Our History

“It’s a mission that I feel with every fiber of my being, a mission that God entrusted to me. That’s why I do it with all the love in the world”, says Jessica Sheffield Zamora, creator of the Children’s Guardians of Nature movement, a nonprofit initiative with a firm conviction to inspire little ones to grow up identified as guardians of natural resources. It is the most effective way to generate changes that positively impact our planet.

“The initiative goes beyond empowering children to be Guardians of Nature. We work for an integral vision, a way of seeing life: supportive, grateful, kind and brave children in the face of life’s challenges, little ones in peace with themselves, and with all life on the planet. How do we do it? The key is to provide the necessary tools to children and teachers to boost this vision of life, ”says Jessica.

This marine biologist grew up in Belén, Heredia, Costa Rica, and her love for nature started from adolescence. After her university studies and conducting watershed conservation projects with young people in high school in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, she left for the United States to obtain a master’s degree in Natural Resources Management, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship.

Upon her return from the US in 2005, she moved to a coastal community in the North Pacific of Costa Rica. “My love for children and nature immediately prompted me to get involved in local Nosara schools, to educate the youngsters to care for our natural resources,” says Jessica. Two years after moving to Nosara, she and her husband welcomed the arrival of their first born, Kai. The effort her parents made to provide her the opportunity of a good education is something for which she will always be grateful. “Education opened many doors for me and I wanted to give that to my children and the children of the community.”  That dream soon became a reality as she co-founded Del Mar Academy, a Montessori – IB school in the middle of Nosara’s dry tropical forest.  

Del Mar Academy

Del Mar Academy opened its doors in 2007 with only 17 children, and by 2019 the student population had already grown to 270 students of more than 20 nationalities, from age 18 months to grade twelve. Environmental education, creativity, ethics, leadership, the joy of learning and the love for life are essential parts of the school’s mission. The academy encourages students to believe in their own power to make positive changes.
 

At the end of 2018, Del Mar Academy became a non-profit Foundation. It is the working, hans-on  laboratory of Guardians of Nature.

“Over the years I understood the immense need for environmental education tools in Spanish for children and teachers, especially in the rural area. That’s why I decided to write my first children’s book in 2017, The Guardian of Nature and her Friends Save the River. ” This book tells the story of a nine-year-old girl, Lucia who loves nature, but believes that she is too small to help protect it. Now, it is the first in a series of children’s literature that reflect some of the characteristics of our humanity: the loss of faith, the recovery of hope, inspiration and conquest of a dream, and the awakening of the eternal rebirth of life, which is beautifully illustrated by his sister-in-law, Shannon McWhirter.

Jessica y Shannon

“From the conception of the idea, I determined that the main mission of this series and all the support material created, would be to reach thousands of children and teachers in rural and marginal areas ato no cost,” says Jessica. In less than 2 years, the Guardians of Nature and her friends Save the River was donated to more than 10,000 children in Guanacaste, and for many of them it is their first illustrated book.

With much love and eenthusiasm, the initiative has continued to grow. People, organizations, municipalities and companies have joined the cause through the Chain of Favors. The free educational platform for teachers is already working, a pilot project is underway to consolidate public-private partnerships to improve rural educational centers, as well as the impact on hundreds of teachers and thousands of children. These are just some of the great achievements of this initiative, with the ultimate dream of creating a worldwide movement of children who are Guardians of Nature.

Chain of favours

Both the author of the children’s series of the Guardian of Nature (Jessica Sheffield Zamora), and her illustrator (Shannon McWhirter) decided to donate their work so that the soft-paste book reaches thousands of Costa Rican children at no cost. The hardcover book is offered for sale, and by it’s purchase, helps to fund donated, Pay it Foward softcover books. Many children in rural areas grow up without books, and La Guardiana books could be the first illustrated book in many Costa Rican homes.

Many people have already joined the Chain of Favors by donating their talent and knowledge to strengthen the initiative.

We are earnestly working to see that this initiative continues to grow through collaboration, filled by the generosity and love of more and more people who believe in the vision of the initiative; those who want to build a planet where peace with ourselves, peace with other people, and peace with the planet reigns.