On May 7, 2008, friends and supporters of the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER) descended on the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC, for a benefit event that included a concert for almost 400 people by Olivia Newton-John. The evening began with a blessing by Amazonian Shaman Don Antonio Montero, who traveled all the way from Cahuide, Peru, for the event. Also in attendance was his good friend, noted ethnobotanist, James Duke, PhD.
Returning just a few days earlier from her walk on the Great Wall of China to support breast cancer research, the celebrated singer and actress delighted all in attendance with a deeply personal concert that highlighted the purpose of the evening—the need to care for ourselves, our planet, and in particular, the Amazon Rainforest. Newton-John’s song choice included the title track from her Grace and Gratitude CD as well as “Instrument of Peace” from the same CD. She also sang “Gaia” for the first time in public, a song reflecting Olivia’s own experiences with cancer.
The evening concluded with a reception, where a special rainforest tea was served, donated by John Easterling of the Amazon Herb Company. The evening was a huge success. Thanks to the generosity of many, ACEER raised over $340,000, which included meeting a second challenge grant of $100,000 from the Windhover Foundation.
ACEER is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing education and conservation for the Amazon rainforest. ACEER was founded in 1991 and carries on numerous educational programs and projects in the Peruvian Amazon area. ACEER programs include teacher training and environmental education for schools in Iquitos, Pucallpa, and Puerto Maldonado, Peru, as well as academic workshops in Peru through the University Outreach Program that focus on experiential learning and fieldbased academic experiences for universities and individual students in a variety of disciplines related to the neotropics.
One of ACEER’s most long-standing educational projects includes its annual “Pharmacy from the Rainforest Ethnobotany Ecotour,” which has been co-sponsored with the American Botanical Council since 1994. More about ACEER’s programs is available at its Web site: www.aceer.org.