Our Founders

Rachel and Dwight Crandell

In 2002, conservation visionaries Rachel and Dwight Crandell founded the Monteverde Conservation League U.S., Inc.  (now known as as Friends of the Rainforest), a United States based sister organization to the highly regarded and internationally recognized Monteverde Conservation League (MCL) of Costa Rica.  Together, these organizations are dedicated to supporting, protecting and conserving the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Dedicated environmentalists, Rachel and Dwight were inspired by the example of the Swedish second grade class that took the initiative to begin the Children’s Eternal Rainforest after a 1989 visit to Costa Rica.

Rachel and Dwight Crandell

Rachel, a teacher, decided to engage her own students in efforts to protect the forest and began a program that allowed the children she taught to use their skills in math, letter writing, and activism through fundraising for the forest and corresponding with classes in Costa Rica. Inspired by the quilt that Costa Rica students made to thank the Swedish school children for their pioneering land purchase, Rachel’s class made a quilt of their own to support the forest.

After retiring from teaching in 2002, Rachel decided to devote herself to the project full time and Friends of the Rainforest was created.  Her passion for nature and the wild were evident in talks she gave around the country, filled with anecdotes about her firsthand experiences with bellbirds, howler monkeys, agoutis, foxes, giant strangler fig trees and other species native to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.

Rachel and Dwight CrandellDwight Crandell, the Executive Director of the St. Louis Science Center until 2002, likewise contributed his valuable nonprofit experience, acumen, and generous spirit to Friends of the Rainforest. Dwight retired in 2002 as Executive Director of the St. Louis Science Center.

Working with a volunteer Board of Directors composed of dedicated conservationists and naturalists, the founders pursued a single goal:  supporting the protection and expansion of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and raising awareness of the importance of tropical rainforests.

In their years at the helm, the Crandells lived part-time in their Monteverde cabin, donating their time and services to nearly every aspect of the work, including building and repairing nature centers for visitors to the forest. Sadly, Dwight and Rachel passed away in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Friends of the Rainforest carries on the Crandells work in their memory today, honoring their deep, practical spirituality and the strong underpinning of conservation that grounded their efforts.  Their lives of integrity and dedication to the highest ideals continue to motivate and inspire all who knew them and has provided the foundation from which Friends of the Rainforest has become the successful rainforest conservation advocacy organization that it is today.