Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Stream Biomonitoring Program Costa Rica



This program is unique in the Central American tropics, and quite possibly on the planet in its blend of scientific research and applied conservation, working with indigenous and campesino communities. The region is unique in the immense variety of habitat types (streams from torrential to swampy and meandering) and cultural diversity (four indi […]

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Dates of program:
Mid-January to mid-May, 2023

Duration of program:
10 weeks minimum

Application deadline:
5th January 2023

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+


Other information:


Fantastic experience
"I had a wonderful experience during the 3 months that I volunteered with Bill, Maribel and Ana. They are wonderful people that you can rely on. The work is super fun, although it probably helped that I'm into fishing and boating. I loved the field days, a different location each day, sometimes far far into rainforest while staying overnight with local tribes. I ended up writing a scientific publication on the data that we gathered during my stay. On the off days I surfed the local surfbreaks around Puerto Viejo and made a trip over to the world class surf in Boca del Torro, Panama. So I highly recommend, you'll enjoy it too as long as you don't mind getting up early, as it can get muggy/hot in the afternoon."- Matt Eastwood
Amazing Experience!
"I can't think of a better way to spend 3 months. Biomonitoring is FUN, and you'll be contributing to a valuable dataset. You get to see all these amazing places that you wouldn't normally have access to, learn about the fish and ecosystems, and have a blast scooping up fish as fast as you can. The biological station is also really convenient to grocery stores you can walk to, and Puerto Viejo and several beaches are a short bus ride away. There's also tons to do when you have free time (Cahuita National Park, hiking in Manzanillo, chocolate making demonstrations, hanging out in Puerto Viejo, etc). Highly recommended!"- Isabel Hillman
An Introduction to the Life of an Aquatic Biologist
"Participating in the 2019 field season from February - April I was thrust into an unknown world of beautiful culture, strong, resilient communities connected through their shared watershed. It was a beautiful experience working with a dedicated team of seasoned aquatic biologists willing to share their knowledge with community members. I would highly recommend this opportunity, Bill, Maribel and Ana are extremely supportive and hard working to involve and educate the community in the stream biomonitoring program."- Tori Miller
Adventure of a lifetime
"Imagine yourself in the middle of a rainforest having just taken a dug-out canoe up a wide tropical river, and then spending a few hours splashing in the water in search of fish and laughing and joking with local volunteers in Spanish (whether you know it or not, humor is universal). This is what it's like to be a Biomonitoring volunteer. I was the first "long term" volunteer with biomonitoring from 2003-2005 and the experience has shaped my life. You learn a lot from immersion into a community and project, so the longer time commitment they are looking for (4 months plus) will bring lots of rewards- and you'll want to stay longer! Anyone with a love of the outdoors and a good sense of adventure looking for a meaningful way to contribute to conservation and science: consider volunteering for this program!"- Kirsten Harma
Volunteer 2018
"I was a volunteer ast year and it was an outstanding experience. I learn of course about rivers but not only. We worked a lot with local communities and it was particularly strong for me. I would recommend this project to everybody that likes biology and communities. You will be with an exceptional team rich of experiences."- Damien Chassagne
Learning opportunities, beauty and adventure
"I volunteered for this project for three months in the winter of 2018. This is truly a wonderful opportunity if you are a student looking to get a better understanding of biomonitoring proceedures. The range of skills that I developed during my time here is too long to list, but I will mention macro-invertebrate sampling and ID in the lab, assisting in electrofishing sampling, handling and maintaining field equipment such as waders and seine nets, and rapid sandwich-making. My favourite part of this experience was traveling to amazing remote locations in Talamanca, some of them accessible by river boat only. The hard work and long days somehow passed quickly when in the company of Ana, Bill and Maribel, who love to laugh at each other (and at you too). You won't find another internship that can compete in terms of learning opportunities, beauty and adventure. It has been almost a year since I was there and still think about it every day."- Alice Brown-Dussault

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