‘We must prepare twenty-first century students to be knowledgeable, compassionate citizens and effective leaders within a rapidly transforming world ‘(Casa Verde).

Are you adventurous, inspiring and looking for a challenge? Are you tired of only learning about environmental issues from a text book or council flyer? Then this is the perfect opportunity to be inspired to learn and understand more about environmental issues in a way that’s innovative and exciting. Whilst doing your bit around the home is a step in the right direction, if we really want to change general attitudes surrounding sustainable living, and understand the reasons for such changes, the best possible type of action is to experiment and practise for ourselves. You may now be about to discard this article thinking that, without a degree in sustainable development or any prior experience in environmental education you won’t find any available opportunities. But think again, for perhaps we have exactly what you need!

Having purchased farmland, in the south-western coastal range of Nicaragua in the small village of El Limón in 2008, Amie Riley and her husband moved permanently from the United States and began developing the land. Their aim was to create an international self-sustaining educational centre to cater to travellers and students who are keen to develop as both global citizens and sustainable individuals. Since then, through nurturing close links with the Nicaraguan community, such as local cooperatives, families and international non-governmental organizations, they have created ‘Casa Verde’. This year has seen the completion of basic facilities on an open-air living site and April 2011 sees the launch of their Green Scholars program. They’re looking for open-minded, motivated students to take up this ideal opportunity to explore the thriving ecosystem that Central America has to offer.

As director of Casa Verde, Amie Riley describes the center’s ethos, ‘We are motivated by the belief that education is the foundation for true innovation and social change, Casa Verde is creating a generation of outrageous and inspired young leaders that will stop at nothing to create new and more effective ways of living in the world.’ In this way, the all-inclusive spring program will provide volunteers with a varied range of knowledge and skills, which will enable them to head in many directions once leaving Casa Verde. This ranges from continuing environmental experimentation as an educational ambassador to anthropological research, to increasing people’s awareness through journalism.

The team at Casa Verde also pride themselves on their close ties with the local Nicaraguan community and all students will be guided to truly engage themselves. It is Casa Verde’s long-term aim to integrate as many of the community as possible in order to inspire and create entrepreneurial job development. In this way, Casa Verde sets themselves apart from other volunteer or study abroad programs through their genuine investment in their neighborhood and region.

This spring, Casa Verde’s Green Scholars program has the potential to provide you with a unique opportunity to experience hands-on techniques of alternative and sustainable environmental practices. With its exciting launch, they’re looking for inspired, creative and genuine individuals to join them on their mission to develop creative and globalized leaders that will extend awareness across the boundaries of nations and cultures. This is an innovative and adventurous way to travel in Central America and it’s definitely possible to raise the money before departure (fundraising strategies will be posted on the Facebook!).

Think you’re up to the challenge? For further information on prices and the project, visit their website at www.casaverdeconnects.com or join them on Facebook (Casa Verde).  Look out for posters around town too!


Vicky Hirst