Volunteer Research Assistantships


The Project

Global Classroom, the sister organization to Raven Adventures, worked tirelessly along with hundreds of volunteers to preserve a stretch of rainforest in the Monteverde area of Costa Rica now known as Aula Global Biological Reserve. Volunteer field assistants are needed for an ongoing feline monitoring and conservation project documenting the movement and population density of native cats (jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay, and jaguarundi) within the reserve.

Aula Global Biological Reserve

Global Classroom and founder Colin Garland began a fundraising campaign in 1992 to purchase and protect over 700 acres of rainforest along the continental divide of Costa Rica. After years of dedicated work from volunteers across the globe, the Aula Global Biological Reserve 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. This diversity makes the reserve an ideal site for tropical studies; multiple new and unidentified species have been documented within the reserve’s boundaries and many more await discovery. Over 200 species of bird have been documented from the front porch alone!

The Research

Aula Global Biological Reserve is not open to the general public, so human activity is at a minimum. This allows volunteers the unique opportunity to study unencumbered by noise pollution and tourism. The Feline Monitoring Program is an ongoing study using camera traps and track and sign to document the reserve’s cat species. Volunteers should expect to use camera traps, maintain track pads, learn animal tracking techniques, digitize data, and utilize photography to gather information on native cats. Other responsibilities may include trail maintenance and canopy exploration, carried out using technical climbing equipment.

What to Expect

Volunteer should be comfortable in rustic conditions. Aula Global Biological Reserve was created to preserve and protect the environment; all accommodations are as eco-friendly as possible, with a minimal impact on the surrounding forest. Volunteers stay in a dormitory adjacent to the field station, which is equipped with a composting toilet with a gray water system, easily accessible day and night. An outdoor, unheated shower is available. All food and water is clean and completely safe to consume.

This trip can be physically demanding. Trails at the reserve can be steep, muddy, and slippery.  Be prepared to hike up to 3 miles daily with a light pack. Participants will need to hike their personal gear into the reserve as there are no roads leading up to the station. This is about a mile hike. Please pack accordingly!

Interested? Here’s How to Apply

No previous experience is necessary, but field assistants must be motivated, self-directed and prepared to hike rugged, wet conditions.

1) Please contact Sabrina Salome at sabrina@ravenadventures.com with your CV or resume attached. You will then be contacted about the status of your application.

2) Fill out in full, scan and return the following forms: Registration and Waiver Form, and Health Form.

3) Then, submit your deposit to save your space – pay in full according to the payment schedule. Missing payment due dates may result in the loss of your spot and nonrefundable deposit!


$450 per week includes transportation from Monteverde to Aula Global Biological Reserve, all food and lodging within the reserve, all technical equipment, animal tracking and other related workshops. The reserve also collects a conservation fee of $25/week. We ask you to bring this amount with you in US dollars.


Feline Monitoring sessions run in one-week blocks, beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday. Volunteers are welcome to apply for multiple sessions.

Dates are not yet available for the 2018 season! Check back later or email Sabrina at sabrina@ravenadventures.com to be added to our email alert list.

Independent Researchers

Volunteers may conduct custom-built projects. Past independent projects include amphibian identification, distribution, and fungal infection and mortality rates; the effects of climate change on select amphibians; bird migration patterns; plant distribution and density; orchid identification; and pollinators. Those looking to propose an independent project will need to submit a full proposal to Global Classroom for review and should contact Colin Garland at colin@ravenadventures.com for more details.


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 $250 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 can arrange your flight to ensure that you are through security/customs in San Jose by 1 PM, you will have sufficient time to take a taxi directly to the Monteverde/Santa Elena bus station terminal called “Terminal 7 and 10” to make the 2:30 PM bus. This will allow you to avoid an overnight in the city. If you cannot make the 2:30 PM bus, you will need to take the 6:30 AM bus the following morning which will arrive in Monteverde/Santa Elena around 11 AM.

Upon enrollment, you will receive a detailed information packet discussing taxis, pick-up times, buses, etc.

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.

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