODE (mayoral council) of her village as youth representative. 

Our baking class provided at least one, sometimes two, snacks per day. These included a variety of breads with jam, cakes, cookies and candied squash. Angelica Si Tzub was the baking teacher. Like Silvia, Angelica first took part in WALC in 2016 at the age of 14. Angelica is now 19 and at the university Mariano Galvez in her first year of Law (undergrad).  

WALC students prepare tamales for their dinner with ingredients harvested from the CCFC grounds. 

Elvira Ac Macz was a program coordinator. Elvira has a long history with WALC going back all the way to 2010 and taking part in WALC every session, every year from 2010 to 2016. 

This is the first year we had a professional psychologist visiting our program. This was a great addition to the program. She gave a couple of talks on leadership and made herself available to students for one-on-one appointments. This proved very popular with our students and her time slots were quickly booked up, so much so that she added some days to her time with CCFC. 

Guest speakers and topics: 

Natural History of Orchids (Guisella y Jorge Carlos Carvi)

Birds and Birding (Rudy Botzoc)

Bird Migration (Miriam Galindo)

Amphibians and Reptiles of CCFC’s Campus (Dr. Rowland Griffin and Bryony Jenner)

Bird Friendly Agroforestry (Max Noack)

Being a Q’eqchi’ Woman (kana Adela de Cuz)

Being a Couple (Max Noack y Floricita Meza de Noack)

Reproductive Health and Family Planning (Dominga Torres -6 days)

Animal Welfare (Bryony Jenner)

Leadership and Psychology (Jemina Calderon).

Another important feature of WALC this year was our geographic reach. Although we had a much smaller group than we hoped, we still had students from four out of the five departments of WALC’s focus area: Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Izabal and Quiche. Twelve municipalities were represented and 32 villages within IBA delineated areas (Important Bird Areas as defined by BirdLife International). We were very excited to receive students from very remote and, therefore, difficult to reach villages. 

Birds are one of the many subject areas explored by WALC students. 

Just some fun tidbits

Yesterday I took the non-organic garbage to the Coban municipal landfill. Thirty days ago (five days before WALC started) I had taken the trash to the landfill. In 30 days with approximately 45 to 50 people on campus at any given time, we had produced three small bags of non-organic trash. 

I enjoyed the 3x each day tortilla run on my eBike powered by a combination of good corn tortillas and solar / hydro electricity. A group of women in Recuerdo Chichen are happy to make some money making us our tortillas on improved stoves and it gave me a good excuse to ride my bike for 25 minutes, three times daily. 

I was personally very gratified to have had the entire large building powered by the hydro electric while the small quetzal building was powered most of the time by solar. We were never without plenty of power. 

WALC  students, interns, and guests enjoy a worship service on CCFC's multipurpose patio. 

To learn more about our partner, Community Cloud Forest Conservation, in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, visit Plans are underway for an intergenerational trip in June 2023. See additional information at