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Monday, February 05, 2007

Earthwatch and Starbucks join coffee farmers in Costa Rica

Earthwatch Institute and Starbucks Coffee announced last week the extension of a partnership, which brings Starbucks partners (employees) and customers together on Earthwatch environmental expeditions. The 2007 project will focus on conducting scientific research designed to benefit a cooperative of 2,600 coffee farms in Costa Rica.

Partners and customers with a taste for adventure and, presumably, coffee can participate in this different kind of Starbucks Experience, at the source of the bean, while benefiting the environment.

This summer, 8 partners and 20 customers will have a chance to join special Earthwatch expeditions to CoopeTarrazú, a coffee cooperative in central Costa Rica. The volunteer teams will use GIS (Geographic Information System) technology to provide a broad scale analysis of factors important to a farmer – including soil erosion and water quality.

”Coffee and our partners are the foundation of Starbucks’ success,” said Dub Hay, Starbucks senior vice president, “By extending our successful partnership with Earthwatch, we are able to provide a unique and uplifting experience for our partners and customers, while continuing the work we do with farmers to help ensure their long-term success.”

In 2005, Starbucks sent partners and customers on a two-week Earthwatch expedition to plant tree seedlings, restoring part of Costa Rica’s vanishing rainforest. "Planting trees to help restore the rainforest in Agua Buena, Costa Rica was an amazing, life-changing opportunity,” said Amber Chenoweth, a Starbucks partner in Seattle who was selected to participate as a volunteer on the expedition. “I was able to blend all my passions: connecting with others, coffee, conservation, photography and helping others. I actually got to live the Starbucks guiding principle: contributing positively to our communities and environment."

Earthwatch volunteers at CoopeTarrazú will map water resources and biodiversity indicators, such as the number and types of trees and insects. Local farmers will receive the maps, research results, and management tools to enhance the environmental sustainability of their farms, as well as yield and quality of their coffee. In addition, the partnership will provide support for educational development and foster a community for 40 local leaders.

Starbucks and Earthwatch have worked together on 15 different conservation projects. The partnership spawned expeditions in diverse settings around the world, including Kenya, Belize, and Vietnam. The research at CoopeTarrazú is just one of more than 130 ongoing Earthwatch field research projects. Since the early 1990s, Earthwatch has worked with organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America providing training and networking opportunities in those communities.

“By involving the people in the issues,” said Dr. Marie Studer, chief science officer at Earthwatch, “the joint Starbucks-Earthwatch program not only provides tools and options to the farmers to better manage their farms, but also helps raise awareness in the global community.”

Starting in April, you can enter this year’s sweepstakes at any Starbucks store and win a trip to Costa Rica. There, you will be an integral part of the research effort at CoopeTarrazú. Visit your local Starbucks or visit www.starbucks.com for more information. The customer sweepstakes ends May 13, 2007, with a drawing of 20 winners.

More info at http://www.earthwatch.org


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