A Gap Year
in the Rainforest
Spend 4 to 16 weeks in Costa Rica, working with wildlife and across cultures, as you deepen your experience in the sciences and build leadership skills for life.
Join EPI on a journey of science and self-discovery.
At EPI, we believe that learning, at its best, involves more than just the mind. It involves the whole person, the head, the heart, and the hands. EPI's Gap Year Program is designed to facilitate an exploratory and holistic approach to science and sustainability. By working directly with researchers, protecting wildlife, and conducting meaningful service work, you'll learn what captivates you, what inspires you, and what you want to contribute to the world. And the opportunity to extend your stay as a Research & Conservation Intern will allow you to build on those experiences and emerge prepared for any future.
EPI is currently accepting applications to its Spring and Summer Gap Year Programs.
At a Glance
Dates and Duration
The core program is 4 weeks in length:
Spring: March 29 - April 26
Summer: June 14 - July 11
Internship extensions range from
4 to 12 weeks.
Tuition & Fees
The 4-week core program is $4,250 plus airfare. All food, lodging, in-country transportation included.
The cost for the internship extension is $250 per week in room and board.
The program is open to high school graduates, including currently enrolled college students, ages 18+.
Students can receive up to 8 undergraduate credits through EPI's partnership with Hamline University. Or students can opt to receive independent credit through their home institutions.
As part of the core program students will receive certifications in:
• Wilderness First Aid (WFA) for completion of a course in wilderness medicine
• Pacuare Reserve Wildlife Assistant (PRWA) for protocol training and 30 hours of wildlife research
We encourage all students to apply for our need-based financial aid. The deadline for financial aid is February 28th.
Whether you're measuring sea turtles under the cover of night or planting a garden with the local community, this program is designed as an immersive introduction to field science and sustainability.
The program curriculum dives into four interwoven modules that address important issues in wildlife conservation, and activities like hands-on data collection, community service work, and outdoor adventure bring these subjects to life.
Through self-reflection, exploration, and skill-building, you'll emerge with greater clarity about your plans for the future.
Rainforest & Wildlife Research
Cultural Contexts in Science & Conservation
Science and wildlife conservation do not occur in a vacuum. Cultural context matters. Costa Rica has a long and celebrated history of wildlife conservation, but the on-the-ground realities are more complicated.
Service & Sustainability
It is impossible to understand and address the issues facing wildlife without recognizing the critical social and economic factors that bear on it. It's all part of a sytem, and in a broad sense, sustainability is an effort to bring those systemic elements into balance.
The Field Station
EPI's Gap Year program is hosted at Pacuare Reserve, a tropical research station located on Costa Rica's remote Caribbean Coast. The facilities at the Reserve are rustic. With cabanas and cots, simple meals, and solar electricity, it's the perfect introduction to life as a field scientist.
Looking for a career in the sciences? Want to work with wildlife? Participants who have successfully completed the core Gap Year Program are eligible to serve as Research & Conservation Interns at Pacuare Reserve.