After completing my undergraduate degree, I decided to spend two months as an environmental volunteer with GVI. Located in the Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, the research base is very isolated and only accessible by motorboat, this in itself makes for a very unique experience! All the volunteers and staff were wonderful and it was great to make new friends and work with people from different backgrounds and nationalities. It does not matter too much whether you have an environmental background as volunteers receive training in the first week. The staff were all extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The training week was well structured and by the end of it we all understood the work that is carried out GVI in Tortuguero and felt confident enough to go out into the field and be able to identify a wide range of wildlife for survey data. I felt that we all slipped very easily into the daily life at Jalova, carrying out Biological Assessment Surveys, Canal Bird Surveys, Track Surveys and setting up and monitoring cameras traps to name a few. GVI, unlike some other organisations, make all the data collected in the field publically available and the survey work does have a scientific purpose; the data that volunteers collect has contributed to a recent paper published in an international conservation journal: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid... Volunteers have the opportunity to work towards BTEC awards (at an additional cost) in biological surveying and leadership skills. In today's competitive job market, this is certainly an added bonus to be able to add these skills to your CV. This, with the gained knowledge of conservation management and first hand experience from the field, will help give me an advantage and an edge professionally. Alongside making some friends whom I hope to be in contact with for years to come, the abundance and diversity of wildlife in the area is what I most enjoyed about my work with GVI. Central American Spider Monkeys and Eyelash Palm Pit Vipers, became almost as common as seeing a Pigeon back home, yet for me, the novelty never ceased to get old! Some other highlights included seeing a Northern Tamandua, Sloths, Paca, Toucans and one of the first Leatherback turtles of the 2012 season. The cost of the trip isn't cheap, but I do feel that you get good value for money; all food and accommodation is included in the price and I was very impressed with both their in-country and home support. GVI claim that 70% is directly re-invested into their projects and I certainly have no reason to believe otherwise. I was a little nervous before going as it was the first time that I had done this sort of thing independently, but I had no need to worry. Most of the volunteers were also travelling solo and all the staff were extremely friendly. During the two months there was not a single moment when I regretted going away with GVI, and I certainly wouldn't hesitate to recommend them!