To be a leading example locally and internationally

in wildlife conservation through our research, sustainability, and educational programs 


Then, her worst fears were realized. The increasing interest Ostional and Nosara had gained as tourism destinations brought masses of tourists onto the beach in September 2015, disrupting nesting sea turtles in an event covered by international media. Ostional was in  the spotlight and immediate action on a broad scope of related issues was required to protect sea turtles at this site. Something needed to be done. After reaching out to colleagues and looking at examples of sustainable tourism and successful conservation around the world, Vanessa came up with a plan to develop programming and generate revenue for conservation in the area.

Fifteen years ago, our founder Vanessa Bézy came to Costa Rica for the first time on a study abroad experience that ignited her passion for wildlife conservation. Her interest in conservation brought her back to Costa Rica repeatedly, before finally moving to the country full-time in 2015. Her first experience with sea turtles was volunteering in a sea turtle project in Matapalo in 2008, a moment where she realized she wanted to devote her life to the protection of this species. She conducted her Masters and Ph.D. research on sea turtles at the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, noticing that sea turtles were nesting on other beaches of the Refuge in addition to the main nesting beach at Ostional. As a result, she started monitoring their activity and offering educational talks at local schools and businesses, leading to the creation of her first non-profit TortuGuiones, for which she quickly became known as “the turtle lady” in town.

Vanessa during her PhD research in 2017

In her efforts to make this a reality, Vanessa reached out to several other community leaders with the proposal, but it wasn't until she got in touch with Steve Mack that things really began to move forward. Steve had lived and worked in Costa Rica since 1989, during which time he was the director of a successful campaign to raise $18 million for nature conservation on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula in addition to co-founding the first organization in Latin America dedicated to the development of environmental law. Since 2013, Steve has worked as the Executive Director of the Guanacaste Community Fund, a trust fund with the objective of linking people investing in improving the quality of life in Guanacaste with organizations working with the community that share the same goal. Steve was the perfect match for the initiative.

Steve and Vanessa worked closely together to develop a strategic plan focused on raising awareness, establishing synergies and uniting efforts with other existing organizations in the area and looking for investors and donors. As a result, the Wildlife Conservation Association was established in 2018 as a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wildlife conservation in the area. Since then, many collaborating partners and individuals have joined the cause, making what was once only a dream a reality that many other community members and organizations have embraced.

Steve Mack, Executive Director of the Guanacaste Community Fund

At present, the Wildlife Conservation Association has implemented programs to promote sustainable living amongst the local, expat and tourist community through conservation, research, education, community outreach and sustainable development and tourism.

But our ambition goes further. Following many other successful examples around the world, we want to establish a Center that will house all of our activities all the while offering a unique and awe-inspiring experience to visitors that we hope will contribute to increasing conservation efforts locally and internationally.

“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help.”

Jane Goodall

 Board of   Directors 


Vanessa Bézy, Ph.D.

Conservation Biologist

Vice President

Roberto Quirós

Professor, Del Mar Academy


Gerardo Brenes


Guiones Legal Services


Steve Mack

Executive Director, Guanacaste Community Fund

Founding Members and Partners

Campaign Advisor

Jennifer Thurman

Director of Development,

Oklahoma Contemporary

Program Coordinator

Carlos Clemente 

Founder and Director, Progresa Consultoria

Business Advisor 

Michel Bézy, Ph.D.

Professor and Associate Director,

Carnegie Mellon University-Africa

Marketing Advisor

Franny Suarez

Account Associate, Brew Advisors

Stakeholder Analysis

Gabriel Coronado

Co-Founder and Manager, Synergy Action Consultants

Organizational Development

Nice Alterman

Organizational Development Consulting, California Consortium of Education Foundations

Government Relations

Emel Rodriguez

Director of Forestry Programs and Biological Corridors, ACT, SINAC

Community Relations

Ethel Araya

Community Projection and Sustainability Manager, Harmony Projects

Educational Programming

Jessica Sheffield

Co-founder and Director of Sustainability, Del Mar Academy

Educational Programming

Michelle Libby

Founder and President, Earth Equilibrium

Community Service and Tourism

Jennifer Simmons

Founder and President, Conocer

Real Estate Advisor

Nathaniel Jackson 

Realtor, Wanderlust Realty

Annual Reports

Fiscal Sponsors

Tax-deductible donations can be made in Costa Rica, the United States, and Canada through our fiscal sponsorships with the Guanacaste Community Fund, Amigos of Costa Rica,

and the International Canadian Fund for Conservation.


Collaborating Partners

The Wildlife Conservation Association works in close collaboration with individuals and organizations who share our mission and empower us by offering monetary or in-kind support.

Protected Areas

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How can YOU help?


Our work is made possible by generous donors. Donate to the cause and help us ensure a sustainable future for the Ostional Refuge.


Partnering with organizations with similar goals allows us to join efforts and make a bigger difference.