Program Details
 

Costa Rica Conservation Experience

Volunteer on long-term conservation initiatives in Costa Rica


Program Information

Live on a remote research station while partaking in our conservation focused service learning course. Learn about rainforest ecosystems while assisting with turtle, jaguar, bird, and forest conservation projects. Complete educational assignments which complement the on the ground experience.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Overview

Immerse yourself in a Costa Rican conservation project and gain real world experience. This inter-disciplinary course, accredited by universities and colleges around the world, introduces students to international service-learning and sustainable development, both in content and practice, in Jalova, Costa Rica.

Project Aims and Objectives

GVI has been operating in Costa Rica for almost 10 years. As well as our conservation work, GVI also focuses on community development work in Quepos.

Our projects are well established and respected amongst the communities. GVI’s long-term involvement, capacity building and commitment to our projects, ensure that the service elements of your students’ trips are contributing to long-term sustainable projects helping to achieve our partners’ objectives. These local partnerships along with stakeholder discussions drive the service elements of our trips to ensure they are fully focussed on the most prevalent issues and produce the results required locally.

As a group, you have the opportunity of contributing to on-going conservation projects. The exact work will greatly depend on the needs of our partners at the time. This is a great opportunity for students to work as a team in achieving an overall goal that will have long-lasting effects for the environment, community members and local partners.

Highlights

Contribute to our long-term conservation and community projects. Experience life in an authentic Costa Rican community living, eating and working with the local research teams all while enjoying life in the Costa Rican jungle.

Location

GVI’s base in Jalova is a research station in the Tortuguero National Park. The park is border by the Caribbean sea where you will find a beach that’s home to one of the largest nesting colonies of Green Turtles in the world. The other three sides of the park are home to protected rainforest. All transportation into the park is via canoe or motor boat along the canal and river systems. Students will spend their time surrounded by amazing scenery and wildlife in the canals, tropical rainforest, and Caribbean beaches.

Jalova's short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Jalova:


1. Increase scientific knowledge of Tortuguero National Park

2. Increase awareness of GVI Jalova projects and the ecological value of the Tortuguero National Park.

3. Build local capacity to support long-term conservation of biodiversity and sustainable community development in Costa Rica

4. Continue to minimize our environmental impact on TNP and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and visitors

Program Details

Program Type: Schools , University

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Health & Safety

At GVI we take health and safety very seriously. We run comprehensive risk assessments for each of our activities, in each of our locations, and are prepared for any eventuality, no matter how unlikely.

We have over 150 expertly trained staff members who live alongside the local communities in our locations year-round. This means that we know the areas intimately, and have dedicated, experienced professionals available to you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We keep in regular contact with relevant embassies and foreign offices, ensuring that we’re able to give you the most up-to-date information and travel advice regarding our locations.

Our Risk Assessments and Emergency Action Plans follow a comprehensive quarterly review process and can be provided to you upon request.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


Teacher Info

Additional Teacher Info

GVI runs curriculum, CAS and experience focussed service learning opportunities around the world on multi-award winning trips. With over 25,000 travellers since inception, GVI’s know how to ensure safe, life-changing challenges that make a real difference, fostering global citizenship and intercultural understanding. Staffed and resourced by GVI all year round, our projects offer unique opportunities to engage in long-term, high impact work, whilst experiencing deep cultural immersion and some adventure.

A teacher travels free with groups of ten or more students!

GVI provides 24/7 support from our experienced staff who are based full-time on the ground, as well as support from HQ. An experienced group leader will accompany the group, taking overall responsibility for the safety of the group.

Please note prices are subject to seasonal fluctuation and will vary depending upon the needs of the group.

**Optional extras include travel insurance and flight services




Example Itinerary:

This course can vary in duration, depending on your requirements for project time as well as cultural or adventure based time.

Pre-Departure

Two weeks prior to departure, students will be assigned readings and assignments in order to make sure that they have a basic cultural understanding of Jalova and it’s local conservation based issues, a foundational understanding of international service learning and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the start of a dialogue surrounding global engagement. Materials will be chosen based on collaboration with the group’s educational leader to ensure the papers and research fits into the groups in-class curriculum.

In-Country:

Day 1- Arrival at San Jose Airport and Transfer to Base

On arrival, the group will be met at San Jose’s International Airport by a GVI representative or staff member. Participants will be transferred to their hostel accommodation and given time to settle in and rest. There will be an initial welcome presentation and introduction to the GVI staff, history and background of the projects, as well as a health and safety breakdown.

Day 2- Arrival in Tortuguero

Accompanied by a GVI staff member or representative, the group will journey by bus 3.5 hours and then 45 minutes by boat to base. The group will meet for an afternoon orientation and welcome session where they will discuss the week’s logistics, duties and responsibilities, and receive an introduction from the local partners. Materials and tools will also be prepped to maximize productivity for the following days.

In the evening a reflection period will take place in which participants will debrief and review their initial reactions and observations surrounding the experience and location.

Days 3-6- Daily Structure: Service, Education, and Reflection

The exact project will be based on the requirements of our local partners at the time. The group can expect to be involved in a variety of environmental awareness activities, discussions and lectures. This may include bird walks, biodiversity surveys, species identification and rainforest ecology.

All service elements will be connected to a greater understanding of the environmental context in which the students are working. Assignments, in the form of lectures, readings, written response papers, journal entries, group presentations, and other creative projects will be conducted daily to enhance the learning taking place during the daily service involvement. Daily reflection sessions will act as the bridge that connects and helps to synthesize the many aspects of the experience.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways in which participants are working towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and students will critically examine their part in this process, analyzing their contributions, challenges, and observations.

Day 7- A Fond Farewell

GVI field staff will transfer the team back to the airport and bid them a fond farewell! GVI will endeavor to keep the group informed of any updates there might be in the field and with particular reference to the projects students contributed to during their time in Costa Rica.

Post-Return

Students will continue to engage with active reflection and educational expansion two weeks after leaving Costa Rica, with emphasis placed on incorporating the international experience and insights gained into the students’ home context. Assignments will center around generating ideas to continue global engagement, connecting the experience to personal and career goals, and reflecting on the insights gained that could not be learnt in a classroom.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 24/7 back up and support
  • A dedicated trip co-ordinator
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Access to local medical facilities
  • Accommodation
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Comprehensive health and safety procedures (Emergency Action Plans and Risk Assessments)
  • First aid equipment
  • Flight booking service on request
  • Food and drinking water
  • Group leader
  • Highly experienced and well qualified GVI field staff
  • In-country support
  • In-country transport costs
  • Insurance on request
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Pre-departure information
  • Risk assessments
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Up-to-date safety and country information
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Additional spending money
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check
  • Vaccinations
  • Visa costs (where necessary)
  • Visas

Why Choose GVI?

There are many reasons why you should consider GVI for your group trip. Allow us to take you through some of the important points:

  • GVI has over 15 years of experience – Since we began in 1997, we have sent over 20,000 young people on trips all over the world. Most describe their experience with us as life-changing with a 95% approval rate from our customers



  • We are a ground operator – We run and staff our projects 24/7, all year round which means we understand and know the area you will be visiting enabling us to deliver a high quality level of support, safety and training at very competitive prices



  • Our variety of programs is unique and unrivalled – We offer language courses, community and conservation projects, leadership programs, cultural immersion, adventure activities and mountain trekking.



  • Peace of mind – You know that our projects make a real and positive impact on the local communities you visit. Since we started we have developed over 150 projects around the world.



  • Project ownership – We run our projects in partnership with local communities, according to the needs on the ground, so you know they are genuinely worthwhile



  • We are different from most other school providers – We already have projects and programs in place. We have been working in these countries for over 15 years and are working hand in hand with the host communities to ensure their needs are being met.



  • Teachers/Educators travel free



  • Safety is our priority – We have comprehensive safety and back up procedures in place.



  • Flexibility – Our trips are available all year round so you tell us when you want to travel.



  • The GVI Charitable Trust – Enables your school to stay involved with your program after you return home.



  • Students will automatically become GVI members, enabling them to benefit from discounts on any future GVI trips.



  • There are opportunities for students to be GVI Ambassadors – excellent for university and college applications.

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

ENQUIRY FORM

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Enquiry Details

   
Speak to us about Scholarships, available if you book before the end of November.