On Saturday October 28th, the SCLC will host a memorial to honor Bertha Carter and her lasting contributions to the Center that came to life from her vision.
The SCLC was founded in 1993 with the help and support of Giovanna Holbrook, founder of Selva Verde Lodge & Private Reserve. Bertha, a co-pioneer and close friend of Giovanna’s, played a major role in the early days of Selva Verde. Having a background in nursing and social work proved useful and Bertha became the Lodge’s first manager. During that time Bertha became well known in the communities of Sarapiquí and Chilamate as a supporter of educational opportunities for local youth as well as a voice for empowerment of women in the region. After several years of working and growing the Selva Verde Lodge, Bertha approached Mrs. Holbrook about establishing a library with the purpose of providing local people access to knowledge, information and opportunities. Mrs. Holbrook shared Bertha’s vision and agreed to build the Center on the grounds of the Lodge, where it still stands today.
The SCLC’S Mission
The Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center became operational in 1993, and today is registererd with both the United States and Costa Rica, as a fully independent non-profit organization. The SCLC focuses its efforts in four areas—environmental education, community development, conservation and tourism. The overall mission being to help foster the growth of future environmental leaders, raise the organizational capacity of local communities, promote sustainable land use, and connect tourists with local communities. To accomplish these goals the SCLC has created several programs including: environmental education, rural tourism activities, English classes, community outreach, women’s groups, and more—programs that are mutually beneficial to community members and tourists and create opportunities for cultural exchange. The programs, led by international volunteers and community members, serve hundreds of local people and thousands of eco-tourists each year.
Bertha’s Dream Realized
The SCLC as whole is a library, in that it provides access to information and opportunity; however it’s also a library in the traditional sense and currently houses over 3,000 volumes of books. The Biblioteca Publica Sarapiquí-Heredia, part of the SCLC, continues to grow and now includes a computer-based digital library. The Center is also officially “Intelligent Center,” with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MICITT) and provides access to internet, and technology services, as part of national effort to provide digital access to rural communities. With 15 new computers, the Center will be able offer courses in dirver’s education, online courses and a program for the blind. The Center also runs a Mobil Library, which brings reading workshops into local communities with limited access.
All in all the Center is thriving and Bertha’s legacy will continue to prosper in her memory. This Saturday the 28th we will join together to celebrate Bertha Carter, a woman whose life is a testament to the power of dreams dared to be realized.