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Volunteer experience at Tirimbina

By: Lieke Verhoeven and Carly Verhagen

¡Hola! we are Lieke Verhoeven and Carly Verhagen. We are two Dutch third-year students of Applied Biology. This study is focused on doing research. Costa Rica seemed the perfect place for doing an internship. Through our school we came to know about internship possibilities at Tirimbina Biological Reserve. As soon as we checked out the website and the volunteer program, we knew this was the perfect opportunity for our internship. So now we are here for 5 months, from April till August 2011. We have chosen for the project about phenology of Ficus. This seemed very interesting for us, because we are both very interested in forest conservation and we didn’t do a project like this before.

The project started in October 2009. Since then, they check every Ficus tree in the reserve. During this, the condition of fruits and leaves is estimated. After a few years, hopefully a fruiting pattern will be found for each tree. The second part of the project is bird observation. A lot of animals, like birds, bats and other mammals, are attracted to the Ficus fruits and disperse the seeds.

We help Tirimbina to collect data for the project, but we also need the data for our own research report. As long as we are here for our internship, we help the Ficus specialist with the monthly estimations. The biggest part of our project is observing the birds which are attracted to the Ficus fruits. Therefore we go twice a day into the rainforest, in the early morning and in the afternoon. In the beginning it was hard for us to find the Ficus trees and to get to know the bird species, but it is getting better! We really enjoy being in the rainforest every day, walking around and see a lot of beautiful things.


During our internship, Tirimbina offered us an accommodation in the ‘research area’. Here live more volunteers and researchers and everyone is doing their one project. It is very interesting to see others doing research on different disciplines of Biology. It is also nice and fun to live together with them!

A great thing about our internship at Tirimbina is that we have a lot of spare time. For this reason, we can travel a lot and we have seen many beautiful places in Costa Rica. From the Caribbean coast till the Pacific. Everywhere we go, the people are very friendly and helpful. There are a lot of other tourists we meet. We also really like the climate and the food!

Doing an internship in Costa Rica is a great experience for us. We can recommend it to everybody. It is such a big difference with Europe, but it is very nice and we learn so much of the differences in culture etc.

We are going to enjoy the rest of our time here. Pura vida!

We offer education
programs for
all levels.

Explore the trails and
discover the flora
and fauna of our region.

Research in one of
the most diverse sites
in the world.