A Week in the Life of a Conservation Volunteer

Blogpost written by Sydney Denham, Conservation Volunteer

Underneath Osa's Canopy; photo by Manuel Sánchez

Underneath Osa’s Canopy. Photo by Manuel Sánchez

As a Conservation Volunteer at Osa Conservation, I get the best of every world. I am taking a year off after graduating high school to explore my many interests in an attempt to better understand some of the subjects I am considering studying in college, one of which is biology. What better place to fully experience the life of a field biologist than at a research station in one of the most biologically intense places on Earth, surrounded by scientists in action? By taking a look at just one of my five weeks at Osa, you can get a glimpse of the many fields of study operating in this ecosystem. By participating in many of Osa’s projects, I can see the important connections between various areas of research, and get a taste of what being a field biologist is all about.
One day, I might wake up at 4:30 am to do a turtle patrol. Rain or shine, dark or light, I’ll walk down to one of the two beaches that several species of sea turtles use as laying grounds. Trudging through the sand, we will look for signs of a nest in need of relocating or that has been pillaged by hungry predators. We will put on our gloves and get to digging, then measure, count and carry the sea turtle eggs. In just a single day I will witness some of the most important stages of a turtle’s life cycle.


Nesting sea turtle on the shore of the Osa.              Photo by Manuel Sánchez

That same day, I might work with the plots, where I tag, plant, and map our future rainforests. I could see spider monkeys climbing through nearby trees, knowing that generations later, their offspring will be eating the fruit and climbing through the now one-meter-tall trees I’ve just measured.

Another day I might go out and observe stingless bees for a couple of hours at the base of a great Ajo tree. I will jot down notes of their behavior, thinking they too will live in the trees of the budding rainforest I recently tagged. During the stroll back to the station, I can see the clear water of Rio Piro and remember the lessons of its importance to the monkeys, bees, and trees that make up a fraction of the peninsula’s biodiversity. 



Volunteer working with Rio Piro; photo by Sawyer Judge

As I continue to help the hard-working scientists in their fields, I gain a better understanding of the interconnectedness of the work done at Osa Conservation. No one field is more important than another, and each step forward in any of the programs is ultimately a success for every project. The regeneration of forests leads to cleaner river water as well as population growth in jungle species. I get the sense that I am momentarily a single muscle in the legs of Osa Conservation, walking toward a greener Earth.

Intern Osa Conservation
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