Volunteer Research Assistantships


About the Project:

Volunteer field assistants are needed for an on-going wild feline monitoring and conservation project at the Aula Global Biological Reserve, a remote private reserve located in the mountainous regions near Monteverde, Costa Rica. The Global Classroom has been conducting scientific studies focusing on documenting the movement and population density of cats (jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi) within the reserve.  Among other tasks, volunteers will be using camera traps, track pads, animal tracking techniques, and photography to gather information on local and transient cats within the reserve.  Data collected will be entered into an ongoing database for the reserve’s conservation efforts.

Secondary work projects within our private biological reserve may include bird, mammal and reptile census and behavioral observations, trail maintenance, orchid identification and canopy exploration requiring technical climbing equipment. We have several rare species of birds that nest on our property during the spring, including the Three-wattled Bellbird, Resplendent Quetzal, and the Bare-necked Umbrellabird. During our spring time sessions we will be focusing on documenting the breeding and nesting habits of the Bare-necked Umbrella bird using direct observation, photo / filming of this little known species.  If volunteers are interested, upon discussion with the Aula Global Staff, they may conduct custom-built projects.

The Aula Global volunteer and internship project connects people with some of the wildest, unspoiled tropical forests left in Costa Rica. Aula Global reserve is not open to the general public so human activity within the reserve is at a minimum, allowing volunteers and interns the unique opportunity to study unencumbered by tourist activity and restrictions placed upon many researchers studying in public reserves.

No previous rain forest experience is necessary, but field assistants must be motivated, self directed and prepared for off trail hiking in rugged, wet conditions.  Trails at the reserve can be steep, muddy, and slippery.  Be prepared to hike up to 3 miles daily with a light day pack.  There are no roads to our research station so upon arrival, participants must be able to carry all their personal gear, and possibly a small amount of group gear (i.e. food, equipment) approximately one mile to the station.

 

Dates:

Research sessions run in one-week sessions starting on Sunday and ending on Saturday. Volunteers are welcome to participate in multiple sessions if they wish to gain a variety of skills and experiences.

FALL 2016 Volunteer Sessions:
Session 1: October 23rd – 29th – FOR WOMEN **
Session 2: October 30th – November 5th
Session 3: November 6th – 12th

** This session is specifically for women, led by women, to develop and share important field research skills and connect with other like-minded individuals.  All of our other sessions are open to everyone.

SPRING 2017 Volunteer Sessions:
TBA

 

Photos:

Visit our gallery to view photos of our volunteer and internship program at Aula Global!

 

About the Global Classroom and the Aula Global Biological Reserve:

In 1992, the non-profit environmental organization Global Classroom began a fundraising campaign to purchase and protect over 700 acres of rain forest along the continental divide of Costa Rica. After years of dedicated work from volunteers across the globe, the Aula Global biological reserve and corridor was created in 2001. It spans five ecological zones, encompassing virgin rainforest, clear running streams and rugged mountainous terrain.  A walk up through though the reserve corridor will take you through small patches of regenerating pastures into wild, virgin acres of unexplored pre-montane wet forests that slowly transition into the infamous cloud forests that make Costa Rica so biologically unique and diverse, making it an excellent location for a wide range of studies.

Our eco-friendly research station, dormitory and composting toilet/gray water system are conveniently located within the reserve, allowing easy access to the forest at all hours of the day and night. Night walks reveal a new collection of species not observed in the daylight hours, opening up entirely new avenues for research.  Many new and unidentified species have been documented within our boundaries, and many more await discovery.  Over 200 species of bird have been identified from the front porch alone!

Mammals seen at the reserve include howler and white- faced monkeys, tayra, peccary and armadillo to name a few. The reserve boasts 5 species of cat consisting of jaguar, puma, marguay, ocelot and jaguarundi. It is possible the illusive oncillo is also present though we have yet to confirm this. An ongoing study is underway using camera traps as well as terrestrial tracking and audio recordings. In 2009 and 2010, a bare necked umbrella bird female was witnessed constructing a nest within the reserve. Until this date, the nesting habits, egg color and number and other nesting details were unknown and un-described in avian literature.

 

FAQ:

Do I need shots to enter Costa Rica?
No.  It’s always advised when traveling internationally to have tetanus and hepatitis shots but it is not critical for Costa Rica.  We have guided hundreds of students and adults to Costa Rica for over 20 years with not one case of dysentery, malaria, or other serious travel illnesses.

What if there is a medical emergency?
Raven Adventures staff is trained and certified in advanced wilderness medicine and rescue.  Costa Rica also has a well developed Red Cross system, public and private clinics, and hospitals located through out the country.  It’s always advised when traveling internationally to purchase trip cancellation and emergency medical and evacuation insurance.  Most policies can be purchased for under $100 USD.

Will I be able to contact family and friends at home while I am traveling?
You will have access to internet cafes and pay phones in Monteverde both of which are very reasonably priced.  Once at the reserve you will not have internet or phone access.

What is included in the project cost?
The project cost is $450 per week and includes transportation from Monteverde (Santa Elena) to the Aula Global reserve, all food and lodging within the reserve, all technical equipment, canopy climbing safety training (if applicable), animal tracking and other related workshops.

What is NOT included in the project cost?
The project cost does not include flights to/from San Jose, bus tickets to/from Monteverde (Santa Elena), lodging outside of the reserve, travel insurance, or spending money for snacks, souvenirs, etc.

What do I need to bring?
Please click here to view a copy of our Costa Rica packing list.

How do I get from the San Jose international airport to Monteverde (Santa Elena)?
Although commonly referred to as “the San Jose Airport”, the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) is actually located in a suburb of San Jose called Alajuela.  Alajuela is approximately 10 miles from the San Jose city center, or around a 30-minute-plus drive.  There are ONLY two daily buses that depart from San Jose to Monteverde/Santa Elena.  The first departs at 6:30am and the other at 2:30pm.  If you are lucky enough to arrive in the airport before 12:30 PM (at the latest), you can take a cab from the airport directly to the Monteverde/Santa Elena bus station in San Jose to make the 2:30pm bus.  This will allow you to avoid an overnight in the city.  If your flight arrives after 12:30pm you will not likely make the bus and will need to stay at a hostel/hotel of your choice in the city. 

How will I get from Monteverde (Santa Elena) to the reserve?
On the first day of your volunteer session, we will have a set time and place where we will meet you and then transport you out to the reserve. 

 

Cost:

Cost is $450 per week and includes transportation from Monteverde to Aula Global reserve, all food and lodging within the reserve, all technical equipment, animal tracking and other related workshops.  A $200 per session deposit is required to save your space.

As an additional cost there is a conservation fee of $25/week. We ask you to bring this amount with you in US dollars and we will collect it when entering the reserve.  You can read more about the conservation fee here.

 

How to Apply:

No previous rain forest experience is necessary, but field assistants must be motivated, self directed and prepared for off trail hiking in rugged, wet conditions.  Trails at the reserve can be steep, muddy, and slippery.  Be prepared to hike up to 3 miles daily with a light day pack. There are no roads to our research station so upon arrival, participants must be able to carry all their personal gear, and possibly a small amount of group gear (i.e. food, equipment) approximately one mile to the station.

To apply please contact Kathy Leone at kathy@ravenadventures.com to ensure there is availability on the session dates you are interested in.  Once you have confirmed the dates you wish to join us, please fill out the the Registration and Waiver Form + Health Form and submit your $200 per session deposit, which will save your space.  Your space will be fully secured upon receipt of your final payment. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Facilities for Self-Directed Research: Year Round

Many research projects are possible at Aula Global, and we are open to your suggestions. Past projects by motivated students include amphibian identification, distribution, fungal infection and mortality rates, and the effects of climate change upon reserve amphibians. Other topics include bird migration patterns, climate change and its impacts on plant distribution throughout the reserve elevations, orchid identification, and hummingbird pollination impacts on flowering trees and flowers. The profusion of butterflies, moths and other insects found throughout the reserve offer endless opportunity for unique research topics.

Aula Global’s remote location is the perfect location for self directed students to create and obtain results in a pristine and wild tropical forest setting. Participants must be comfortable with spending many days and nights alone or with few students in a rustic setting. The reserve infrastructure is rustic but fully functional with clean running water, propane cook stove, gray water and composting toilet and large research station with excellent views of river valleys and forested ridges.  The possibilities are numerous for those wishing to apply their skills and knowledge in a tropical forest. Let us know how we can assist you.