Semilla Nueva - New Seed


The Semilla Nueva Team

The Team


Curt Bowen

Executive Director, Co-founder

Curt grew up on a small organic farm in Idaho, recieved his degree in Philosophy, and has led environmental and rural development for over nine years. He is the recipient of the Ignite Good Millennial Impact Challenge, Ashoka Emerging Innovators award, and most recently the Unilever-Cambridge-Ashoka Sustainable Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Curt has worked full-time in Guatemala for nearly five years, founding SN in 2010.

Follow Curt on Twitter @CurtPBowen.

Trinidad Recinos

Assistant Country Director, Co-founder

Trinidad was raised in an agricultural community and has been involved in sustainable development and civil resistance from young age. He worked as a non-profit’s leading technician for rural development six years and was head of Anacafe’s experimental demonstration farm, Buena Vista, for 12 years. Trinidad has always had a strong passion for helping rural communities, and serves as the heart and soul of SN through his ability to put into practice the Farmer-to-Farmer methodology. Trini helped found SN in 2010 and has served as a key leader ever since.


Jake Weisenthal

Country Director

Jake joined Semilla Nueva in February of 2015 after working for two years in monitoring and evaluation for a coffee organization in the Guatemalan highlands. He first came to Guatemala as a post-graduate fellow with Princeton in Latin America, and soon discovered a passion for sustainable rural development. He was drawn to Semilla Nueva by their farmer-to-farmer extension model and deep commitment to working in unison with local communities. He holds degrees in Political Science and Spanish from Haverford College. When he’s not in the office Jake enjoys playing tennis or hanging out with his friends back at Lake Atitlan.


Noe Estrada

Experimental Farm Coordinator

Noe is a native to La Maquina, Guatemala, at the center of SN’s communities. He was one of the first farmers in Southern Guatemala to begin using no-till farming, and has worked as a promotor of new seed varieties for numerous companies in the region. Noe has decades of experience managing field trials and promoting new techniques in the region. Noe joined the team in 2013 and has managed our experimental farm with the utmost ethic and passion.


Jennifer Brito

Food Security and Nutrition Program Coordinator

Jennifer is from Retalhuleu, Guatemala, a city in the coast near many of SN’s communities. She brings an educational background in communications, as well as previous work experience as a community health worker and nutrition educator with various nonprofits. Jennifer began working with SN in 2013, and has quickly gained the trust and respect of the women of the communities.


Juan Manuel de Leon Diaz

Field Technician

Juan Manuel is the epitome of a farmer leader. Born and raised in the community of La Montana, Juan was one of the first farmers to participate in Semilla Nueva’s programs four year ago. After seeing changes in his soils, he became an enthusiastic supporter and advocate for sustainable technologies, regularly inviting other community members to participate in Semilla Nueva meetings and experiments. Juan Manuel joined the Semilla Nueva staff in 2014 as a field technician in the communities of Retalhuleu. Juan Manuel helps farmers set up experiments on their plots of land, encouraging them to try new things and leading them every step of the way.


Hugo ChinChilla

Field Technician

Hugo represents Semilla Nueva inside and out. Hailing from the community of Los Encuentros, Guatemala, Hugo began participating in Semilla Nueva’s programs in 2010. As one of Semilla Nueva’s youngest farmers, he proved to be a major proponent of trying new ideas and challenging traditional ones. Hugo joined the Semilla Nueva staff in 2014 as a field technician for the communities in the Suchitepequez region. Hugo helps other farmers discover new technologies, try them on their land, and analyze their results.


Katalina Sanchez

Research Coordinator

Katalina has a degree in Agricultural Engineering from Universidad de Córdoba (Spain) and a double master’s degree in Agroecology from NMBU (Norway) and Isara-Lyon (France). Born in Colombia but grown up in Switzerland, she likes living in multi-cultural environments. Her work within a biofuel project with Jatropha in Mali and her family farming project in Colombia motivated her to work and learn more on tropical agriculture, especially small scale farming systems. Her wish is to help smallholders improve their agroecosystems in order to become more sustainable.


Cirilo Garcia

Field Technician

Cirilo García is a farmer from the community A-13 in La Maquina, Suchitepéquez. He is very active with various agricultural organizations in his community and began working with Semilla Nueva in 2010. His first experiment was with pigeonpea. For the first two years the bean refused to grow on his land, but finally in the third year he had a successful harvest. He is especially passionate about pigeonpea because of its high protein content and its resilience during the dry season. In 2014 Cirilo joined the Semilla Nueva team as a field technician. He is excited to get to know farmers in other communities and share what he has learned with Semilla Nueva.


Juan Francisco Saldana

Field Technician

Juanito has been involved with Semilla Nueva team members before Semilla Nueva even existed as an organization. Juan met Trinidad Recinos in ’87 while Trini was working as an agricultural technician in his community, Conrado de la Cruz. They found each other again in 2010 when Trini returned to Juanito’s community, this time arriving as the cofounder of Semilla Nueva. Since then Juanito has been a major player in Conrado, always inviting fellow farmers to the group. At the end of 2014 Juanito joined the team as a field technician for the Suchitepéquez area. He is especially passionate about technologies that improve soil health and he is excited to help Semilla Nueva reach new communities.


Jose Escobedo

Field Technician

Jose, or “Chepe”, Escobedo comes from the community of San Miguel Las Pilas in the area of Retalhuleu. Chepe has worked with Semilla Nueva since 2012 and has served as an extra hand for the team during the busy harvest seasons. In 2014, he officially joined the team as a field technician. He is especially passionate about Semilla Nueva’s work with pigeonpea, because it is something completely new to the region. He strongly believes in Semilla Nueva’s Farmer to Farmer model and our work with small experimental parcels. He looks forward to deepening his understanding of what he has already learned with Semilla Nueva.


Isabel Aguilar

Administrative Coordinator

Isabel joined Semilla Nueva as Assistant to the Executive Director in March of 2016. Before joining the team, she worked in a private company with a free clinic working to eliminate avoidable blindness in Guatemala. This was there she discovered her passions, strengths, commitment, and values to be part of creative solutions that improve wellbeing in rural zones using technology and suitable resources. She is grateful to work with the Semilla Nueva team and for the chance to take on her new position as Administrative Manager. Semilla Nueva has encouraged her to improve her English level and continue with her studies to grow inside of the organization.


Paola Martinez

Staff Accountant

Paula received her degree as an auditor and public accountant from the Panamerican University of Guatemala. She has had the opportunity to work in the private sector, where she gained skills in business management, accounting, tax advisory, and auditing. She loves the idea of helping others while doing what she loves, and is excited to be part of the Semilla Nueva team!


Karen Lopez

Development & Engagement Coordinator for Plataforma BioFORT

Karen is from Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. She studied Economics at the University of Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City, and in the past worked in finance and a continuing education enterprise. She came to Semilla Nueva because she believes that there are sustainable solutions to tackle a question from her childhood: Why are there poor people in Guatemala and around the world? She is delighted to be a part of a team that is working to find the answer, and doing something about it! Karen also writes on her blog about transcendence, life, development, and agriculture.