Born and raised in the Galápagos, Roberta Schiess Bahamonde’s grandparents were among the first permanent inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island, arriving from Switzerland in the 1940s. Her mother is also a naturalist guide in the Galápagos, so this is a profession she has been exposed to her whole life, and she often accompanied her mom as she guided visitors.
She spent an idyllic childhood running wild on her family’s cattle ranch in the highlands, fully immersed in her father's passion for agriculture. This led her to volunteer for the Israeli government at a big farm on a kibbutz to prove to herself this was indeed the direction she wanted to take in life. She loved it. Over her lifetime, Roberta has witnessed two major problems in the Galápagos: insufficient food production and the challenge of conserving the ecosystem in the face of pests and plagues present in the food that arrives from outside the archipelago. Because of this, she decided to work towards finding a sustainable way of farming in the Galápagos. During her career, she has had the opportunity to work at a vegan food processing company in Los Angeles, California, where she learned how important it is for farmers to find a way to add value to whatever they grow. In 2016, she earned a bachelor’s in agronomic engineering from EARTH University in Costa Rica, and in 2017 she applied to become a Naturalist Guide for Galápagos National Park. Her dream is that Galápagos will someday become fully self-sufficient and that agriculture will produce sustainable income for its people.