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Training the next generation of conservation leaders

Reflections by field course students. Compiled by Hilary Brumberg, field course manager.

We recently kicked off our second annual Tropical Ecology & Conservation Leadership Field Course at Osa Conservation. During this 8 week intensive field course, we provide hands-on experience and training for the next generation of conservation leaders. The course brings together an impressive international group of young scientist from Costa Rica and abroad to experience our living laboratory, the Osa Verde BioStation, and to learn real-life skills for successful careers in conservation and research in a hands-on setting.

Here are reflections from the students on their first week and what they’re looking forward to learning over the rest of the course:

I will be living during 8 weeks at Osa Peninsula, and I’m really excited about it. The first week has been a bunch of new experiences, passionate people, tastes, knowledge and places, and this variety is what makes this opportunity gratifying. This is not just a professional growth opportunity, it’s also a way to have a personal development, as we have had a strong focus in our soft skills. We can be incredible students, researchers, engineers, but if we don’t know how to transmit the knowledge with other people and listen to their ideas and experience, we won’t have the same effect as desired. We have learned about the rainforest, ecology restoration, climate connectivity, shared work with communities, environmental education, sea turtles, among others. Something that caught my attention, as I believe that it is really important, is that in case we are working with communities, we must understand first their own relation with the environment and detect the leadership to transmit a message; that’s how a joint and integral transformation is built. In synthesis, I would say that being in Osa Conservation is a way to keep learning, keep trying, keep asking and keep sharing.
— Natalia Gómez

My first week in Osa! I arrived in Osa after a long trip, excited to know one of the most amazing places on the planet that despite not being very large, houses 2.5% of the world’s diversity. Over the course of the week we got to know each other with each other’s interests. We met the Osa Conservation staff and learn about the projects they have in the different areas. Among the activities we carried out was a patrolling of sea turtles in which we helped 12 olive ridley turtles arrive safe and sound to the sea to start their life. We also did a climbing trees activity in which surprisingly it didn´t go wrong for me (as you can see in the photo).
— Eblin Pereyra Mejía

The Osa Peninsula is one of my favorite places in Costa Rica, and I love being in Osa Conservation. After one week here, I have learned about different topics–some topics I was already interested in and some topics I now want to know more about. I have met people of different countries who are interested in nature. We have shared some ideas, and I have learned from their cultures. I’m excited because I’m going to be here for seven more weeks exploring and learning about conservation and ecology.
–Keylin Castro Avendaño

I feel very excited to be in one of the most diverse places in the world and where there may be mythical raptors such as the harpy eagle. I am also excited to be able to understand better how technology can help us to understand in a better way the biological processes. Additionally, this first week in Osa Conservation has been very interesting due to the diversity of topics that have been presented in the talks.
–Jorge Mauricio De la O Castro

This week I met some incredibly talented and dedicated people, who not only shared their knowledge with me but wanted to also learn from my professional experience. I feel like a full-fledged conservationist! If this was only the first week I can’t wait for the seven more to come; I’m sure they’ll be wonderful.
— María José Álvarez

I am in a place with one of the highest biodiversity of the world. I am learning about conservation with a very varied and motivating program. Now, in the first week, new skills, new ideas and new people in an comfortable learning environment. I expect for the follow weeks, the Peninsula show me more wonders with the company of Osa Conservation.
— Randall Montoya-Solano

My first week in the forest of Osa Conservación has felt like wiping a slate clean. I have been able to leave my normal everyday cares behind and truly focus on the people and environment around me. My first morning here felt like waking up to a whole new world.
I have limited experience speaking Spanish in a foreign country, and I hope to improve my listening comprehension and speaking skills. Listening to such insightful lectures about my favorite conservation topics and chatting with students and staff at Osa is a great start!
–Jessica Copeland

A prophecy from an indigenous tribe native to North America says that when the planet was sick and the trees could not stand, a new race would emerge that would lead us to restore health to the planet. This new generation would be known as the rainbow warriors. My first week spent with the Osa Conservation team made me feel that we are facing the fulfillment of this prophecy.
–Jeremy Quirós Navarro

The Osa Peninsula will be my home for the next 8 weeks. I am hoping to learn about conservation from the best at Osa Conservation so I can figure out ways to protect the creatures I love the most.
— Francinie Guido

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