By Denise M. Roberts
Expedition Adventure & Survival Training LLC (E|A|S|T LLC)
Boca Raton, FL 33442
Tel: (561) 409-3953
H2O International, Inc.’s Iván Molina Castrillón is a multifaceted, multitalented man with a zest for learning, life and business. It is just these character traits that make for a successful and enterprising employee. This story, about Nature and company-sanctioned pursuits of Molina, give a hint as to why he is of such value to H2O International as well. “My responsibilities at H2O International, Inc. and the Wishing Well International Foundation include managing the technology infrastructure and doing most of the graphic design and photography work for advertising in water industry trade journals. In 2001, I started out building the company’s computer network central infrastructure from the ground up. I’ve been maintaining it since and became a full-time employee in 2006. But that’s not all I do.”
Molina has quite the versatile background. His educational pursuits originally included studies in biology and nature, but his entry to secondary education came through an arts scholarship. “My grades weren’t that good,” said Molina. “I suppose wanting to be in the woods all the time did not enhance my interest for schoolwork. But I’ve managed to funnel, synchronize and assimilate many skills I’ve acquired on my own since then. I am a photographer and an artist of different media but particularly interested in the recycling, reuse and repurpose of discarded items and products, both synthetic and natural. I was a professional actor for many years until economics prompted me to join the US Army. It was there that I continued my education in advertising design, business, communications and of course, warfare and combat training. My team field experience in the Army provided me with future opportunities to share what I learned. Some of the training I offer today is, in part, the integration of military tactics on camouflage, evasion, survival, first aid and safety.”
E|A|S|T LLC, a private, family-owned business, is based on the survival principle of achieving the maximum with minimum resources or effort. “Eco-tourism and nature tourism expeditions are a growing industry and I’m expecting the venture to reach those targeted markets as we grow our presence.” Operations are conducted from Molina’s virtual office. His son, Juan, is his Expedition Leader assistant. “Depending on the size of the expedition adventure, we bring volunteer apprentices to help with the support operations. In 2014, after three years of pilot excursions to survey and test all preparations, we officially registered the company with the state of Florida and started publicly offering our expeditions. H2O International CEO Guillermo Guzman supports my enterprise, providing me with the opportunity to conduct E|A|S|T activities during the adventure season, while H2O and Wishing Well International provide various samples of filtration equipment to be used by the participants.
“The knowledge I’ve gained through my experience with H2O has helped me to develop and implement various water purification techniques we use in our river expeditions. The hydration part of surviving in this environment is a primary challenge. The logistics of finding adequate water resources and determining viability, as well as calculating need based on the length and capacity of the expedition, is crucial. Drinking safe, clean water provides participants with a level of comfort and trust that brings value to the experience. E|A|S|T exposes clients to various fieldwater purification techniques, both conventional bushcraft-based and advanced industry application-based that remove viruses and bacteria from water. The use of the purification systems bring a great deal of trust in the technology and enables us to go deeper into the environments.”
So how did Molina go from computers, graphic design and water purification to survival training? “The vision really started when my now-deceased father, Emilio, first shared his experiences of living off the land when orphaned at an early age,” Molina explained. “He described how he, his brothers and sister had to improvise, adjust and overcome to survive in rural areas in Puerto Rico during the 1920s and early 1930s. I was so impacted with the idea of self-reliance that my parents enrolled me in Boy Scouts programs when I was only seven years old. I became the first president of the Puerto Rico Explorer and was selected at age 17 as one of the expedition leaders in training to the island of Mona, where survival skills are critical for exploring and enjoying that unique place. I found that there are many who love Nature and would like to enjoy it like I do, but lack the experience and skills, or physical conditions deter or prevent them from even trying. E|A|S|T LLC exists to satisfy the need to safely participate and enjoy a wilderness expedition, to fit their levels of engagement and to learn by practicing what they see and enjoy on TV programs about this subject.”
“I have to thank family and friends for believing in or self-identifying with my concept to help me move in this direction,” Molina said. “Many people are seeking connections to traditional values that have been lost. Modern societies have been dominated by technological values since the mid-19th century and, while hardly anyone complains about the material benefits, there is hunger for a deeper sense of connection to nature, family, elders and community. With this theory in mind, our mission is to help travelers feel they can belong to a world where they can have experiences that transcend material values. We make all of this feel like an expedition vacation to remember, rather than painful, conventional survival training. And our participants keep coming back.
“We look forward to serving organizations by implementing new and existing methods for leadership and team development. We are also looking forward to helping organizations with support and logistics in their field endeavors, such as video, photography and movie or TV advertising productions. Our slogan is Don’t be surprised, be ready and we love to train people in bush and survival skills.” E|A|S|T LLC is not confined to adventures but is also engaged in different forms of philanthropy. In 2015, the business began volunteering and sponsoring the Broward County Homeless Center. Through Molina’s art, the enterprise actively advocates for nature and its conservation. Molina is highly conscious of the local culture and economic development opportunities. “We like to be a contributor to the hosting areas of our adventures,” he said.
Over the next decade, Molina wants to position E|A|S|T LLC as one of the best venues to offer adventure in Florida and Puerto Rico, besides Disney World. “We are looking forward to taking advantage of the area and its resources, good weather and opportunities for people to enjoy an adventure in the woods. I want to expose people to nature so they also become advocates. I recognize the risk of damaging the same Nature we want to protect and conserve, as it will always be a challenge to change some behaviors, but I believe it is possible. People learn to love and protect nature and the wilderness when they have the opportunity to properly experience it.”
Melding business with business pleasure, Molina is taking many steps that beautifully dovetail his passion with his employment. The need for clean and safe water is an integral part of both. “I see water conservation and purification as being a hot topic at all levels very soon. I want to be a contributor to the knowledge base of the everyday person by offering a field avenue to test and prove water purification system efficacy in a practical way. I want to be able to offer media documentation and professional pictures to those who share my interest in maintaining and preserving water quality. Water is life, making this a very practical and critical element of my company and that of H2O International. How could the two not be a great fit?”