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

After more than 20 years of protecting the unique wilderness of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, the Corcovado Foundation is in danger of shutting up shop completely at the end of February.

2016 was not a great year for our small and passionate team of conservationists. Hurricane Otto and the unusually bad rainy season severely damaged business at our non-profit hostel, Drake Bay Backpackers. We needed to evacuate a group of sea turtle volunteers in November due to the severe weather. And we were unlucky with our grant applications and regular fundraisers.

Our environmental programs- sea turtle conservation, environmental education, sustainable tourism and development- are not only essential for the protection of biodiversity in the Osa Peninsula, but are also very near and dear to our hearts. Each one of us has been working hard to save our foundation and the communities we support. But we need your help!

In Rio Oro, Aida Garcia, our director of sea turtle conservation has just completed a gruelling 6 month nesting season, protecting 2400 green, olive ridley and hawkbill nests with local leaders and volunteers. Aida has worked for the program since 2013 and is out there on the beach, recording the data, protecting the hatchlings and often getting drenched to the bone.

I never dreamed that I would be able to be right in front of a turtle while it was nesting. It was and is one of the best shows of my life. It’s such a joy to be able to be able to share my passion and the occasional madness of the project with all the volunteers and tourists who come to collaborate with us; and to contribute my grain of sand to conservation.” (Aida Garcia)

Alvaro Amo and Helena Pita, our environmental education team, work with 20 schools in disadvantaged communities across the southern pacific of Costa Rica. Since 2012, they have worked to create real change in the attitudes of young people in the region through weekly after school groups, tutoring, leadership programs and teacher training.

"Our project is so important for improving the socio-economic circumstances of children in rural communities. We empower them to determine their own futures with an awareness and passion for their natural environment" (Helena Pita)

Last but certainly not least, Alejandra Monge and Francisco Delgado. Officially known as our executive director and administrative director; but more accurately described as the heart and soul of the foundation. Alejandra has been there for us since 2001, putting up with our various dramas and telling us not to bite our nails! Fran has tirelessly driven all around the country, setting up sustainable tourism projects and dealing with our endless requests for more colored pencils, sea turtle patrol backpacks and car parts.

Persistence is my word for 2017. This organization and its mission has meant so much to me and I won’t stop fighting until the end! I’ll go down with this ship if I have to.” (Alejandra Monge)

In the communities in which we work, local people often resort to illegal logging, poaching and hunting in order to feed their families. Many have very limited access to education and suffer social problems such as teenage pregnancy, addiction and abuse. By involving local people in our conservation projects and training them to develop their own ideas and businesses, we can improve the lives of rural Costa Rican people, while protecting the spectacular ecosystems that surround us.

We are asking all of our previous donors, anyone who has volunteered with us, worked for us or stayed with us to Make a Difference and donate $1 to save our environmental programs. You can contribute by:

  • Making a US tax-deductible donation online at Global Giving.

  • Booking your vacation with Marvin and Natalia at Drake Bay Backpackers.

  • Popping in to our office in Agujitas and buying a t-shirt, recycled artwork, or tour from Charlotte.

  • Volunteering with Aida, Helena and Alvaro at our sea turtle or environmental education programs.

  • Making a Difference by becoming member and contributing monthly.

However you can donate, however much you can donate, you will be helping to save thousands of sea turtles from poaching, educate 600 children in the importance of their natural world, empower 11 projects from several different communities to create sustainable rural tourism, and support 14 passionate (and worried) conservationists!


Alejandra Monge          Natalia Andraws

Francisco Delgado          Marvin Alvarez

Aida Garcia                  Charlotte Rogers

Alvaro Amo           Ana Margarita Suarez

Helena Pita                        Marcela Peña

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As the year comes to an end, I am counting my blessings and you and your support has been one of them.    Here are some of the main accomplishments of 2016, and they were all possible because of your contribution:

  • The environmental education program reached 325 children from 22 schools every two months.
  • We worked with 68 teenagers in 3 workshops, to analyze with them ways to stop violence against women and children, and sexual education.
  • 82 formal teachers received training about environmental education and how to teach and educate children to become more respectful and sensitive towards the environment.   Due to this training process, more than a 1000 children are now receiving formal training.
  • 6 environmental children groups were formed and are meeting weekly in 4 different communities, supporting environmental efforts such a beach and rivers cleanups and recycling.
  • Among other successes, we should mention also our turtle conservation program, which protected more than 2000 nests at the Rio Oro Wildlife Reserve and therefore ensure the survival of an estimate of 99,000 baby turtles that made it to the sea. 

Wishing you a wonderful 2017 full of happiness, health, peace and adventure,

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Thank you and Happy Holidays!  May 2017 be full of light and wonderful things for you and your loved ones!! 

This report was due yesterday December 9th… unfortunately our office was broken in and the computer we were working on among other equipment and the few cash we had was stolen, so we are starting all over again.   I must say that this year has been difficult!  Getting broken in for the third time, having a hard time getting funding and the Hurricane Otto, which was the first hurricane ever recorded to make land fall in Costa Rica… has been a huge challenge… for me trying to keep the programs alive and for our team on the field that face getting their computers stolen with all their work and personal stuff, being isolated by the flooding during the hurricane, facing sometimes threats from parents (that resent that their children won’t go hunting with them anymore) … the list goes on and on.  

Working in communities where economic alternatives are scarce and the government institutions have little to no presence, not only puts a lot of pressure on the natural resources, but on the quality of life for local people. Unfortunately, those that are not integrated in society either poach on turtles eggs, hunt and poison rivers to extract fresh water shrimps or resort to burglary and crime.  

Despite all these challenges and the personal risks that sometimes living and working in these communities can involve, our team of biologists, volunteers and environmental educators have not stopped working to fight for what they believe in.  Somebody asked me one time… “how is it possible that your organization does so much with so little staff and funding”… my response was 90% of our staff has first been a volunteer and have demonstrated a huge commitment to their cause. They are relentless on their efforts and they work really hard.  When I see their passion for our cause, I do everything I can to keep them.   That is true for our turtle project coordinator, our social worker and for our environmental educators.  I am inspired by them every single day. They are the ones that have motivated me to stay up in the middle of the night writing grants to maintain the programs alive for the last 15 years.

These last six months have been interesting for our program: “Creating the Environmental Leaders of the New Millennium”.   We know that millennials will be facing the challenges that our generation and past generations failed to fix.  Climate change and its impacts will be a more common thing every year. Let’s be honest, communities like El Progreso or Drake Bay will not change the course of Global Warming… but they need leaders to be able to prevent the impact that global warming will produce in these coastal communities.  Coastal adaption will be key, but to adapt communities will need leaders that are aware of the importance of forest, mangroves to prevent and curtail the impacts of floodings and landsslides and that know how to deal will emergencies and organize their communities.

We have poured our efforts in building leadership qualities in those children and teenagers that show interest in the environment and its surroundings.  In the last months, we have empowered youth groups to organize camping trips.  They do all the planning and they raise funding for the trip.  Once they raise money we match their funding. One of our environmental educators facilitates all the meetings and travel with them as a chaperon.  This opportunity in the forest is always a great chance to talk about the services of the forest and also to encourage team building, leadership, collaboration and other wonderful values and qualities needed for positive leadership.

We are working with 4 childrens groups with a total of 31 kids and 2 youth groups with 16 kids.  Altogether they have had 44 meetings and several trips.   We believe that these kids not only will learn to love their environment, but will promote better communities and more integrated that will not only be able to face the challenges of global warming, but also the needs of their communities.   We have also been working tutoring children in schools in order to help them pass school and make it to high school. Education is key to prevent poverty and therefore reduce the crime and the pressure on the natural resources. 

It is hard to explain the feeling of gratitude that overcomes me every time somebody donates to our projects.  I have been trying to share with our donors what it means to be in this side… working with so little resources and wishing we could do more for our communities and once more asking for help and funding.   In my job, it seems an endless task…  Therefore, regardless of the size of the donation, I get excited every time:  Your contributions help us maintain our projects and your vote of trust lift our spirits and help us to keep fighting.  It is hard to do this when you feel that you are all alone, that nobody sees what you or your team does.  But when somebody donates to our cause, it is a push to keep it up.  These have been hard times.  And we appreciate your trust through these years.

I know that there are so many worthy causes out there.  So many organizations in need!  That’s is why I am especially grateful that you decided to donate to our organization.   On behalf of our team, I want to express my deepest gratitude for your generous donation and I want to encourage you to keep informed of our activities and program through our facebook page at  Please help us help more communities by making a donation to this project on Globalgiving. 

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Thanks to a generous donation since our last update, we are pleased to announce that our Environmental Education program is still in operation! Over the last month, we have been working to transform the way in which we work with our environmental students and the wider community in order to have a greater impact and make a real change!

To engage more effectively with older children, we have been reorganizing our five after-school eco-groups. Now the older kids are taking the lead, by planning, organizing and fundraising for the environmental activities that they are interested in. The kids have really stepped up to the challenge and we have seen them take charge in designing and implementing conservation and community development activities; and how to pay for them.

So far they have decided to sell arroz con leche (sweet rice pudding) and empanadas around the villages of Drake Bay. They also came up with a really cool idea to make -natural soaps from used cooking oils, which we are all excited to try!

Encouraging our students to take responsibility for their own learning is a vital step towards the creation of future conservation leaders. By giving them the opportunity to be the decision-makers we have empowered them to cooperate and communicate more effectively. We have definitely seen that they aremore motivated to complete tasks and have increased engagement with the community as a whole.

Over the next few months our goal is to appoint one of our older alumni students for each of our environmental education groups. Their task will be to assist our environmental educators in leading activities and lessons. They will also provide vital support as a buddy to the younger children so that we are better able to monitor at-risk kids in our community.

Besides this new approach, we are also investing a lot of time in tutoring children. In Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, most parents have not finished school themselves and find it very difficult to help their children with homework. Therefore we are dedicating several hours a week to work with children one-on-one. Anyone remember logarithms? Neither did we! Over the last month we have been studying too! We have converted an old office into a new classroom and even more students than we expected have been showing up regularly for both academic and emotional support. Our objective is to make sure these children make it through high school and (hopefully) college.

The Corcovado Foundation team is keen to continue with this extra work and so we are reaching out to our wonderful supporters to help us fund an additional environmental educator. In order to cover the food and accommodation for them, we are seeking an additional $480 per month.

By adding an extra member to our small team we will be better able to implement some of the amazing ideas that our student leaders have come up with over the past month.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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The Corcovado Foundation environmental education program has been active in the South Pacific of Costa Rica for 13 years. Sadly, due to lack of funds we may be forced to close the program unless we can raise $55,000 before the beginning of 2017.

Over the years, our environmental education program has successfully engaged with 441 Costa Rican primary school children in 22 schools. 1200 textbooks have been distributed all around the country and our hard-working educators have developed a complete curriculum of environmental education both inside and outside of school.

We believe that continuing this work is vital for the future protection of Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity and the improvement of opportunities for our children. Over the last decade, we have seen kids become excited about and proud of the natural world that they live in. We have seen their faces light up on excursions to Corcovado National Park and the Gulfo Dulce Marine Reserve- experiences that are generally only affordable for foreigners.

Our five after school activity groups have nurtured creativity and instilled a deep sense of community in our students. Using art and craft projects, games, plays and much more we have helped the next generation to understand the true value of Costa Rica’s natural resources- while having lots of fun together. In fact, these after school groups are so popular that most kids will arrive half an hour early- something which doesn’t happen often in this country!

In our formal lessons, we have covered all manner of topics including reforestation, sea turtle conservation, waste and recycling, ecosystems and bird migration. All with a focus on protecting the staggering number of species of mammals, birds and insects in the Osa Peninsula for future generations.

In the rural communities where we work, many schools simply do not have the funds to teach an environmental education class. If we are unable to continue our program, hundreds of kids will no longer have access to up-to-date textbooks, after school activities, excursion days or art supplies.

Please, we urge you to give whatever you can and forward this update to friends and family.

Thank you for your support!

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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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