About Us

Sustainable Development and Environmental Problems Require Interdisciplinary Solutions
Interdisciplinary Thinking is the Core of Our Approach


Dr. Sam Ham - Communication Psychology and International Conservation - Board of AdvisorsDr. Sam Ham – is Professor Emeritus of communication psychology and international conservation in the University of Idaho’s Department of Conservation Social Sciences. Sam’s research has focused on the role of interpretation in parks, protected areas and sustainable tourism destinations and in applying communication theory to heritage and nature-based tour guiding, travelers’ philanthropy, and other free-choice learning settings. In the past 20 years, his research on the strategic use of interpretation to enhance visitor experience and to influence visitor behavior has led to significant advances in protected area management across the globe.am has authored two of the world’s leading texts on applied interpretation, including his newest book, Interpretation—Making a Difference on Purpose and the worldwide best-seller, Environmental Interpretation—A Practical Guide for People with Big Ideas and Small Budgets, both of which have been published in four languages. He also has authored nearly 400 other publications and has presented in excess of 50 keynote addresses at professional conferences and symposia. Sam’s training in applied communication has reached more than 50,000 people across North America and in 48 other countries. He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards for his teaching and training, including the NAI Fellow Award, University of Idaho’s Excellence in Outreach Award, and the University of Idaho’s Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest honor bestowed by the university on one of its own faculty members. In 2007, he was honored by Clemson University with the William C. Everhart Award for his lifetime contributions to environmental and heritage interpretation across the world.

Dr. John Agard - Professor of Tropical Ecology - Board of Advisors

Dr. John Agard – Is Professor of Tropical Ecology and former Chair of the Life Sciences Department at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad.  Dr. Agard’s Public Service background includes:

  • Lead Author, Small Islands- Chapter, Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report.
  • Member Independent Advisory Group (IAG) on Environmental and Sustainability Safeguards Policy to the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Washington D.C., USA
  • Member, Research Committee, IwokramaInternational Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, Guyana.
  • Member, Caribbean Sea Commission, Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
  • Member CARICOMClimate Change Task Force.
  • Chairman, Board of Directors, Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (EMA).
  • Member, Board of Directors and Trustee, The Cropper Foundation (TCF), Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr. Agard’s On-going Research Projects include:

  • Project for Ecosystem Services (ProEcoServe)
  • Global-Local-Socio-economic Climate Change Scenarios for the Caribbean (GoLoCarSce)
  • Nariva Swamp Restoration and Carbon Sequestration Project – Trinidad

Dr. Tom Wake - Anthropolgy, Natural History, Tropical Research - Board of AdvisorsDr. Tom Wake – A native of Los Angeles, California, Dr. Wake is currently the Director of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA – an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and has been at UCLA since 1996.  He is a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI), a Research Associate at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in the divisions of Ichthyology, Herpetology and Anthropology and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Tropical Research and the La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science in the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Dr. Wake received his doctorate from UC Berkeley in 1995 after studying zooarchaeology and ethnicity at Fort Ross in northern California.  Dr. Wake has worked with several UCLA faculty, graduate students and researchers on projects in China, Egypt, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Easter Island and California.  Since 2003 Dr. Wake has been running an archaeological field research project in Caribbean coastal Bocas del Toro, Panama at a site called Sitio Drago in association with STRI.  Findings from this project have illustrated that the region was much more dynamic and far less isolated than previously thought.  Dr. Wake recently (2010) received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study how Formative Period vertebrate subsistence practices relate to political cycling in the Pacific coastal Guatemala/Mexico borderlands region.

Mrs. Denecia Grant

Mrs. Denecia Grant – Denecia Grant is a born Trinidadian- American based Environmental Educator (EE), who is dedicated to teaching about conservation, and has a profound respect for the natural world. As an Environmental Educator she has organized substantial efforts to teach how the natural environment functions, and more particularly, how human beings can manage behavior and ecosystems to live sustainably.

At the age of 16, Denecia represented her high school at environmental conservation debates hosted by the Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, while writing about human dimension impacts on the environment in the school’s monthly papers. Her efforts to educate on conservation continued at the age of 18 when she was accepted into the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry (E.C.I.A.F.) as a Forestry student. However, it was not until she conducted research and wrote her senior paper (Preliminary water quality analysis of the Guayamare River and its effects on the Caroni Swamp) that she truly understood how much of a need there was for conservation education.

Denecia’s tipping point came in 2008 when she was selected as a National Scholar of Trinidad and Tobago and given the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, USA. Upon the completion of her B.Sc in Forestry with a specialization in Hydrology she returned to Trinidad. Her professional journey began as an Associate Professional at the Water and Sewerage Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (W.A.S.A.), where she assisted with the initial phase of what is now a highly successful water conservation program known as “Adopt-A-River- Trinidad and Tobago”.

Denecia Grant shifted gears and steered her focus towards the Forestry Division of Trinidad and Tobago. While there she sat on the ‘National Tree Selection Committee’ and spent a great amount of her time identifying problems within the national park system through monitoring and evaluation assessments which assisted in the implementation of a more robust national park development framework for Trinidad. She founded community projects such a community-wide recycling and greening initiative while holding a critical position on the Community Management Council for the Tabaquite/ Talparo Regional Constituency.

Denecia later stood at the forefront of the first National Consumer Behavior Change Campaign at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago as the Environmental Coordinator. She spent this time at the Ministry presenting a nation-wide shift into living sustainably by conserving water and energy, reducing consumption and investing in the local economy.

In Michigan, she is now a well articulated speaker on consumer behavior change, conservation, water and energy consumption reduction, the benefits of greenways and creating livable communities.


Greenleaf Education Costa Rica S.A.– Non-discrimination Policy          01 Sept. 2015 

Greenleaf Education Costa Rica does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), physical or mental ability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers or vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, members, contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, and in our dealings with the general public.

Greenleaf Education Costa Rica does not discriminate in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, training, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or applicant on the bases of race, color, ethnicity, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), physical or mental ability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.

Steven Greenleaf leading a group of students from North American Universities on Water Policy and Environmental Problem Solving
Steven Greenleaf leading a group of students from North American Universities on Water Policy and Environmental Problem Solving

We prepare you for real world challenges


Sustainability and Environment

Greenleaf Education Costa Rica was founded by Steven Greenleaf with the advice and assistance of family, colleagues, former students, teachers, mentors and friends who all share the desire to make the world a better place – people who are committed to building a better future.

The goal of Greenleaf Education Costa Rica is to make the greatest possible impact on creating this better future. The best way for us to accomplish this is through educating and assisting others who are on their own paths forward, whether they are students or politicians, landowners or community leaders, activists or business owners, or teachers themselves.

Applied solutions to real life problems are our focus.

We have gathered and synthesized years of experience from leaders in the environmental and sustainable development movements around the world and identified the most important skills and tools needed to build success and leadership.

The members of our Board of Advisers have shared their knowledge and continue to help to refine our course offerings and review our curricula while also serving to council and strengthen our network of friends and collaborators. All of this serves to give our students access to a special network of mentors, collaborators and friends who have proven their effectiveness, and which will help each student or client to grow professionally. We are growing a team of difference makers.

About Us

IKIGAI - That which gets you out of bed i the morningPassion +Mission +Profession + Vocation         Ikigai exists at the crossroads of these four paths. Helping our students to find this convergence in their lives and build on it, both for their own sake, and for the benefit of a sustainable future is our central goal. Our intention is to help our students and partners gave the greatest positive impact on the future by their deeds, generating applied solutions to real problems.

Whether at the global level as a policy maker or activist, the regional level as a leader in Cradle to Cradle manufacturing or Green business development, or at the intimate community level working for social justice and the rights of indigenous peoples, all paths can lead to a better future.

Our role is to help our students refine their targets, build their skills, and get results. We will push you, challenge you, question your assertions, and broaden your perspectives. We will also support you and your efforts long after your course is complete – we are building a community of difference makers.

Photo of Steven Greenleaf

Steven Greenleaf

Steven Greenleaf is the Founder and Director of Greenleaf Education Costa Rica.  He believes that Greenleaf Education Costa Rica can best be a part of building a better future is by helping others to become more effective and successful in their commitments to creating a sustainable, prosperous, and just future.

Originally from Berkeley, California, Steven has worked as an educator, natural resource management consultant, environmental policy adviser and consultant, builder, rancher, and firefighter. Interdisciplinary approaches to environmental and sustainable development problem solving is his specialty.

“I believe that the world faces serious challenges which endanger ecosystems and particularly put at-risk populations under critical pressures. We need serious people generating effective solutions and we need them now, the global clock is ticking.Climate change, resource consumption, declining biodiversity, pollution and more must urgently be tackled while creating prosperity, building sustainable economies and communities, and growing social justice.  I believe the role of Greenleaf Education Costa Rica is to be a catalyst for positive change through supporting and cultivating the skills of the people who join us.”    

Mr. Greenleaf was the Technical Advisor to the Minister of Legal Affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago where his duties included policy development and analysis, project planning and management, speechwriting and public speaking. Mr. Greenleaf conceived, planned and implemented the “ONE T&T” National Consumer Environmental Education Campaign.

Steven was the Chairman of the Congress of the People (a national political party and partner in the former coalition government of Trinidad and Tobago) Green Policy Committee for three years, developing policy recommendations for the Party’s National agenda and advising Ministers and Members of the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on environmental and development strategies, practices, and legislation.

“We have the opportunity now to remake the ways we live together, live in the world, make things, and build things –  while helping the most vulnerable – those who cannot fight for themselves. Win – win opportunities are everywhere.”

Steven has presented at many different international, regional and national forums related to environment, energy, green building and sustainable development including:

  • National Forum on Alternative Energy 2014 at the Universidad Tecnica Nacional, Costa Rica (in Spanish)
  • Board Members, Executives and Technical Staff of ARESEP – La Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos
  • Caribbean Trade and Investment Conference, Trinidad (twice)
  • Revenue Management in Hydrocarbon Economies Conference, Trinidad
  • Caribbean Youth Climate Change Forum
  • University of the West Indies “Trinidad and Tobago at 50,” Conference
  • Trinidad and Tobago / University of the West Indies National Conference on Environmental Management 2011
  • Numerous media appearances including on national television in Trinidad, and hosted “the Green Hour,” an educational and                                        call-in radio show on environmental topics on MORE FM Radio, Trinidad
  • Scores of presentations at universities, schools, churches, Rotary clubs, community organizations and environmental forums

Steven has taught Sustainability in Civil Engineering for Herriot Watt University / School of Higher Education – Trinidad, a Masters Degree level course for professional engineers.

Steven Greenleaf is also the President of the Caribbean Institute of Sustainability, a non profit organization dedicated to the sustainable development and protection of the environment of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region.

Mr. Greenleaf was Managing Director of Trinity EcoDevelopment Ltd., a construction services and environmental consulting firm in Trinidad and Tobago.

He has provided professional consulting services to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Tourism Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Development Bank, and to private sector clients.

Steven is a member of the Green Building Council Costa Rica and formerly was the Vice-President for Public Relations of the Trinidad and Tobago Green Building Council.

Mr. Greenleaf studied Conservation of Natural Resources at the University of California – Berkeley, and Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation at Humboldt State University.