Hacienda Ario is committed to sustainable development in the Nicoya Peninsula and is engaging in reforestation programs as well as implementing organic agricultural practices with the goal of receiving a certification from the Rainforest Alliance for sustainable agriculture and ranching. Hacienda Ario is also the first large-scale ranch to be certified by the Sustainable Blue Flag Program (Bandera Azul), a government program for climate change mitigation (NOTE: Costa Rica has the goal of becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2021). From this desire to promote sustainability on all fronts, CIRENAS was established in 2007. Since its founding, CIRENAS has hosted more than 1,000 students of all ages, faculty, scientists, and others in a variety of programs emphasizing sustainable living and transformational cross-cultural experiences. These programs–short courses, research trips, and semester programs for high school students–have been hosted on a campus that once served as the Grew Family home. Now, with a proven model, CIRENAS is poised to expand and take its program to the next level, building a new campus slightly north of the current location, and launching the next chapter of its programming.
CIRENAS offers a range of courses for students of all ages. Courses include opportunities for Spanish immersion, experiential education, outdoor leadership, tropical biology, sustainability, environmental conservation, social responsibility, and service learning.
CIRENAS believes in engaging students in activities and discussions that force them to question how we live now and how we can live more responsibly. We provide opportunities to engage with the natural world through observation and exploration, and to encourage them to identify challenges, create solutions, and acquire transferrable skills. Our goal is not to create the next generation of environmental warriors but rather the next generation of empathetic, resilient, and mindful leaders. We are committed to providing our students the kinds of powerful experiences on Hacienda Ario and in neighboring communities that will inspire students to change the way we lead, educate, do business, and govern.
CIRENAS subscribes to the principles of the Earth Charter and seeks to familiarize students with philosophies of sustainability education. As such, students at CIRENAS are innovators and change makers and we foster innovation through asking questions. Our goal is not to point fingers at other forms of education and say they are wrong; rather we intend to offer positive alternatives that will infuse students with a reverence for the connections between nature, learning, and community.