Environmental Education, Volunteers and Visitors

Changing the world with ‘people power’

By Ted May, General Volunteer

Many environmentally-aware people, including myself, are attracted to Costa Rica because of the awesome biodiversity there. One has opportunity to explore part of a country that houses 5% of the world’s biodiversity in 51,100 km2– mid-way in size between the U.S. state of West Virginia and the European country of Denmark.

Ted May climbing a tree to install an owl box, to create microhabitats to help bird populations.

When I arrived as a volunteer at Osa Conservation this March, I was able to explore part of this area, and—with my limited time and familiarity with “seeing” birds in Costa Rica—I still managed to find more than 135 different bird species.  It was amazing, and delightful in many ways.

But what stands out in my mind the most is the experiences I had with the people at Osa Conservation.  It is incredibly inspiring to see the people power of the many dedicated volunteers, staff and visitors.

Visitors and volunteers assisting with a sunrise patrol with the Sea Turtle Program.

Mariam, Shannon and Dylan teamed up to oversee the Sea Turtle Program. Their dedication is exceptional. Not only do they walk 10-20 km daily (much on the beach), but they also record data to monitor their progress and make exceptional presentations to various publics to help others see not just the beauty of the turtles, but the important roles they play in the global seas (control of sea grass and jellyfish, food source for many others, and so much more).

Marina – who I call the Poison Dart Woman— is conducting research into the fascinating lives of these unique frogs, to help us understand them,and how they can at times serve as barometers to the health of the tropical rainforest ecosystem. Her enthusiasm bubbles over when she shares “her” frogs, excited to be working with fragile and yet widely-recognized critters.

There were many others: Jo from Belgium, the Costa Rican cooks (great local food!), the friendly greeting faces of Lucía and Karla and many other Costa Rican staff.  I also was able to meet some of the visitors there, including an awesome team of people from National Geographic, and some wonderful returning volunteers from varying countries.

Ted May and Andreas Aere collecting fluff from the balsa tree fruit to create beds for orchids.

I was grateful to be able to commit 2.5 weeks of my life helping with various projects in this awesome place. In the process, I learned a lot and was greatly inspired, having met some incredible young people who are investing their lives in our global future – thank you each and all.

So, thank you for allowing me to explore the richness of the Costa Rican diversity; I found it very valuable to be able to interact with a small part of it.  Even more-so, thank you for being able to attract such a rich variety of people there in various roles – people who are working to “change the world” in many ways with Osa Conservation, and who will, I am confident, continue to do so in their lives after Osa.


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