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Rain Forest Champion to Speak at Augustana Sept. 28

Grave robbers, smugglers, chain-saw-toting illegal loggers, poachers – they’re all in a day’s work for Aderito Chayax Tesucún, a member of the Maya Itzá community, a licensed archaeologist, and the director of the Bio-Itzá Reserve, an organization dedicated to preserving the ancient Mayan culture and the tropical rain forests of Guatemala.

Call him the rain forest guardian. Armed with a love of the land, Tesucún and his team work tirelessly to educate local people about the real value of the rain forest in an attempt to preserve Guatemala’s natural environments. Along the way, Tesucún and his crew are at work preserving ancient archaeological sites, ancient languages, and a host of medicinal plants.

He’ll detail his adventures during a presentation entitled, “Past, Present, and Future of Mayan Culture and Tropical Forest Ecology in Guatemala,” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28, in Augustana’s Gilbert Science Center, room 100.

"Aderito Chayax Tesucún and the Asociación Bio-Itzá are silently doing dangerous and difficult work for the benefit not just of their community, but of the whole world. They are preserving their cultural patrimony in order that the whole world might benefit from it. Their forests are the nurseries of medicinal plants the uses of which we are just beginning to discover, and home to an astonishing biodiversity. He's a licensed archaeologist with deep experience in Mayan culture; he's a dedicated guardian of the rainforest preserve,” said Dr. David O’Hara, an assistant professor of Philosophy and instructor in ancient Greek at Augustana. “What they are preserving has become one of Augustana's best classrooms.”

“He has been an inspiration to three groups of Augustana students that Dr O’Hara and I have taken to Guatemala in recent years. We're honored to have Aderito with us here this week,” said Dr. Craig Spencer, professor of Biology at Augustana.

In the photo: Aderito Chayax Tesucún and students from Augustana College explore Guatemala's rain forests during an Interim tour.