SONATI is a non-profit environmental education organization dedicated to propagating environmental awareness and promoting love and care for the environment through widespread free environmental education programs for local school children. SONATI empowers children with knowledge and tools to become a voice for environmental change in their communities.
SONATI works in a self-sustainable manner, using its non-profit environmental hostels & tours to finance its environmental programs.
SONATI model: sustainability & monetary responsibility
The common problem:
Non-profits rely on the good will of donors for their existence, constantly asking for money to maintain their activities, important as they may be.
At SONATI we implement a successful business model into the non-profit model; we create a competitive business with non-profit ethics. Our business doesn't have an owner, and profits do not finance private wealth. Instead we invest profits to finance our environmental projects.
At SONATI we rely on donations only to establish new SONATI sites where we implement a sustainable model, so such a donation is a one-time gift that lasts forever!
The NGOs "fame":
Too often money finances too many administrative costs and too few actual activities.
Activities are the first priority. All salaries at SONATI are modest local salaries, which are certainly not high according to local standards. Presently, the highest salary at SONATI (director post) is $300/month.
The mission of SONATI is to encourage environmental stewardship and preservation, and to promote responsible environmental projects through education programs, community outreach, and self-sustaining resources.
- To increase knowledge, love and care toward the environment.
- To empower community members with the tools and knowledge to take action in their communities and become a voice for environmental change.
- To become a resource for leadership development for environmental change.
- To create programs in different sites, with sites cooperating with one another in an international arena.
The staff of SONATI León
Karin Mayorga: environmental education coordinator.
I am involved in environmental and social activities since I was a child. I was a guide at the scouts of Leon, during the university I participated in environmental conferences in Iceland (Ice Climate Education program) and in Germany. I arrived to SONATI to participate in the nature guiding course and worked as a volunteer in the environmental programs, until becoming a SONATI staff member.
I studied Tourism; in my free time I enjoy being in the outdoors with my friends.
Tess Bradley: hostel manager.
Growing up on a mountain near the forest, my love for nature started early and has continued to grow throughout my life. I began to participate in environmental conservation efforts at the University of Tennessee, where I studied Hotel and Tourism Management. Since graduating, I have been working for non-profits and doing volunteer work. When I saw the job posting to manage SONATI´s Environmental Hostel it seemed perfect; combining my passions for nature, conservation, hiking, tourism, and children. Although I am not directly involved in the school programs, I am grateful to be working for an organization that is helping to create positive change and increase knowledge on why and how to conserve our beautiful planet.
Meghan Monigold: trekking &tours manager.
I was born and raised in small town Minnesota, which couldn't be further from an ocean, and yet I always dreamed of being a Marine Biologist. I went to schools at The School of Environmental Studies on the Minnesota Zoo grounds where I explored my passion for nature, conservation and biology. This is also where I was bitten by the travel bug during an intensive 2 week theme class to the Yucatan Peninsula to study ecology and culture. In college my direction changed to pursue art as a career with a degree in Graphic Design, but ultimately I ended up back with the love of my life, Travel.
This love has taken me around the world and is where I have been happily for almost 10 years. I have worked with everyone from student backpackers to 5* celebrities and have lived all over the US and abroad in Costa Rica for 2 years. My experience as a Travel Agent and Retail Manager with STA Travel in Minneapolis and Sales Manager with Albee Adventures in San Jose, Costa Rica has given me the knowledge and experience to help SONATI Tours grow and our clients to enjoy Nicaragua.
Cristhiam Osmar Berríos Montes: guide.
I arrived to SONATI to participate in the nature guiding course and worked as a volunteer in the environmental programs, until becoming a SONATI staff member. I am involved in all SONATI environmental activities. I studied Biology and enjoy bird-watching and singing.
Meyling Berrios: hostel receptionist.
I like meeting people from different cultures and to help them enjoy our beautiful city of Leon, and as a receptionist I have plenty of such opportunities. I always appreciated the work SONATI does and i am very happy I can use my professional knowledge to be part of this project that makes a positive change. I studied Tourism.
Raquel Acosta: guide.
I am very happy to form part of the SONATI family. I work with children at the environmental programs and feel that it is a very good platform to create a real environmental change with the children. I studied Social Communications at university and was always interested in the actions we can do to make this world a better place. Before SONATI I worked as a journalist in TV channel.
Flor de María Pantoja: hostel cleaning.
I am a very social person and love to help others. I also love to meet and chat with our guests and learn about other cultures. I like to join SONATI activities in the outdoors, when they are not too difficult. I am 39 years old and have 3 children.
Volunteers of SONATI León
Alexander Morales, Leon, Nicaragua:
I am involved in SONATI environmental activities since 2009, I feel happy to help these activities knowing that I help to promote respect and love toward the nature. Beside SONATI I was also involved in other environmental groups in Leon: ASIJUL and Ara-Macao. I studied economics.
Bismarck Soto, Leon, Nicaragua:
My love to nature attracted me to SONATI, where I work in different environmental activities as volunteer. Currently I study tourism at the university at Leon; in my free time I like to hear music and be outside at nature.
Clara Weskamm, Germany:
I am involved with recycling projects and environmental education activities for pre-school children. I always loved nature and after finished my high school studies in Germany I decided to volunteer 1 year with SONATI through the Weltwarts program of GIZ.
Jacob Kuntzsch, Germany:
I am involved with recycling projects with schools and other projects in SONATI where I can use my painting and design talents. After finished my high school studies in Germany I decided to volunteer 1 year with SONATI through the Weltwarts program of GIZ.
Jonas Freist-Held, Germany:
I am a student for political sciences at Berlin, Germany; I help SONATI as a graphic design volunteer. After finishing my high school at Germany I volunteered 1 year with SONATI through the GIZ Weltwarts programs. Once coming back to Germany I decided to continue help SONATI from Germany; I am very happy to be able to continue helping though I am far away geographically.
Lisa Batuski, USA:
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer, living here in Leon (for 2 years), working primarily, as an English teacher at a local public high school. In addition, I volunteer on a bi-weekly basis at SONATI as the English Teacher for the two Environment Leadership Programs and I also teach a weekly Tourism-English class for all of the SONATI Staff. I love languages and I especially love teaching kids.I love to meet new people, talk, laugh (a lot!), cook, learn, and I love fruits and sweets (especially chocolate!).
Lucy Drost, Netherlands:
Hostel receptionist. With a background in hospitality and experience in social & cultural projects, SONATI is the perfect place for me to work as a volunteer. It feels good to be part of a great team of enthusiastic professionals and volunteers and to contribute to the mission of SONATI. I really love Nicaragua, with it´s interesting history, culture, beautiful people and amazing nature! In my free time, I like to explore more of ´este hermoso pais, del lagos y volcanes´!
Muriel Gröne, Germany:
I carry out different environmental education activities for pre-school children, as well as recycling projects with school children. I love nature and working with children and was involved in different environmental organizations in Germany. After finished my high school studies in Germany I decided to volunteer 1 year at SONATI through the GIZ´s Weltwarts program.
The staff of SONATI Estelí
Belkin Soza: Environmental education coordinator. I love the environmental ideology and methodology that SONATI promote in Nicaragua, and feel proud to be responsible over the environmental programs in and around Esteli. I studied sustainable tourism and was involved in different programs to promote ecotourism and cultural activities in northern Nicaragua. I am a very friendly and responsible person; at my free time I like to visit different natural and archeological sites and learn about the local culture.
Maddalena Landimarino: Hostel manager. I arrived to SONATI after working for Greenpeace in Europe. I love the idea to work in a local NGO and to be in direct contact with the people with. I am in charge of the hostel in Esteli, which is the main economic mean to finance SONATI´s environmental programs in and around Esteli; I am proud that thank to my work SONATI can carry out all these free environmental education programs. I studied International Relations for my BA and Environmental Communications for my MA, in Italy. I also studied MA program about Globalization and Development in Spain. In my free time I like to practice Yoga and be with friends at nature.
Nathael Romero: Guide. I arrived to SONATI to work as a volunteer with recycling and environmental programs and eventually became part of SONATI staff. I work as a trekking guide, but also as a guide in different environmental programs. In my free time I like to play guitar and listen to music.
Ninfa Cerrato: Guide. I arrived to SONATI as a volunteer, working with the environmental programs and eventually became part of SONATI staff. I work as an environmental education guide and enjoy the contact with children. I studied Sustainable Tourism, in my free time I like to watch birds and be at the nature with my friends.
Soyla Arauz: Limpieza del hostal.
Hostel cleaning. I am a friendly and responsible person and like to do my work at the best manner. I love the environmental programs that SONATI carries out with children, though I am not directly involved in these activities. I have an amazing little child and wonderful husband.
Volunteers of SONATI Estelí
Mario Ruiz, Estelí, Nicaragua:
I am involved in different activities of SONATI: recycling projects, guiding tourists and at the hostel. I like the idea to educate our youth to love and respect nature, as well as showing our beautiful country for tourists. I studied Agronomy and beside SONATI I work as an English teacher for high school children and university students. In my free time I like to practice sports and learn other languages.
Nils Fitzen, Germany:
I work in SONATI in recycling project and environmental education programs. After finishing my high school in Germany I decided to come and volunteer 1 year in Nicaragua through the German organization "Welthaus Bielefeld". I was working with children also in Germany, especially at the AFS organization that realize students interchanges.
Board of directors
SONATI board of directors is composed of professional people at different fields relevant to SONATI work: environmental education, tourism, finances and law. All board of directors' members are dedicated to help improve the environment in Nicaragua through widespread free environmental education programs and realize their work at the board of directors as volunteers.
Karin Mayorga: President; Environmental Education coordinator in Leon. I feel fortunate to be responsible over such an active, dynamic and idealist organization like SONATI, accompanied by wonderful dedicated staff. My firm commitment to promote free & sustainable environmental education was fulfilled when I found a place where I can use my knowledge about tourism together with active help to the environment and the youth in my country, and this is exactly what we do in SONATI. I studied Tourism; in my free time I enjoy to be at the outdoors with friends and listen to music.
Arnon Dattner (Nony): Founder and director of SONATI; Vice-president. As a child and teenager I was a student and afterwards a guide in the Israeli environmental-education system: The society for the protection of nature in Israel; where I experienced the power of environmental-education in increasing the love toward nature among children and forming them into environmental leaders in their communities.
My experience at different environmental organization, at different countries, led me to the conclusion that economic self-sustainability is the key to create widespread system of free environmental education, and hence decided to fund SONATI at its actual sustainable structure. I studied Geography and Biology for my B.A. and Zoology for my M.Sc. In my free time i enjoy to be at the outdoors, bird-watching and nature photographing.
Antonio Pichardo: Secretary. I first became aware of SONAT at 2010, when they realized a recycling project at my neighborhood at the city of Leon. I like very much SONATI working method that involves the local public in environmental initiatives to improve its surroundings. Since that time I help SONATI as a volunteer at its different activities, both recycling projects and legal issues, since I studied law and work as a lawyer.
Marcio Toruño: Treasurer. I love nature since i remember myself and I am very happy that I can SONATI in its environmental mission with my professional knowledge of accounting and finances. I am an accountant and Prof. at the Leon´s University at the faculty for finances, where I combine environmental topics and examples in my classes. I also teach online courses (Finances and Excel) and I am a partner in RVTCONSULTORES Y CIA LTDA. In my free time I like to play basketball and surf the web.
Carlos Sequeira: Prosecutor. I was involved with SONATI since its beginning in Leon at 2009 until 2012, first as the hostel administrator and afterwards as the tours coordinator. Now I work in a telecommunications company, but am happy to continue help SONATI in whatever I can, and to make sure that all decisions and activities will continue to be realized at the right manner. I studied Agro Industry and Business Administration.
Silvana Rivera: Board member. I feel very happy and proud to help and be part of SONATI, an organization that one get easily infected with its environmental commitment and passion. SONATI´s work combines components in which I gained ample experience: Tourism and Social & Environmental development in Nicaragua. I studied Sustainable Tourism and was involved in conservation projects since 2002; I am also a member of the Mesoamerican Alliance for Ecotourism and co-owner of a Nicaraguan tour operator that works all over Nicaragua.
Cristhiam Osmar Berríos Montes: Board member; Environmental Education guide in Leon. Since I was a child I always felt attracted to nature. I was involved at different environmental organizations where I had the opportunity to have better understanding of the environmental problems and challenges in Nicaragua. I am involved in SONATI since its beginning at 2009, where I work daily with children at different environmental programs. I know that Nicaragua´s environmental future depends on the education of the next generations, and hence feel committed to expand and improve these programs as much as possible.
SONATI was established in August, 2009 in Leon, Nicaragua through the initiative of Arnon Dattner (Nony) who used personal funds to achieve environmental preservation and stewardship. Creating a self-sustaining private business with a non-profit ethics model using micro businesses (hostel and eco-friendly tours), SONATI generated funds to support local guides and educators, and implemented free environmental education programs for the community. Since August 2012, SONATI is a legal Nicaraguan non-profit organization.