Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil

by Corcovado Foundation
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Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil
Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Mil

A big shout out to you!! You have trusted us, and your trust and support has made an impact!

As I mentioned in a previous report, last year I was happy to run into some of our old “jaguars” (this is how we call the kids that participate or have participated in our Jaguars Youth Group in Agujitas). I had not met these guys for a while, apparently, they were busy becoming wonderful human beings.

I first run into one of them who mentioned how beneficial our environmental education program was for him. How it had served him to open his mind and dream of a better life, for him and his community. He mentioned how after we had taken them to places they never imagined to see in the country, after we had talked to them about how they had the world to explore and conquered, and about how they needed to protect their environment and their community, a spark had lit and they wanted more for themselves and their communities. They wanted to protect their environment, their home and be leaders in their communities.

I was curious, so I reached out to other kids, now adults, that had participated in our program in the past, the result was outstanding. It was wonderful to see the impact of the work of 16 years of dedicated environmental educators, that have guided these young minds into the world of conservation, but also of self-respect, leadership, teamwork and to respect and appreciate others. We then decided to make a video to collect some of the testimonies of these kids.

We have only been able to maintain this program for 16 years thanks to you and people like you, who believed in our efforts.

Please, take a minute and look at our video, and feel free to share it with your friends and brag to them how your support has actually changed the lives of many kids for the better. 

Thank you again for your trust!

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Girl showing her crafts
Girl showing her crafts

How do you make your case? Maybe a video?

As I had mentioned in a previous report, in the beginning of the year we had heard the testimonies of young adults, that 16 years ago, participated with the Corcovado Foundations youth groups, and that today had become local leaders in their community, with a larger vision and much more ambition of what their lives and the lives of their children could turn up to be.  

On April, we embarked on a quest to collect these testimonies, thru a video, with some of the past and present beneficiaries of our environmental education and sustainable development program. The input we received was amazing. Again, it was great the hear about young men and women talking about how their experience with the Corcovado Foundation had changed their lives dramatically for better and for good. Opening their eyes about their wonderful heritage and surroundings, but also about the magnificent potential their lives had, to aspire for more and to become more, to become the stewards of this wonderful area.

One of the most amazing testimonies we collected this April, came from the High School Teacher. Children from all the local schools in the six communities in which we work, end up going to high school at the same place. The high school is located in this poorly ventilated building, initially built as a community center, which definitely does not provide the conditions for 120 students to learn. But these teachers try. And in this precarious setup, they explained to us the difference it makes for them, the work that the foundation does with boys and girls from all these communities. According to this teacher, you can tell when a kid was a part of the Corcovado Foundation’s youth group or not. Those that had previously participated in our group were more respectful with their environment, their peers and themselves and more interested in learning. Also, more concern about recycling, protecting wildlife or refusing to use of single-use plastic and other harmful materials.

In order to maintain our efforts with these kids, the foundation is starting two new efforts, we are trying to collect funding to help the local parent-teachers association build a new high school. If you are interested to help with that you can visit our Corcovado Foundation Osa Community Fund page in GlobalGiving, we need to raise $30,000 USD and we are also setting up 6 workshops -for 5 schools and the high schools- in order to promote sexual education and gender equality.  We need to empower boys and girls to take care of their bodies and prevent teen pregnancies, especially in these rural communities.

I believe that there is no sustainable development without social development. We cannot talk about environmental protection if families are suffering economically and we cannot talk about socioeconomic development without the participation of women. There is a direct correlation between women education and improvement in the families health,  education and economy.  We need empowered women, who want a better world for their children and their communities, women who vocalized their expectations and dreams. It is proven that the income that reaches women, is 90% destined to their family and it is used immediately in urgent needs, such as buying shoes for a little one in the house or buying the biology book that was needed.

Gender equality is considered one of the most important issues we have to address to reduce climate change. The development of women promotes the reduction of the population explosion, makes better use of productive capital and promotes the reduction of poverty. All these important issues to reduce carbon emissions and create a more just world.

Therefore, I think it is fundamental to invest better education for all, but especially for women. At the Corcovado Foundation, we will continue promoting education at schools, with after schools’ activities, and our extracurricular youth groups, and we will continue fighting for a better life for our communities.   Thank you for supporting our efforts throughout all these years.

Kids learning about footprints
Kids learning about footprints
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I am really really happy with my life” she said... and that was music to my ears.

A few weeks ago, we had a gathering with our “Jaguars” alumni.  The Jaguar Youth group was our first environmental youth group, which we put together with the support of the AVINA Foundation in 2003.  The program was funded to create environmental leaders and we used the money to do just that.  Although we couldn’t predict how much impact this was going to have, our recent meeting 15 years later showed us just how much it worked.

In 2003, Drake Bay was a very remote town that was not easy to get to.  It took 6 hours by car and an extra hour by boat to get there from San Jose. There were a few ecotourism businesses that were mostly in the hands of foreigners.  Locals would work at these businesses or would cut trees or hunt to make ends meet.   Women traditionally stayed at home and girls often would drop out of school early because they had unintended pregnancies or because they had to help take care of their siblings.

Drake Bays first experience with environmental education came this year.  Every Friday, I would drive my old Suzuki Sidekick from San Jose to Sierpe and then take the boat to Drake Bay in order to meet the kids the next day.  Participants between 9 and 15 years old would meet with me at an abandoned table on the beach, where we would talk about the environment, do beach cleanups and play.    Oh, how I loved seeing those happy faces! 

With the help of AVINA funding, we managed to put together a multi-day field trip that included visiting projects in coastal areas that were promoting sea turtle conservation, responsible waste management, and wildlife rescue. We took almost 20 Jaguar youth on what was for many their first time traveling outside of Drake Bay.  They stayed in hotels and donated housing along the way.  Because so few of them had ever eaten at a restaurant before, I had one of my friends host them in his restaurant and serve them as full paying customers.  They were able to experience customer service and see how a restaurant operated.  We wanted to show them more! In another town, we met with the leader of a group of women who had overcome big challenges and started a recycling program.  Later, we stayed in a big house with a pool that a good friend of mine had lent to us.  Many of these kids had never seen a pool.  They had a lot of fun!  Along the way, we talked about Costa Rica, about our conservation efforts, about values, about respecting nature and ourselves.   We also talked about reproductive responsibility and rights as girls in Osa have a high percentage of teen pregnancies.    That trip was a blast, but I also think they learned a lot.  They learned that there was a big world to explore outside of their town and they learned how valuable it was to keep it healthy!

With the support of friends and family we organized many more activities.  My husband and our friend Paul donated a scuba diving class, we figured maybe one day they could become dive professionals.   Our friend Sabina took the kids to Chirripó National Park which is the highest peak in the country.  And our friend Gustavo would take them exploring in Corcovado National Park.  These were just a few of the activities we organized.  

15 years later, we had a reunion and I could not be happier with what I saw.  The giggly little girls we taught were now confident women. They thanked me and the foundation because they believe that their experience with us not only helped them care about the environment but also expand their horizons.  They said that when they were done with the Jaguars Youth Group, they were ready to learn more, to study, to experience, to travel and to take care of themselves.  Two young women Miriam and Raquel (25 and 29 years old), are now a social worker and a successful entrepreneur respectively.  Raquel was telling me how much she liked her life, how happy she is… “really really happy”, she said.  She truly appreciates the learning experience and now wants to do the same for other girls.  She wants to teach others how to take care of themselves and avoid early pregnancies so they can continue their studies and be anything they want in life.  Now, they are promoting conservation from their own workplaces and are ready to give back!!  These are the new leaders that AVINA was hoping for.  

Sadly, after 2005, my job became more of an administrative job.  But we have had several amazing environmental educators after that.  Environmental educators that were also role models and counselors to hundreds of children!   Federico, Daniela, Alvaro, Mayra and currently Helena have been working with hundreds of kids in the Osa Peninsula.  I can’t wait to see what the youngsters from the next generation will become!  If they follow the footsteps of Miriam and Raquel they should be just fine!

This project has survived for 15 years because of your support and the support of people like you!  Thank you for these awesome 15 years.


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Our team  wishes you merry Xmas!
Our team wishes you merry Xmas!

Between Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays there is a growing feeling of gratefulness, isn’t there? At least I have this warm growing feeling of connection with the world. John Denver said “I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life - whoever you are, whatever our differences” and as the year heads to its end, I feel this connection more and more, that everybody and everything around me is a gift. Some are teaching me, some are nurturing me, some are compelling me to grow, but most of all I feel that there is so much love that surrounds us, so much good in the world, so many wonderful people undertaking huge projects to help children, to help those that have less, to protect the environment or to simply be a good human being, a good Samaritan, a good parent, a good citizen, a good example. I am grateful seeing all the wonderful people working hard to make a better world.  With so much love in this time of the year, I must express how thankful I am for you and people like you that supports us with their love, their ideas, their work and their financial support.

We are just part of a big chain of people, people all over the world trying to make this world a better place, for all of us and the rest of creatures that coexist with us. And here are some of our achievements:

  • Our sea turtle project relocated 81 nests in the turtle hatchery in 2018.
  • 4,171 sea turtle hatchlings have been released to the ocean, during this season.
  • 6 Drake Bay schools have received environmental education in 2018, more than 30 sessions implemented, which have reached a total of 155 students. Lot less that last year due to the Ministry of Education 5 months general strike.
  • 60 children from 4 environmental groups from Drake Bay participated in a total of 111 extracurricular activities. These workshops are really important for these children since these are the only extracurricular activities that are available in their communities. Together children learn about arts, write their own plays and make their costumes, recycle, organize beach clean ups, and find their voice in their community.
  • 32 girls and boys from Drake Bay participated in 3 tours whale watching tours and a tour to the Corcovado National Park overnight tour.
  • A resident Birds Festival organized together with the Guides Association of Drake Bay
  • A play prepared by the children of Drake Bay, regarding how humans need to protect their ecosystems, presented at the Regional Arts Student Festival and the Mangroves Festival in Sierpe.
  • Active participation in the Single Use Plastic Committee, which has managed to include a clause in the Municipality's regulations requiring companies to eliminate the use of single use plastic from their operations in order to obtain their permits.
  • 26 companies informed in Drake Bay of the importance of disposing of single-use plastic.
  • 3 familiarization tours with Drake entrepreneurs to promote the rural tourism projects of Rancho Quemado and Progreso and 23 talks held to promote rural community tourism within Drake's businesses.
  • 4 Christmas parties held for 4 schools in Drake Bay, 116 gifts distributed to the boys and girls of Drake Bay.
  • 12 business plans prepared for community rural tourism companies in La Amistad International Park.
  • An emergency plan prepared for the Cabecar trail in La Amistad International Park, which will help the community obtain its use permit and receive a direct benefit from the protected area.
  • 20 MINAE employees and 10 members of the communities of the La Amistad Pacifico Conservation Area trained in the design, construction and management of trails by the Colorado State University.
  • 40 people from the communities surrounding La Amistad International Park trained in business administration, accounting, labor code, social networks and other topics related to the development of business initiatives.
  • Tourism and environmental education plans elaborated for Carara Los Quetzales and La Cangreja National Parks.
  • 14 infrastructure plans prepared for protected areas throughout the country.
  • Delimitation plan for Hitoy Cerere national park elaborated.

That is a lot of work! But this letter can only be so long! I am very proud of our team, through mud and under the rain they leave their houses to work with the children of Drake to light up their little faces with smiles and their brains with ideas of conservation, they go out in the middle of the night to protect little turtles, or get up at 4:00 in the morning to be in a meeting on the other side of the country! They are the engine of this organization and I thank them all for their commitment and dedication.

Our donors, volunteers and members are the driving force behind our environmental efforts.  Your passion to protect the rainforest and to make a better world is key to maintain our work.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, happy New Year and may 2019 be full of health, peace and love for all!

Alejandra Monge

Executive Director

Corcovado Foundation

from our office:  Merry Xmas!
from our office: Merry Xmas!
Our volunteers at work
Our volunteers at work
Our seaturtle conservation team
Our seaturtle conservation team
one of the 4171 hatchlings we released this year
one of the 4171 hatchlings we released this year
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Children learning as they play
Children learning as they play

Most children in Costa Rica have been absent from school since September. A government general strike deescalated later only to schools and high schools. Almost 1 million children and teenagers are supposed to be in school, but instead they are sitting at home, watching TV at best.  This is the same situation for schools in the Osa Peninsula, but worse.  Kids in the Osa Peninsula were already behind the general education standard. Many teachers in these schools are often absent for personal reasons or weather limitations, leaving the kids with 4 or 3 days of school, instead of the 5 normal days. Now, they have no school at all.

Unfortunately, these children are the ones that need a good school the most. They lack educational opportunities: there are no museums, libraries or theaters around, and their parents cannot complement the absence of education, because they also had limited access to it. 

Students who frequently miss school are less likely to adopt the behaviors and social norms that employers, colleges and law enforcement may expect, experts say.   “Absence is often associated with low supervision … and alienation or detachment from conventional institutions,” said Patrick H. Tolan, the director of Youth-Nex, a center at the University of Virginia that conducts research on factors influencing youth development.

Our organization has been working hard to help mitigate the impact of this void left by education. \


  • While we could, we reached 103 students in 5 schools to talk about plants and trees.
  • After the schools definitely closed, we held 4 activities with 40 kids to talk about local fauna and to study the trap cameras that we located on a nearby property.  We have also held 42 environmental workshops with 40 kids to talk about solid waste, ecosystems, seaturtles.
  • We also had three whale watching trips with 31 kids and 6 adults and we went camping with 11 kids from the community.

They say “fac et aliquid operis, ut semper te diabolus inveniat occupatum” or ”Idle hands are the devil's workshop”. So, we are doing everything we can to keep these kids busy and stimulated! Thanks to you support, we are making this possible. Take a look at our facebook page to see pictures about the work we do with all these kids. and please keep supporting us @globalgiving.

Children learning about the forest
Children learning about the forest


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Organization Information

Corcovado Foundation

Location: Moravia,, San Jose - Costa Rica
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Alejandra Foundation
Moravia, San Jose Costa Rica
$12,885 raised of $35,000 goal
266 donations
$22,115 to go
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