Nature Reserve & Biological Station
In the reserve and at the field station there is always plenty to do. We welcome volunteers who want to help us with our day-to-day activities to manage the nature reserve and support our conservation work. To realize our different activities in the reserve we rely on the helping hands of volunteers who in turn will be able to experience the vast natural beauty of the Chocó rainforest at a considerably low cost.
Volunteers help us with the following tasks (click on pictures for more info):
There are a couple of tasks that need to be done every day and volunteers can give us a hand with: - cooking - watering plants - feeding the chickens - keeping the station house clean
In the past few years we have established several nature trails which are necessary to access the different parts of the reserve to realize field studies or simply to enjoy the forest and observe the diverse animal and plant life. There is always some maintenance work to do to keep the trails clean from vegetation or fallen branches. The steps and signs also need to be replaced every once in a while.
With our organic garden we would like to self-supply the station with different vegetables. Besides various fruit trees, we have planted yucca (manioc), sugar cane, bananas and plantains. There is also a small vegetable garden. You can help to water the organic garden and produce compost, to cultivate and plant saplings, to weed and care for the garden and finally to harvest.
We have established fruit feeding stations for certain bird and mammal species in the reserve. With those stations we try to facilitate the observation of some (rare) species which would normally be very difficult to observe. At the same time these feeding stations are also used to monitor the bird and mammal diversity in the reserve. The banana feeders need to be cleaned and refilled twice a week.
Skilled volunteers are also welcome to paint our outhouses or signs for the garden etc.
Volunteers can help building signs for our nature trails, the plants in the garden and other new features.
Professional carpenters or volunteers with manual skills are always welcome at the station. They can help Wilo with the maintenance and wood work around the station.
In 2015 we have started a small reforestation project in order to replant trees on cattle fields and improve the forest quality in secondary growth. Therefore we collect seeds (and saplings) of primary forest trees, but also of palm trees and pioneer species. With these plants we have created a small nursery and want to support local reforestation projects in the future.
In times of social media we are also trying not to stay behind and regularly report about news from our reserve on our blog and Facebook page. Therefore our volunteers can also write short articles or create videos about their experiences, certain events, or findings for our blog.
Despite the helping hands sometimes we simply lack financial resources to get projects up and running. We are extremely grateful for professionals in fundraising who can support our conservation work with appeals for donations or the creation of a crowdfunding-campaign.
Volunteer Work FAQs
Who can apply?
We welcome volunteers from all backgrounds and ages (18+). Prior experience is not necessarily required. We are generally looking for nature-loving, open-minded people who don't mind to get their hands dirty. Sometimes daily activities require us to work in rainy or hot and sunny conditions. And sometimes the work can also be physically demanding. Therefore volunteers should come with a reasonable level of physical fitness. Volunteers share a house and often also rooms with other volunteers or students. Therefore they should come open-minded to a situation where they might not have as much privacy for a while. We ask our volunteers to be respectful, organized and tidy, in order to guarantee a harmonic work and living experience for everybody.
Is there a cost for volunteering?
We charge from 125 US$ per week to cover the expenses for food and lodging at the station house.
What does the work schedule for volunteers look like?
We expect volunteers to help us with our daily chores for about 5 hours per day (usually 8am-1pm) on week days. Afternoons and weekends are free.
Is there a minimum stay?
Yes! We prefer volunteers who commit to at least 4 weeks of volunteer work.
Do volunteers participate in biological research in the reserve?
Volunteers usually only help us with the daily tasks that don't require specific training and/or supervision. If you are interested in participating in biological research projects, you could combine the volunteer work with a biological internship. Or if you are already a skilled professional in one of our fields of research (e.g. bird banding), please contact us to enquire about current opportunities.
My time as a volunteer was something I will never forget. I am very glad I could leave something behind. Working with Wilo and Christian was very pleasant and we had a lot of fun.