Costa Rica

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EPI and Costa Rica

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Collaborating for Conservation

Teens and teachers join researchers to learn about and help contribute to conservation projects focused on endangered sea turtles at one of the world’s most important nesting beaches for vulnerable leatherbacks.

From Caribbean nesting beaches to in-water surveys in the Pacific, hands-on sea turtle research forms the foundation for learning.

Costa Rican youth are inheriting both the old traditions of sea turtle consumption and the new traditions of conservation and protection. Without protection, more than 80% of sea turtle nests are lost to illegal harvest, a practice driven by a lack of connection to and awareness of sea turtles and their plight. Many Costa Rican teens have never seen a live turtle, nor do they know the importance of their beaches to the turtles’ survival. Since 2000, EPI has been changing the educational paradigm around conservation, engaging locals hands-on in protection efforts.

Today, our original partnership with Pacuare Reserve has blossomed into the foundation of our work at our program sites across the Americas. We now manage the Reserve and our participants work directly with scientists and researchers at Pacuare to collect data on the hundreds of leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles that nest there each year. During nightly surveys, they also help move and protect nests and the hatchlings within. Follow up alumni mentorship activities enhance leadership skills in the next generation while building critical thinking, a personal conservation ethic, and an awareness of environmental issues facing Costa Rica’s astounding biodiversity.

Dig Deeper: Costa Rica Program Impacts


2017 Season Impact Report                            Full Season Impact Infographic                              2018 Season Highlights


EPI Costa Rica Program Website

"Science is something that I have always liked, and here, I really discovered that is what I want to dedicate myself to."

Laura, local Costa Rica student

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Impact Stories

New possibilities revealed at Pacuare

Smallkel lives in Limon Province, just a short distance from Pacuare Reserve, one of the most biodiverse areas of Costa Rica and where EPI students help protect threatened leatherback sea trutles. When he started his EPI course, Smallkel was quiet, but with encouragement his confidence grew and he revealed a desire to deepen his involvement in conservation in his home country. While at the Reserve, Smallkel was introduced to education, career choices, and mentors that will help him become a lifelong steward of conservation. 

Kincaid Teacher On Her Way To Costa Rica

Originally published in the Galleria Patch Houston's environment is a lot different than Costa Rica's, a fact that should give Sarah Shea lots of adventure. Shea, a teacher at The Kincaid School, was awarded a fellowship that will take her to the Central American country for eight days to take part in an ecological program. Shea was chosen by Ecology Project International (EPI), an organization that teams scientists with students and educators for ventures in Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos, Baja Mexico, Yellowstone, Hawaii, and Belize. "This was definitely one of the best professional development programs I have... Learn More

News Stories: About EPI

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