Located in the Costa Rican rainforest, deep in Tortuguero National Park, you will join an international conservation team. By participating in our conservation internship, you will be able to give back to the fragile eco-system while at the same time, adding valuable, practical work experience to your CV and getting your career on the right track.
The internship will give you valuable insight into understanding this delicate and important eco-system. From population studies on endangered species such as the Jaguars and sea turtles (dependent on nesting seasons), to research skills such as camera trapping and data processing.
There will be a strong focus on developing professional skills and being able to apply them with a holistic approach to conservation. We aim to give you the skills to be able to monitor a wide range of eco-systems in a very diverse location. On top of that, you will be given specific leadership responsibilities, a weekly evaluation from your mentor who will be monitoring your progress as well as a professional reference on completion of the programme.
After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for GVI or selected partner organisations in Costa Rica, or in other countries around the world where GVI operate. Over 50% of GVI staff are recruited from our alumni database. Qualification for positions is at the sole discretion of Global Vision International.
Getting the chance to go on this unique adventure in a Costa Rican National Park; enjoying life at the research station; learning about the wildlife and their habitat; seeing unique wildlife in marine and coastal rainforest environments, including sea turtles, monkeys, neo-tropical birds and amphibians; exploring the area by boat and canoe, including remote Caribbean beaches, gaining a wide variety of skills, including learning survey techniques and gaining real field experience, joining the research team to undertake turtle nesting surveys and monitor nesting sites during turtle season; participating on jaguar surveys; setting up and checking camera traps and tracking in the rainforest.
"GVI afforded me the opportunity of gaining valuable practical experience relevant to the environmental management and impact assessment fields. Further to this it also provides the individual with a unique experience in a visually stunning and stimulating environment. I would recommend this to any individuals wishing to further themselves with regard to environmental science and would be ideally suited for recent graduates looking to develop their practical ability after the theory of University."
What's Not Included
Life on the Internship
When we say remote – we mean that there is no road access to the GVI base. In today’s increasingly connected world you will be going, as they say, “off the grid”. You will be based in the heart of nature, surrounded by the white beaches of the Caribbean and the amazing natural beauty of Tortuguero’s rainforest. All transport to and from the base is via canoe or boat, through the luscious green canals.
When you are not out and about conducting various surveys, setting up camera traps or counting turtle eggs, you can enjoy your time off back at base, getting to know fellow team members or exploring the nearby beaches and surrounds (remember to pack that camera!). Camp duties are shared rotationally amongst the entire team.
As part of the internship programme, there will be a lot of focus on developing leadership and teamwork abilities with the GVI Leadership course. After returning to base from your daily field work, you will undergo extra training with your mentor during the evenings or afternoons. This may involve watching presentations on certain theory topics which you will then need to base an assignment upon as well as weekly written assessments and oral and field discussions with your mentor. The Leadership course enables you to get more involved by equipping you with the skills to lead teams and supporting logistics. At the end of the internship, there will be a final evaluation which will assess your competencies against the criteria set out.
By the end of the programme, you will have the necessary skills, field based experience and certifications to begin a rewarding career in the conservation field of your choice.
What's Not Included
The project will provide a firm foundation for personal training and development whilst getting you immersed in the ongoing conservation efforts. After you have completed the rigorous training the programme will rotate amongst a series of focus projects:
Monitoring and Conservation of Sea Turtles (running March to October):
Record important conservation data on nesting turtles for a range of marine turtle species including hawksbill, green, and leatherback.
Marine Turtle Predation by Jaguars:
Investigate the impact of Jaguar populations on sea turtle populations.
Jaguar, Mammal and Prey Species Abundance Study:
Set up camera traps and conduct transects that record tracks and signs in the National Park forest.
Resident and Migratory Bird Research:
Help monitor 30 key aquatic bird species in order to collect long-term seasonal trend data on resident and migratory birds on canoe based surveys.
GVI Leadership Course:
The focus of this course is to develop the participant’s teamwork and leadership skills. Interns will be completing weekly written assignments as well as oral and field discussions. The course will involve the participants watching presentations to learn theory or working on their assignments during the evenings or afternoons after having completed their field work. A mentor will be assigned to the intern and there will be weekly one-on-one meetings to provide feedback and weekly assessment on their progress. After successful completion of the internship and the final evaluation, a certificate and professional reference will be given to the qualifying participants.
Due to the fact that we are working in a National Park, we need to have a special scientific permit to conduct research so you will be asked for some papers to be able to process it. It is a fairly simple process.
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 fulfill 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 Tortuguero National Park and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and visitors
How this programme makes a difference
Working with GVI goes beyond spending 4 weeks in paradise. Participants can be ensured that the time and money they invest in our project will go towards protecting this unique eco-systems and wildlife. GVI works closely with the Costa Rican Ministry of The Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET) and partners with the world-renowned organisations such as Sea Turtle conservancy, Jaguar Conservation and Pathera to provide and collaborate on conservation efforts in Tortuguero.
The work carried out by GVI Costa Rica has provided a huge amount of critical data to the Costa Rican government to help them to make important conservation decisions and ensure the survival of the biodiversity of this unique area of the rainforest.
For example, much of our efforts have been used to achieve massive reductions in sea turtle nest poaching.
What's Not Included
Internships with GVI not only allow you to participate on programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after completing their internship, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on programme.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Jalova field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!
Optional Side Trips
Given your isolated location, a lot of your down time will be spent on base, the rainforest is not a place to go wondering! However there are still some possibilities in the immediate area for you to make the most of your time in Costa Rica. You can visit Tortuguero Village, browse its small souvenir shops, visit the delicious bakery and just watch the world go lazily by. For longer term participants on long weekend breaks, you could decide to head off base and further explore the Caribbean region. Hiking, snorkelling, fishing, or canopy and zip-line tours are just some of the activities that are possible in the area. For something a bit more intense, you could raft on the white waters of the famous Pacuare River on class III to IV rapids over the course of 1- or 2-day trips. And if the adventure activities are not for you, then simply relax in a laidback Caribbean village!
Further Travel Opportunities
Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!
Admire the famous and active Volcan Arenal from a distance and relax in the natural hot springs; surf the Salsa Brava – a hotspot of the Caribbean for the advanced surfer; ride horseback on the beach in Puerto Viejo or simply enjoy miles and miles of beautiful beaches kissed by palm trees; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages to learn more about their amazing culture; discover the cloud forest at Monteverde, visit the hummingbird gallery, enjoy the locally made ice cream and other fresh dairy products or walk among the treetops on the hanging bridges; enjoy the organised wildlife tours of Braulio Carrillo National Park; travel across the country to discover the beautiful Pacific Coast with its hidden white sand beaches; visit Volcan Irazu and discover coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.
Bird Poject Leader
Meet Thijs, our resident bird expert and project leader. Thijs was first attracted to GVI by the perfect mix of education, wildlife, science and communal living that we offer. He holds a Master in Biology (with a focus on freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem stability) and this knowledge comes in handy while in the field.
Thijs has explored deserts and swamp areas in southern Africa during a group journey, he has completed a Leadership and BST internships at GVI Jalova, and has volunteered for a scientific laboratory, governmental organisation and nature organisation. What is the best part about working for GVI? "Being in close contact with wildlife, the possibility to continuously learn and working in a close team towards valuable educational and sustainability goals."
Jaguar Project Leader
Meet Danny, our nature loving jaguar project leader! Danny has some extensive volunteer and travel experience, including volunteering at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa, and travelling to see and experience animals in the wild (South Africa, Kenya, Rawanda, Tansania and Borneo) where him ad his team usually camped in tents with basic equipment. He also completed a wildlife internship at Jalova Tortuguero with GVI and he was especially interested in gaining more hands-on experience through this experience.
He fondly recalls his favourite travel memory: "When volunteering in South Africa, after the day’s work, we were on our way back to our house when the big bull elephant stopped us just before our gate. We decided to watch him for a while as he proceeded to pull down one of the trunks of our fig tree treehouse. Once he’d pulled it down he called the rest of the herd up from the valley below. They stayed around the tree for the rest of the night and we had to drive around the back of our volunteer area and climb over the fence."
Senior Country Expert
Meet Cormac, our lovely Country Expert for Thailand and Costa Rica. This Scotsman is a rather eccentric guy and his fantastic sense of humour is one of his most appreciated characteristics. He achieved a Master's degree in History and Politics, and quite evidently can keep his own in any conversation on any topic.
His love for travelling started in his younger years already and since then he has explored New Zealand, Canada, the states, and South Africa! What is his one travel must-have? "A towel of course (for further information please read a Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy)."
Mac particularly enjoys getting the chance to have a bit of banter on the phone with people who are really passionate about volunteering. He thinks of himself as Carl Frederickson from the movie Up. "Just a bloke who enjoys sitting in a comfy chair; I think we can all relate to that." Mac, we absolutely agree!
Incidentals Project Leader
Meet Megan, our Incidentals Project Leader in Jalova. She loves anoles, frogs, and all the other animals she can find in the jungle, which seems to be a good fit with what she is doing here with us at GVI. Megan has previous experience working on a dairy farm and with local conservation groups in New Zealand.
While working with GVI she gets plenty of chance to see and identify interesting animals. Costa Rica is quite a change from what she is used to but she loves the chance to use her training in zoology and ecology with a very different ecosystem than any she would find in New Zealand, her home country.
Meet Alejandra our Base Manager! Originally hailing from Mexico, with a Bachelors in Biology from the University of Guadalajara. Alejandra has travelled and lived in many different countries such as the USA and Holland throughout her conservation career.
Besides working with turtles in conservation and rehab, she also has experience in marine mammal rehabilitation, research and training from different facilities. Her favourite experience so far has been a turtle night patrol were she encountered three leatherbacks and one hawksbill turtle nesting! Ale loves outdoor activities and to learn about different cultures.
Director of Programs
Meet Danny, our Director of Programs. Although he’s based in Playa del Carmen, Danny oversees the development and running of all of our field operations. He started out with GVI as our Country Director in Mexico and quickly became an invaluable part of the team.
Although being Director of Programs is a pretty demanding job, Danny manages to find time to do the other things he loves in-between. He’s an avid photographer and is always training for a triathlon or ironman.
What’s Danny’s favourite aspect of his job? “Starting new projects – we get lots of request for assistance and it’s difficult to decide when funds are limited. The evaluation process and those initial talks with local partners are very interesting. Seeing projects grow from an idea to full programs is very exciting. I also love the relationships you create with local organisations, they become friends and we jointly work to achieve the project aims.”
Business & Systems Analyst
Meet Laura. In addition to once being a promising figure skater, Laura is also a trained animal handler, and used to volunteer at a zoo in NYC. She likens herself to Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls, “She’s the brains of the operation”. We can’t argue there, HQ would fall apart without her!
She joined the Costa Rica Wildlife Expedition as a volunteer and immediately knew there was no going back to working for The Man. She became an ambassador and started planning her next trip when we sent her the Regional Coordinator vacancy. 5 weeks later she was in Cape Town!
Laura’s one travel must-have she recommends to volunteers? Coconut Desert Essence shampoo… “It smells amazing and it’s environmentally friendly. No-one should have to sacrifice their hair while travelling, even in remote environments.”
Cynthia Arochi Zendejas
Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!
Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.
The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.
What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”