Hannah her life-changing and eye-opening experience at Work with Nature in Costa Rica
Hannah Elzinga, USA
“Being an Environmental Research Intern for two months was truly a life-changing and eye-opening experience. I found this internship because I was looking to do something good for the planet while traveling and advancing my career in conservation biology. This experience was the perfect combination of all three. I chose work with nature because Marteen (the primary biologist and co-founder of the foundation) let me design my own research project. Because I already had some experience with field biology and doing biological research I wanted to see if I could challenge myself to design and execute my own project. I ended up establishing a system for monitoring biodiversity levels in different types of rainforest and reforested areas. This was truly a valuable collaborative effort between myself, Marteen and Hanneke and ended up being a very successful project.
In addition to working on my research project, the other students and I helped out around the farm, picking fruits, planting and weeding as well as helped out in the village with community projects such as picking up trash, painting the village health center and teaching English to local students. The work I did with Work With Nature was rewarding in more ways than one.
In addition to Hanneke and Marteen being amazing hosts, the other students that were living on the farm became really close friends. We all shared a common love and interest in biology and conservation and being able to explore Costa Rica together lead us to all become very close. In addition Tapa, our awesome field guide and good friend, was our connection to the local community and culture. A local from the village, cooked us amazing traditional Costa Rican dishes throughout the week and we were always excited to see her walking down the path towards our kitchen. On the weekends, my friends and I would often take a bus to one of the nearby towns to explore Costa Rica a little more. I ended up traveling around Costa Rica and Panama for a month after my stay and being so immersed in the culture by living on the farm for two months was a great introduction to the country. This was my first time traveling alone internationally so I was a little nervous, but that feeling quickly went away and I always felt very safe on the farm and everywhere I traveled within Costa Rica.
If these weren’t reasons enough already to volunteer for this internship, the mission might be. WWN uses the money from volunteers and donations to buy up hectares of land in order to preserve and reforest areas that have been deforested or are in danger of being deforested. You may even get to plant some trees that will contribute to much needed rainforest in the future!
After my experience in Costa Rica, I had a better sense of the career I wanted to pursue and the kind of life I wanted to live when I got back home. There is no better way to get to know the amazing rainforests and culture of Costa Rica than being so immersed and being surrounded by amazing people from all over the world.