Learning and Capacity building

Education is something that is done to you. But learning is something you do by yourself. We need to develop methodologies and spaces geared towards learning so that youth can genuinely develop their passions and skills. I believe capacity-building has the power to change our planet. It has the potential to reduce inequalities and construct opportunities. As such, I have always been interested in capacity-building initiatives. Don't hesitate to contact me if you want to know more or if I can be of help in your capacity-building/learning initiatives!

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Interdisciplinary methodologies to prevent gender-based violence

Growing up in Colombia, most people eventually normalize violence as an everyday thing. After hearing about it so much on the news, you start accepting that violence is part of daily life. However, my entire life changed when a very close friend was sexually assaulted and almost lost her life. After seeing the life of someone I loved destroyed, I decided I couldn't stand actionless anymore. The fact that more people we losing their lives to gender-based violence was something I could not accept any more. I started working with the Colombian Ministry of Education, developing creative guides to prevent gender-based violence in rural Colombia. I hope these guides I developed, targeted at over 700,000 youth, have the potential to change minds and save lives so that nobody has to see a loved one go through this pain again.

Biology teaching at undergraduate level

Teaching, being a passion of mine, has always been one of my driving forces. I was a class assistant for Organisms Biology, Evolutionary Biology, and Parasitology during my undergraduate degree. However, it was only during my masters that I had a laboratory course assigned to me, with over 35 international students under my supervision. Along with the students, we explored their passions and skills to develop scientific projects that allowed them to explore their potential as scientists. 


Public speaking and workshop moderator

I have always felt extremely fortunate to have skills or stories that people want to hear. I love talking and sharing with people, so public speaking and workshop leading has always been something I love. During my research times, I gave several talks of my research in forest carbon dynamics. My most exciting talk was at the American Museum of History in NYC.


On the other hand, I have been trained in Japanese plant art (Kokedama) as well as in solar panel installation and GIS technologies. I have been able to lead over 30 workshops on these 3 topics, with the most rewarding experience being the GIS workshops with indigenous communities (See image to the left). Hopefully soon, the community will be able to document and report deforestation themselves without the need of external support!

Botanical City Tours and plant creation workshops

I have been thinking of ways to brings plants and people closer together. It is hard for people to identify with plants and support their conservation since they don't move or behave like animals. Hence, most plans go unnoticed by the average city dweller. However, that could change if people were aware of the marvelous effects and uses of the plants around them. Since 2019, I have been doing seasonal botanical tours, as well as Kokedama Creation Workshops in Montreal, Canada, and Bogota, Colombia. If in a tour, I lead groups of max ten people around the city, showing them the medicinal, toxic, and hallucinogenic plants they can find in just a 2km radius! In a workshop, I guide about 10 participants on the Kokedama creation process, starting with the history of this Japanese Art and finishing with the manual process of creating their plant spheres.


Santiago R. Said-M.Sc. Environmental Biologist