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Testimonial from

In 2014 I went to Costa Rica. This trip was a new beginning for me and I discovered my passion for conservation. Jalova-the place I was going to live for the next month. Running water and one hour of electricity a day was the only resources we had. However that allowed me to deepen relationships with people from all over the world and make some life-long friends. My first week there was mostly training for species identification, first aid/CPR, and getting to know people. Every day you would work on one or two different projects. There were the bird surveys which could be early morning (the sun was up around 4 AM) or in the afternoons after lunch. You would have a crew of seven in a canoe and explore the areas around camp. Another project was jaguar surveys which involved setting up scent stations and trail cameras. Finally the other main project was sea turtles. You would go out at night to the beach and walk around in the dark looking for nesting turtles. If we found one we would mark the nest, take measurements of the turtle, and count the eggs. There were other projects including incidentals surveys which involved us hiking through the rain forest and looking for whatever we could find. We saw many snakes, lizards, birds, and monkeys! Also the mornings involved two people going out and checking mark turtle nests to make sure they are okay and see if any hatched. Once a week a group would go out and hike a jag walk-which was walking along the beach for 15 miles looking for signs of jaguars. We found many footprints and often would smell or see a dead turtle which the jaguars killed. We would use that as ways to track and document the jaguars. Once a week, a volunteer and leader had to work in the kitchen all day making three meals. Our diet was rice, beans, some bread, pasta, and veggies. My favorite thing to eat was plantains which we would eat them sweet or fry them. For a treat we would have team meetings after lunch every day and have fruit including mangos, guanabanas, bananas, and pineapple. I know I cannot explain all that I did but it was a fantastic experience and I loved every moment of it. We worked every day, but also had some free time. Jaguar walks included walking to Tortuguero and spend some time in town using internet and buying snacks. During free time, I usually would set up a hammock under the shade on the beach and listen to music, waves, and wind. It was heaven. Sometimes I would read and take a nap. Otherwise people would sit in the kitchen and play cards or just have good conversations. I made some really great friends from all over the world. On another note, the work people at Jalova were doing was conservation and research that is benefiting a lot of species. Sometimes walking along the beach we would see boats out on the water poaching these beautiful creatures. And we could not do anything about it. It was heartbreaking. However by marking nests and monitoring them we were doing something about it and just the idea that we were increasing chances for these endangered species was worth it. I know these creatures’ people always hear about and may actually study, but until you see it in person, this living breathing thing-is so worth it. Conservation is so important and I cannot express that enough.