The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund Award. Established at CFVI in 2003, the Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund supports studies and activities that address environmental concerns that transcend the boundaries of any single island or island state in the insular Caribbean.
Ailén Anido Escalona from Gibara, Cuba, has been selected to receive this year’s award, a $5,000 grant to support her project that involves developing and implementing a strategy to mitigate the illegal trapping and trade of wild birds, a serious and widespread environmental problem throughout Cuba.
It is the first Towle grant to be awarded in Cuba and the 15th grant awarded under the Towle Fund at CFVI. Her proposal was among eight other proposals from St. Kitts, St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Escalona’s project focuses on a site in Gibara considered to be one of the most important migratory corridors on the island and among the three areas in the country where capture and trafficking are the greatest.
Judith Towle said that she and the other two reviewers saw in the winning proposal a project that has a robust link to the objectives of the Towle Fund as it addresses a critical cross-boundary issue that impacts areas elsewhere in the Caribbean.
“It seeks remedial measures through partnership with the local community and public institutions, and puts a strong emphasis on public education and training at all levels while also reinforcing the importance of policy change,” she said. “Ailén’s credentials are strong, the project is well-designed, and it relies on an experienced and expert leader.”
Escalona works at the Museum of Natural History in Gibara, Cuba and has 20 years of experience carrying out activities supporting bird conservation. She holds a Master of Science in Environmental Management.