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A Peek Into the Life of an Osa Intern

Written by : Emily Deanne

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Walking into Osa Conservation’s DC Office on a sunny day in August I did not realize I was embarking on a new chapter of my life. I was certainly excited to see what the office would look like. I sincerely wondered if the goals of the organization would be reflected in the office’s atmosphere. I was not disappointed as I entered a warm and cozy floor filled with bright colors and images of the rainforest and its breathtaking wildlife. My personal favorite would have to be either the picture of the soaring macaws or the duck calendar. I instantly was soothed, and knew I was in the right place. As an undergraduate at The George Washington University majoring in Environmental Studies, I am extremely passionate about environmental issues and conservation. Osa was the perfect fit for me. Suddenly I was immersed in the world of protecting nature, which is right where I have always aspired to be.

Throughout my time at Osa I was able to actually make a difference in the environmental world by helping to preserve the Osa peninsula. I think my favorite part of my internship at Osa was the outreach work I did. By spreading the message about our stations in Costa Rica I knew I was bringing awareness to our efforts and potentially encouraging another student or researcher to make the trip to the Osa. With each new person who learned our conservation message I felt as if real change was being made to protect the most biologically intense place on the planet. I never imagined that I would get along so well with everyone else in the office. It seems that caring about the environment attracts a certain type of person, one who is open, friendly, caring, and engaged with the world around them. I loved talking to and learning from everyone in our office, the neighboring Amazon Conservation Office, as well as our staff down in Costa Rica.

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My fellow intern, Parita, and I shared a special bond and I am so thankful that my internship not only gave me professional contacts but good friends as well. In this position I gained a better understanding of how an environmental non-profit functions which is extremely valuable experience for me because working for an organization like Osa has always been a potential career path. I am now better prepared for another internship or even a job that involves non-profit work, communications skills, tropical ecology research, or conservation work. It was so refreshing to be doing work that I could directly see the positive results from. In this role I was helping to improve the larger world and make a significant impact on the wildlife, people, and environment of Costa Rica. When I walked into the Osa office I knew I was doing something that mattered and that made all the difference.

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Photo Credit : Manuel Sanchez Mendoza

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A Look into the Life of a Research Assistant on the Osa

By Jane Hamilton:

When I left the Osa Peninsula in the summer of 2014, I thought I might never return. The trip had been a life changing experience for me and the peninsula was the most wonderful and exciting place I had ever been. Unfortunately, it is not the easiest place to get to from Scotland. I assumed life would lead me down other paths.

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Last June I graduated from university with a degree in zoology and little idea of what to do next. All I had was a vague notion that I wanted a job in active conservation work. Six months later I found myself boarding a plane to Costa Rica, to return to the Osa Peninsula where I had had my first experience of wildlife conservation.

As a research assistant on the sea turtle programme at Osa Conservation, I monitor the beaches daily; collecting data on nesting turtles, tagging adult females, and helping hatchlings to reach the ocean. Just last week I saw my first green turtle hatchlings. Eleven little turtles had been left behind from a mass hatching, tangled in tree roots that had threaded their way through the nest during incubation.

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Conservation can be a disheartening field to work in. We are faced with so many problems to overcome and it is easy to question whether or not our attempts are actually making a difference. All I can do is hope that my actions as an individual will make a small contribution to the bigger picture.

The data that I collect as a research assistant can be used to protect the population of turtles which depend on these beaches to nest. Each piece of litter I pick up from the beach is one less piece damaging our marine environment and the amazing creatures that depend on it to survive. Every hatchling that I help to reach the ocean is another chance for an adult to return here to nest in 30 years’ time. Every nest I relocate to a safer site could mean a hundred little chances for an adult to return.

As a graduate I entered the ‘real world’ with a hope to make a small difference in the fight to save our environment and the wildlife that shares this world with us. I hope my time spent here working for Osa will be my first step in fulfilling that dream.

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Photo Credit : Manuel Sanchez Mendoza

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Carbon Storage and Restoration: The Only Way Forward!

By Beatriz Lopez

Last week, here at Piro Biological Station, we celebrated the Carbon Sequestration and Restoration in the Lowland Tropical Forests Workshop organized by Osa Conservation and sponsored by the Bobolink Foundation.

All of the sudden, Piro Station was buzzing with local and international scientist and researchers from whom participants, volunteers, and members of the staff, like me, had the privilege to learn, to exchange ideas, and also to connect and foster future collaborations.

The workshop brought together leaders in Carbon and Restoration Research, for example: Dr. Thomas E. Lovely whose contribution to Environmental Policy and International Conservation are well known around the world; Dr. Robin Chazdon whose understanding on social and ecological drivers of tropical reforestation and her long-term research in forest regeneration around Costa Rica made her the perfect participant for this small gathering; Carlos Manuel Rodriguez who has greatly contributed to the Costa Rican Environmental Policy and to the understanding the economics of conservation; Jorge Rodriguez and Oscar Sanchez from the National Forestry Financing Fund (Fonafifo) in charge of payment of environmental services provided by forests in Costa Rica, as well as many early career researchers like Philip Taylor, Megan Nasto, Brooke Osborne, Silvia Alvarez-Clare, Maga Gei, and Faith Inman-Narahari all researching different aspects of nutrient sequestration and availability or Anton Weissenhofer, Daniel Jenking, Rebecca Cole more focused in forest restauration.

Max Villalobos and Jim Palmer represented Osa Conservation by explaining the future reforestation plans for our Finca Osa Verde which includes experimental restoration plots that are already being studied. Gloriana Chaverri, also a workshop participant, explained how she is using one of them to investigate the use of artificial bat boxes and guano extracted seeds in tropical forest restauration.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.32.46 AM(L-R): Adam Parr, Phil Taylor, Rebecca Cole, Megan Nasto, Cory Cleveland, Silvia Alvarez-Clare, Justin Pepper, Renée McKeon, Gloriana Chaverri; L-R: Jorge Rodriguez, Chris Balzotti, Jane Hamilton, Patricia Perles, Tabea Zimmermann, Brooke Osborne, Robin Chazdon, Faith Inman-Narahari, Tom Lovejoy, Jim Palmer, Maga Gei; L-R: Oscar Sanchez, Max Villalobos, Charlie Wheeler, Bea Lopez, Anton Weissenhofer Daniel Jenking, Alejandro Muñoz, Manuel Ramirez, Stephen Porder.

During the workshop presentations, talks and gatherings many things were said, some of the statements I liked the most were:

“The world has its eyes on conservation and climate change” said Justin Pepper referring to the global agreement in climate change signed in Paris.

“Humans need to transition from being clever to being wise” said by Thomas Lovejoy discussing human’s use of resources and climate change.

The highlight for me was to see the potential of new technologies such as the Airborne Mapping System which combines laser and spectral instrumentation aboard a plane to reveal an ecosystem’s chemistry, structure, biomass, and biodiversity presented by Philip Taylor or the work that Eben Broadbent is carrying out with drones that are able to monitor human-environment interactions and their impacts on ecosystems.

Personally, one of the things that impressed me the most, was the high number of accomplished female researchers present at the Workshop. Being a female researcher myself, I was always divided between having a successful professional career and having a family. Chatting to some these women, I learnt that there is no need to compromise and that we can get the best of both worlds. In fact, researcher’s children often accompany their parents when they carry out their research fieldwork. These experiences are very positive for the kids as they get exposed to people with different backgrounds, new cultures, get close to nature, and learn about the importance of conservation which can be decisive to achieve  some of the challenges that we and planet earth are facing.

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