“My Experience in Great Ecology, My Placement Organization” by Agustina Tierno, YLAI Alumn from Uruguay

YLAI Alumni sightseeing


Agustina Tierno is the founder and CEO of Bio-Observatories. She was one of 248 fellows participating in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) 2016, a professional fellows program that empowers entrepreneurs and innovative civil society leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean. YLAI focuses on strengthening their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities.

October 11th, 2016, the first day I arrived at Great Ecology, I was kindly received by Jessa Spainhower and we talked about our backgrounds, expectations and possibilities for collaboration. YLAI Alumni

I must say this first day was a bit strange. I came to the US after 40 days in Finland developing another project related to education with no time in between to process the experience to come; I was a bit lost and did not know at all what it was all going to be about.

It didn´t take long for me to feel absolutely grateful to have been matched with this amazing firm.

With my friend and colleague Fiorella Bellora, we are the co-founders of Bio-Observatories, an interdisciplinary design office specializing in sustainable architectural design solutions for natural landscapes. Working in Great Ecology for a month was a unique opportunity to get to know from the inside how one of the most recognized firms specializes in habitat restoration works, from the beginning to the end of the project.

The first week, I had the chance to meet everyone at the office, not only the San Diego team but also the New York and Denver ones. I was also invited to participate in the weekly meeting in which everyone shares the advances of the projects they are working on. All this allowed me to see the magnitude and professionalism of the office, as well as the competence and commitment of each one of the professionals working there, regardless their specific area of expertise.

During the following weeks, I was invited to different internal presentations, and to monitoring in-situ some ongoing projects. All of those experiences were absolutely formative for me. I got to learn a lot about different techniques, procedures, and aspects of operating in natural areas; I also got to learn about the American norms in this field and possible responses to those regulations; I got to see how professionally, efficiently, and well done an ecosystem restoration can be achieved. I was totally surprised when visiting the Del Mar wetland restoration, a project Great Ecology started some months before my visit, that seemed like a project started at least a year before considering the significant advances already made.

During the last weeks of the Fellowship, I worked on a very stimulating project Great Ecology was starting, which proved to me once again the fresh spirit the company has – always thinking about new horizons in an innovative way.

The last days I hYLAI Alimni Sightseeing ad to make a presentation about Bio-Observatories for the YLAI Pitch Competition. For this presentation, I was very inspired and supported by Great Ecology´s team. They were all very eager to share their knowledge and follow the development of my work until the final day; I even had the opportunity to present my progress at different times, receiving very useful feedback from all of them on every occasion.

Sincerely I couldn’t be happier to have had the opportunity to work in such an extraordinary company, with such experienced and competent professionals, led by a very inspiring entrepreneur, Mark, committed to such an important cause, and with an unbeatably pleasant atmosphere in which everyone is excited to help each other and to evolve together.

Thank you Jessa, Michelle, Marlene, Nick, Julie, Julien, Jill, Ashley, Lilia, Loana, and Mark for receiving me in the warmest possible way! Hope to see you all soon here.