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The School for Field Studies’ Farm at The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica, Receives Rainforest Alliance Certification of Sustainable Farm

The United States’ largest environmental study abroad program for college undergraduates announces Costa Rica farm is Rainforest Alliance Certified™

SALEM, MA - November 7, 2011 –
When college undergraduates join The School for Field Studies (SFS) for a semester or summer study abroad experience in Costa Rica, they are not just learning about sustainable development, they are increasing their environmental literacy by living on a Rainforest Alliance Certified sustainable farm.

Just last month, the certification body for Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Farm Certification International awarded the certification to The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies, or SFS Centro de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Sostenible, as it is known in Costa Rica, culminating a 20-month long process ensuring that its farm meets rigorous social and environmental standards. The announcement of the seal comes as the Center celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“We are thrilled to be recognized with this certification, whose principles of sustainable agriculture are congruent with the objectives and values of the Center and the School,” said SFS Interim President Jack Waggett.

Rainforest Alliance Certified farms meet the standards set by the Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN), the oldest and largest coalition of independent, nonprofit groups dedicated to the conservation of trees, wildlife, and ecosystems in the tropics. The SFS Center’s farm certification status ensures a study abroad site where biodiversity is protected, staff rights are respected, mangoes, oranges, and garden crops are grown in a context of respect for the environment, and the local community benefits from the Center’s research and outreach programs.

“With this certification, the entire Center and its farm become a powerful educational tool for students, the staff, and the local community. The nature of the certification is integrative; it looks not only at production and operational processes, but also at the role and community footprint of our Center in Atenas, and in Costa Rica,” said SFS Center Director Gerardo Avalos, Ph.D.

Opened in 1991, the Center began with a focus on conservation of protected areas, the responsible management of agro-ecosystems, and the possibilities for sustainable development of grassroots grower cooperatives. Since its inception, the Center’s students, faculty, and staff have worked closely with a wide variety of stakeholders from government ministries to local coffee growing cooperatives in identifying and promoting strategies for sustainable development in Costa Rica.

“The timing of this certification couldn’t be more perfect – as SFS celebrates its 30th year in the field and our Costa Rican Center marks its 20th anniversary, we commemorate the deep impact that the SFS community has made in improving the management and conservation of natural resources across the globe,” added Waggett.


About The School for Field Studies For more than 30 years, The School for Field Studies (SFS), the nation's oldest and largest environmental study abroad program for college undergraduates, has combined hands-on, multi-disciplinary environmental studies with scientific research to propose sustainable solutions to critical environmental problems. SFS students work with local communities to discover practical ways to manage their natural resources, and in the process undergo a transformational experience that helps them to advance their careers as skilled professionals and to become globally aware citizens.

SFS offers a Rainforest Studies program in Australia, as well as a Himalayan Forests, Watersheds, and Rural Livelihoods study abroad program in the Kingdom of Bhutan; Wildlife Management Studies and Public Health in the East African nations of Kenya and Tanzania; and Marine Resource Management Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies. The School's headquarters are located in Salem, Massachusetts.


About the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Certification Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM
Rainforest Alliance certification is built on the three pillars of sustainability - environmental protection, social equity, and economic viability. No single pillar can support long-term success on its own, so Rainforest Alliance helps farmers succeed in all three areas. Since 1992, when it began in Costa Rica, the certification program has spread to 25 tropical countries around the world where the well-being of millions of farmers and workers and countless wildlife species is at stake. More than two million farmers, farm workers and their families directly benefit from Rainforest Alliance certification.



Leslie Granese

Scott Lamer