US for BFREE

BFREE in the Jungle

aka Belize Foundation for Research & Environmental Education   |   Gainesville, FL   |  www.bfreebz.org

Mission

BFREE was founded in 1995 with the primary purpose of developing and implementing a conservation program for the Bladen Nature Reserve. To achieve this goal, BFREE established a biological field station strategically located in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, adjacent to the reserve. The organization is registered in the US as a 501c3 nonprofit with a local chapter in Belize. Working with multiple stakeholders, BFREE has increased awareness of the Bladen Nature Reserve by highlighting its conservation value and biological significance to ensure that the reserve is recognized as a core conservation area within the national protected areas system and is preserved for future generations in its undisturbed and natural state. BFREE's mission is “to conserve the biodiversity and cultural heritage of Belize." BFREE seeks to achieve its mission by successfully integrating scientific research, environmental education, and conservation while also enhancing sustainable development and providing alternative livelihoods for local community members.

Ruling year info

1996

Executive Director

Jacob Marlin

Deputy Director

Heather Barrett

Main address

2602 NW 6th Street Suite D

Gainesville, FL 32609 USA

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EIN

59-3340282

NTEE code info

Science, General (includes Interdisciplinary Scientific Activities) (U20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Birds, Chocolate, Forests

Rainforest conservation

Population(s) Served

The Central American River Turtle, Dermatemys mawii, is a large, aquatic freshwater turtle found along the coastal lowlands of southern Mexico, northern Guatemala and Belize. Locally known in Belize as the Hicatee, D. mawii has been intensely harvested for its meat. It has been virtually eliminated from much of its former range in southern Mexico, while its status in Guatemala remains unclear. The lone surviving representative of the family Dermatemydidae, D. mawii, has a unique evolutionary lineage. Classified as Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction) by the IUCN Red List, it is listed in the report, “Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles – 2018,” by the Turtle Conservation Coalition.

in 2011 the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and BFREE began the construction of the Hicatee Conservation & Research Center (HCRC) at the BFREE field station. The goal was to create an assurance colony and investigate the reproductive biology, nesting ecology, and feasibility of breeding Hicatee in captivity. In 2011, construction on the HCRC began and by 2014 ponds were stocked with adult and sub-adult turtles. The HCRC is the only ex-situ facility in Belize maintaining Dermatemys mawii (Hicatee turtle) in captivity for the purpose of studying aspects of its biology and behavior. The HCRC includes three ponds, – two breeding ponds for adults and one rearing pond for captive-born hatchlings. A well and solar-powered pumping system supply fresh water to the ponds.

Captive-breeding offers the potential to produce offspring for release and repatriation into areas that have experienced widespread declines or extirpation. Additionally, specimens maintained in captivity provide valuable opportunities for studying aspects of the species’ reproductive biology, diet, and behavior that would otherwise be difficult to observe or study in the field. This information, in turn, can help further inform and influence conservation strategies and actions. Research and activities at the HCRC combined with partner efforts will contribute to comprehensive conservation and recovery effort for D. mawii in Belize.

BFREE hosts high school and college student groups from Belize, the US, Canada, and the UK. beginning in 2015, HCRC staff began offering one-hour tours of the facility combined with educational talks describing the current status of the Hicatee turtle in Belize and throughout its limited range. Researchers and other visitors to BFREE are also offered these tours upon request. Recent visitors to the HCRC have participated in the national #SaveTheHicatee awareness campaign by signing a petition banner thereby pledging their commitment to the conservation of the species.

Population(s) Served
Adults
People of Latin American descent
Academics
Activists

Recently discovered deep in the rainforests of southern Belize lies a remnant population of ancient wild Cacao trees. This small pocket of cacao trees was found by Jacob Marlin growing on the 1,153 acre BFREE privately protected area located at the foothills of the Maya Mountains – an area described as one of the least disturbed and largest continuous expanses of tropical rainforest north of the Amazon. Based on the advice of cacao experts, beans from the wild trees were submitted for genetic testing to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP). The results determined that this could be the original chocolate tree, 100% pure Criollo parentage, grown and revered by the ancient Mayan Civilizations, and one of the few pure wild cacaos known to exist on the planet. In 2015, the beans were given the designation of “heirloom fine flavor” by HCP, only the 11th chocolate in the world to receive such an honor. Since this designation, BFREE has become an active partner with HCP. As part of HCP’s work, they have generously been providing small grants to BFREE over the past two years to assist with the development of our work to propagate heirloom fine flavor cacao.

These discoveries were especially exciting to us because of the inherent conservation value – the variety of cacao appears to require environmental conditions that incentivize tropical forest conservation. A high percentage of shade and a structurally diverse forested environment provide natural ecological barriers to disease and cross-pollination, and are likely the conditions necessary for productivity; ultimately correlating a high-value crop to a diverse and healthy rainforest habitat. As a result of this discovery, BFREE began a project to preserve and propagate this rare and wild ancient heirloom fine flavor cacao while investigating its economic, social, and environmental benefits. Propagated from these wild trees grown under a variety of different conditions, BFREE has over 15 acres of cacao growing in an agroforestry environment, where wildlife like Jaguars, Tapirs, Howler monkeys, Harpy eagles, and Scarlet macaws make their home.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Adults
Children and youth

Where we work

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    BFREE serves Belizeans of all kinds to create sustainable development opportunities for alternative livelihoods for Belizeans.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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US for BFREE

Board of directors
as of 7/22/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Robert Klinger Klinger, PhD

U.S. Geological Survey

Peter Esselman, PhD

Fishery Biologist with U.S. Geological Survey

Gentry Mander, JD

Staff Attorney

Tim Gregory, PhD

Pamela Garvin

Jacob Marlin

James Rotenberg, PhD

Associate Professor, UNCW

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 06/23/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/23/2021

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.