The EP are programs designed to promote transformative and experiential learning. Become a global environmental citizen with Neotropica Foundation! Join us!
Fundacion Neotropica is a Non Government Organization (NGO) dedicated since 1985 to finding a balance between human well being and nature conservation.
In this sense, Fundación Neotrópica has as a mission to promote social consensus and self management for the conservation and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits generated by our natural resources.
The institutional organization aims “to transform concrete realities in the natural resource management in the Neotropics, towards sustainable practices that protect the natural heritage and improve the quality of life for present and future communities”.
Fundación Neotrópica is convinced that without a fair distribution of the costs and benefits of conservation and development, the resolution of socio(environmental conflicts is impossible. Therefore it is committed to the promotion of bottom)up models of endogenous conservation and development that facilitate such processes.
The main instruments of promotion of these models are its Field Stations or CEECs (Center for Studies and Community Empowerment).
In these areas students and academics/researchers have a chance to participate of these programs and share a transformative experience with the communities involved.
The opportunities of participating in the GEC program are varied and range from SHORT TERM EDUCATIONAL FIELD PROGRAMS (NEOTROPICURSOS) in ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS, POLITICAL ECOLOGY, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, AND SOCIAL & CULTURAL STUDIES for undergraduate and graduate students.
Dr Andrew Morgan Ray and Dr. Pia Wood from Tennessee University said: “We took our class, “The Politics of Ecotourism and Sustainability”, to various rural sectors of Costa Rica to help the students to learn not only about the players involved in Costa Rica’s various ecotourism and sustainability projects, but to also guide them toward a type of education that tried to democratize the hierarchy of learning about this topic. That is to say, it wasn’t just about exclusive learning from the top players and their knowledge and advice on the topic; rather, it was about gathering information that ranged from the Environmental Tribunal to the U.S. Embassy to local people and how they felt about how tourism impacts them. The Fundación Neotrópica was fundamental in helping us realize the complicated logistics for this type of class. We told them where we wanted to go and they set it up for us, plus they suggested new places to investigate, which was also a very valuable asset. Their field station in the Osa Peninsula provided a great learning experience for the students. There, they learned a great deal about Neotrópica’s goal to aid local rural communities in determining their own concept of development, which is extremely important, given that many times these communities’ voices go unheard. Our own students expressed their inspiration at learning about Neotrópica’s effort to empower local community members and were grateful that they could see concrete examples of this effort”
The majority of these programs take place at the Center for Studies and Community Empowerment Álvaro Wille Trejos (CEEC-AWT), they include field trips to Nicaragua and Costa Rica as well.
1. Fundación Neotrópica in the Osa Peninsula
The history of Fundación Neotrópica in the Southern region of Costa Rica began almost from the establishment of the organization. One of the main work areas for the organization included the tropics of the “New World” (Neotropics) as its name indicates, due to its high biodiversity and ecological importance for the country.
By 1990, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the project called “Program for Restoration of Forest in Osa” better known as BOSCOSA, which was followed by two training projects of great impact in the zone: “Training in the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources” and the “Tropical Youth Center” that looked for the implementation of a local and international environmental education program, which became the reason for the creation of the CEEC AWT.
2. Center for Studies and Community Empowerment Alvaro Wille Trejos
The Osa Peninsula is considered to be the geographical space with the greatest concentration of biodiversity in the Americas; there is also a concentration of great social environmental conflicts in this zone, due to the implementation and proposal of mega projects which could be incompatible with this environmental uniqueness.
As part of the processes that were implemented by the organization in the area in the early 90s was the development of an environmental education program that would help to preserve and make known the importance of the biodiversity of the region.
This process began in 1993 with the creation of the Tropical Youth Center or CJT (later known only as Tropical Center or CT) which was initiated with the financial support of DANIDA (Danish International Development Assistance) and the Group of Nepenthes Rainforest from Denmark.
At first, the Tropical Youth Center (CJT) was visualized as the place in which youth and adult environmental education program would have an effect. This program was implemented in two phases. The first one was developed during the years 1993 to 1996 and the second one from 1997 and 2000, which was completed thanks to grant funding from the organizations mentioned above.
From this period, the Center looked for a balance between its objectives of contributing to the conservation of natural resources through environmental education and the maintenance of its financial sustainability. This was possible by offering services that generated income to maintain the operations. Such process was maintained for several years and the main income-generating component was the organizing and implementing international camps and environmental education workshops.
Around 150 people per year on average participated in these programs and those camps became the most important activity of the CJT, as an income generator as well as to raise awareness on environmental issues at the international level. The activities included in these environmental education programs were mainly aimed to provide the visitors with an opportunity to see some of the natural attractions near the field station, like waterfalls, trails, bird watching, and visits to Corcovado National Park.
These programs also included interactions with youth groups from surrounding communities and visits to tourist attractions in the country, such as Poas Volcano and Manuel Antonio National Park. In addition, these programs had a series of lectures on environmental education and natural history of the area.
By 2008 Fundación Neotrópica, with the initiative of its new Executive Director Bernardo Aguilar(Gonzalez, embarked on a process of restructuring the organization main lines of action: sustainable development and the promotion of community self)management.
For this purpose, the Education, Recreation, Voluntarism and Community Program was created. This unit supports the implementation of environmental education programs both in rural and urban areas, and the development of the field stations and their interaction with their surrounding communities.
As part of this restructuring in April 2009, and in order to respond to new challenges and goals, the station was renamed Center for Studies and Community Empowerment Alvaro Wille Trejos, in honor of the prominent Costa Rican scientist Alvaro Wille Trejos, a pioneer in research on the biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula. The CEEC AWT is Fundacion Neotropica´s most developed field station.
3. Origin of the Educational Programs
With the changes initiated in 2008, the CEEC-AWT intends to disseminate the biological importance of the Osa Peninsula through visits of local and international students and scientists. As part of this process, Fundacion Neotropica decided to design a series of educational programs more accordingly to the new vision, promoting transformative and experiential education through the implementation of these courses. At the same time, these programs contribute to maintaining the financial sustainability of the field station and for its organization in general. These visits promote a healthy cultural interaction, creating an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual learning that strengthens the capacities of each individual.
What are the Educational Programs (EP)?
The EP are programs designed to promote transformative and experiential learning. These programs don’t just provide the participants the opportunity to see exotic and unique places, but also put them in close contact with the social-environmental realities of the areas visited. These programs are “tailor made” and they are adaptable to the academic needs of the group and according to the goals and objectives of the visiting group.
With the implementation of these programs, Fundacion Neotropica is expanding the possibility of incorporating local population of these areas into our work. Members from local communities are the main providers of the activities that are part of these programs. In this way, participants will have close contact with real people and, at the same time, communities will be part of the experience benefiting economically from these activities. This will allow them to have an alternative source of income that will help to improve their quality of life, facilitating a transition to ecological sustainable practices.
Who can participate?
These programs are designed to promote educational and responsible field trips, ecotourism, and rural community tourism in the South ad North Pacific region and the Central Caribbean region of the country through a transformative learning experience.
These programs are offered to national and foreign high school and university student groups who want to expand and complement their studies through a quality educational experience in the Humid Tropics of Costa Rica. The 4 Week Academic Program is designed for under graduate and graduate students in areas related to Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Political Ecology, Ecological Economics, Sustainable Development Studies, and Social & Cultural Studies, etc.
Also, the short term programs are open to anybody who wants to organize a group (minimum 10 people) and be part of an experience that could change their lives.
Fundacion Neotropica offers an exclusive program called Neotropicourses, in two modalities: short term (4 Day) and extended term (10 to 12 day). Also we have 4 week Academic Courses and Neotropoweekends.
4 Week Academic Program on Political Ecology
Also we offer the 4 Week Academic Program on Sustainable Development Studies, Political Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Ecological Economics, and Social & Cultural Studies that prepares students to understand the social and environmental realities of the places visited using a political ecology approach. This approach focuses on socio-ecological conflicts, promoting a transformative experience that helps students to visualize their role in society through hands on activities and close contact with local community members.
The 4 Week Academic Program is for a 10-15 under graduate and graduate students.
4 Week Academic Program on Political Ecology: “Socio-Environmental Conflicts and Sustainability: Case Studies in Costa Rica and Nicaragua”
4 Day Program Neotropicourses Short Term
These programs are a 4-day field trip to the southern zone of Costa Rica.
The activities included in these mini courses will help participants to understand the reality of this region.
Visitors will learn about the development of agriculture, sustainable management practices, and unsustainable management of natural resources. These programs also include field visits to local communities struggling to reach acceptable quality of life by balancing their needs with nature. Also, participants will have the possibility to see one of the most exotic and biologically diverse regions of the country and will enjoy these natural attractions.
“Self – Management Sustainable Development: The Case of the Osa Peninsula, the Reality of the Southern Region of Costa Rica” (Short Term).
“Communities, Agriculture and Sustainable Resource Management in the Osa Península” (Short Term).
10-12 Day Program Neotropicourses Extended Term
These programs provide the participant the opportunity to be immersed in the social, environmental and cultural dynamics of the area. This is achieved through a direct and personal experience of the main natural attractions, interaction with local people and the interpretation of both aspects through educational lectures that facilitate understanding, awareness and appreciation of the characteristics of the region.
At the moment, Fundacion Neotropica has ten examples of Neotropicursos for groups of minimum 10 people and a maximum of 25.
“Community and Biodiversity in the Osa Peninsula” (Extended Term).
“Osa Sea and Land: Social and Biological Diversity of Coastal Marine Ecosystems in the Osa Peninsula” (Extended Term)
“Ecology, Community and Adventure: Camping Experience” (Extended Term).
Neotropiweekends are short field trips during the weekend which provide students, teachers and interested participants, with the opportunity to enjoy time traveling responsibly and contribute to an environmental cause.
“Neotropiweekend Pejivalle de Jimenez”
“Neotropiweekend Costa de Pajaros & Nicoya Gulf”
The proceeds of these recreational/educational activities are funneled directly to small rural community tourism operations and sustainable tourism ventures that have been thoroughly evaluated by Fundación Neotrópica’s team (with 25 years of experience in environmental work). The percentage going to Fundación Neotrópica supports the work of its Centers for Studies and Community Empowerment to improve the community conservation options and the social wellbeing of the region you are visiting.