Robert Riley

MDP Student

Robert joins the MDP program after a successful 20-year career in the United States Navy participating in eight international deployments while traveling through 45 countries in support of humanitarian missions, combat operations, and multi-national cross training assignments. He has been a continuous advocate for marine conservation as a result of his Navy career, serving with institutions such as the Hanauma Bay Education Program and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback WhaleNational Marine Sanctuary while living in Hawaii for nearly eight years.

Currently, Robert is the proprietor of a small producing fruit farm in Los Santos, Panama, employing seasonal workers for various types of fruit sold in local markets on the Azuero Peninsula. Farm practices have been introduced to showcase sustainability concepts such as rainwater harvesting and irrigation which serve as a drought mitigation example for innovative farmers in the local area. These global experiences have shaped his understanding of conservation issues and development challenges which emphasize the need for sustainable practices. MDP studies will be primarily focused on natural resources management and the development of community-based conservation strategies.

Robert isa recent graduate of The University of Arizona with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor concentration in Marine Science. His Honor’s thesis focused on the marine conservation issues central to efforts intended to save the critically endangered Vaquita porpoise in the Northern Gulf of California, Mexico. The thesis identified community-based conservation practices designed and implemented by the immediate stakeholders as preferential and most effective over government sponsored regulations. Robert also completed an internship with the Biosphere 2 complex where he designed and implemented a permanent educational exhibit dedicated to deep ocean exploration.

Additionally, he interned with BARA where his efforts were focused on developing resources and strengthening bi-national relationships dedicated towards a habitat restoration project in Nogales, Mexico at the sustainably designed Los Alisos wastewater treatment plant. Last summer’s Marine Ecology Galapagos Islands study abroad program provided valuableinsight to successful conservation strategies implemented in a protected ecotourism area. Recent volunteer efforts in Panama have revealed the need for immediate implementation of conservation practices to preserve turtle nesting grounds and biological corridors in the rapidly developing resort area on the Azuero Peninsula. The Galapagos experience affirmed Robert’s intentions for the MDP program to serve as a pathway to an improved leadership role dedicated to the development of grassroots organizations committed to the conservation of Panama’s natural resources.