Celebrating a New Generation of Conservation Practitioners for the Western Hemisphere


Graduation Day. Credit: Jeannette Solano

On December 5th, 2014, the first cohort of students with a Master’s in Conservation Practice graduated from Costa Rica’s Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE). CATIE’s program, which is supported b ythe U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) International Affairs (IA) Program, places an emphasis on delivering biodiversity conservation in a participatory, equitable and sustainable manner. This new degree program was developed to provide interdisciplinary and hands-on training to meet the needs of emerging conservation leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Nationalities represented among students of CATIE's
Master's in Conservation Practice, 2013-2015



Students attending CATIE’s Master’s in Conservation Practice from 2013-2015 represent ten nations, a strong testament to the program’s international appeal. Students learn practical skills that enable them to engage in meaningful projects with communities, farmers, and businesses located in priority areas for biodiversity conservation – buffer zones, biological corridors and productive areas. These skills are important not just to Costa Rica, but to the region at large. Students returning to their home countries will bring important knowledge and skills, as well as viable methods and tools to address biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in their local area.


Fieldwork is a major component of the new
Master's program. Credit: Mildred Jiménez

Since 1983, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s International Affairs (IA) Program has provided critical support to efforts to conserve and manage biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Strengthening the ability of people and organizations to implement conservation programs in a manner that takes their local economy and culture into account has been a priority for the IA Program. The Service has supported CATIE’s Master’s in Conservation Practice since the start of its first cohort in 2012, to enhance the knowledge and skills of these students to become conservation leaders in their regions and around the world.

Are you interested in a career in conservation? Check out these interviews with a few of CATIE’s recent graduates to find out what inspired them!