Volunteer Information

Osa Interactive Gardens
Volunteer Information 2018

Name/Address of the project: Osa Interactive Gardens/ 500 meters west from the BM, Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica (5-minute walk from town center).

Contact information: Colleen Spurlock Tel: +506-8727-2305 or info@osainteractivegardens.com; Rayner Araya, Tel: +506-8836-4114 or Rayner.araya@gmail.com

Mission and Vision of the project (short description): Osa Interactive Gardens (O.I.G.) is a private reserve for rainforest conservation and environmental education. The O.I.G. property is approximately 2 hectares of restored secondary forest that includes a 25×35 meter enclosed butterfly habitat and botanical gardens. The gardens include an extensive collection of plants that attract butterflies and wildlife, medicinal plants, and food crops that have been ecologically integrated into the forest habitat.
A major focus of the project is butterflies (order Lepidoptera) because of their importance to the rainforest ecosystem and teaching tool. Many butterfly species are at risk of population collapse due to loss of habitat, pollution, and climate change. By actively protecting and educating about butterflies, all the rainforest benefits. Butterflies are widely loved and it is easy to understand why they need protection, which makes them a great topic to lead in to teach about biodiversity and the complex relationships in the environment that support a healthy forest. We teach these concepts in workshops at local schools and host school field trips with local and visiting students. O.I.G. is committed to community development and promotes participation and interaction with nature to bring awareness, understanding, and action for rainforest conservation.

Target group of the project: Local and visiting students of all ages.

Staff in the project (employed and honorary):
Director: Rayner Araya (rayner.araya@gmail.com)
Naturalist guide in Costa Rica for more than fifteen (15) years
Guide for Wild Planet Adventures, an international eco-tour company
Corcovado National Park Registered guide
Staff at Organization of Tropical Studies (O.T.S.), Sarapiqui, Costa Rica
Fluent in English and Spanish
Project and Volunteer Coordinator: Colleen Spurlock (info@osainteractivegardens.com)
PhD and Masters from University of California-Davis in Horticulture and        Agronomy
Supervisor for four (4) years of a Coast Redwood tissue culture lab at Green Diamond Resource Company (GDRCo) forest nursery in Korbel, CA and data analyst for the GDRCo tree improvement department.
Lecturer at Humboldt State University

Instructor/Supervisor of the volunteer/s on site: Colleen Spurlock or Rayner Araya

Working fields of the project: Garden development and maintenance, butterfly tasks, school workshop development and visits (on-site and at local schools), educational exhibits and displays, preparing and tabling at events (such as Lapathon 10K race in May/June, bird-a-thons, local conservation events, etc.)

Tasks of the volunteer: Gardening work includes planting, soil preparation, filling plant bags, weeding, harvest, irrigation, seed processing, etc.
Butterfly tasks include egg and caterpillar collection, trap monitoring, butterfly tagging and mapping, host plant propagation and collection.
School groups visit the property on average 1-3 times per month (January-September) and we participate in school workshops and activities about once a month (February-October). Volunteers will support the tour leader and may be asked to help develop activities. Transportation from O.I.G. to the local schools is provided for O.I.G. volunteers.

Requirements of the project for the volunteers: Working hours on the property are 7AM-4PM Monday-Friday. Volunteers staying at O.I.G. property housing typically work 4 to 6 hours per day four days a week starting no later than 8 AM and finishing by 2PM, with lunch around noon. Volunteers can work out a schedule with the supervisor and should notify if they cannot work or are traveling. Those not staying in O.I.G. housing can arrange flexible work hours, but we ask for 24-hour notice of any changes. The number of work hours depends on the nature of the day’s tasks. There will be days of hard work in the sun, like filling plant nursery bags with soil or digging holes to plant trees, and days that involve more slow, thoughtful work like making rooted cuttings or collecting butterfly eggs and caterpillars. The more laborious days we work shorter hours. Volunteers will be trained on each new task.
Soft skills: plant propagation, seed processing, egg and caterpillar collection, butterfly trap monitoring, data collection/entry, plant pruning, design exhibits, computer work.
Hard skills: digging, sifting soil, moving soil/planting bags/rocks, working with basic tools and construction. The heat is difficult to work in, so we take plenty of breaks and provide shade and water.

Learning opportunities/skill enhancement/contents of the training (what can the volunteer learn in the project): The experience of volunteering at O.I.G. offers many opportunities to gain hands-on experience in ecology, botany, butterflies, and organic agriculture. Volunteers may be trained to identify butterfly host plants and how to search for and identify eggs and caterpillars. Volunteers are taught different uses for plants (food, medicinal, household) and how to identify and grow them. O.I.G. is a biological corridor in the Osa Peninsula and the property is visited daily by butterflies, macaws, toucans, and several species of monkeys. Over 130 bird species have been recorded and four species of monkey can be seen in a single day. Every day there is something new to learn and explore on the property and surrounding jungle.

Living situation and meals (in a host family or in the project): There is a small cabin on site with 1 bedroom (2 beds), bathroom, and outside shower (kitchenette and laundry coming soon) that is for rent to volunteers for  $15/night and $250/month shared or $400/month private. Lunch and dinner are occasionally provided but otherwise volunteers prepare the meals themselves. Volunteers traveling alone may be assigned a roommate. Volunteers may not bring overnight visitors to the property. Anyone interested in visiting Osa Interactive Gardens must make a reservation and agree to the terms and conditions (find “Cabin Rules” below)

If volunteers do not wish to stay on-site, it is up to them to plan living arrangements.

What is the typical length of stay for a volunteer?: Volunteers can come for the day or stay for several months. We ask for 24-hours prior notice for drop-in volunteers.

We are open to accepting project proposals if individuals have a specific research interest or field they want to explore that advances O.I.G.’s mission of rainforest conservation and environmental education in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. There are other local organizations that we often collaborate with that may offer additional volunteer opportunities.

If interested, please apply online or email info@osainteractivegardens for an application and more information.

Additional Terms and Conditions