Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world's biodiversity,
including the vulnerable leatherback sea turtle.
Collaborating for Conservation
The Caribbean beach in Costa Rica is the most important leatherback nesting ground in the world.
And Costa Rican youth are inheriting both the old traditions of turtle egg poaching and the new traditions of conservation and protection of the place they call home. Many Costa Rican teens have never seen a leatherback, nor do they know the importance of their beaches to the leatherback's journey. In 2000, EPI set out to change the education paradigm around conservation. We invited 61 local teens and teachers on course with us, and in a matter of days, we saw the impact firsthand.
Today, our original partnership with Pacuare Nature Reserve has blossomed into the foundation of our work in Costa Rica and all our program sites. Our participants work directly with scientists and researchers at Pacuare to collect data on the leatherbacks who nest there each year. They also help move and protect the leatherback nests, ensuring the protection of the hatchlings within. Pre- and post-course programming provide additional leadership skills, building critical thinking, a personal conservation ethic, and an awareness of environmental issues facing Costa Rica.
"I never knew how important leatherbacks are for the ecosystem. Where I come from, nobody pays attention to them, and it's common to see people selling their eggs. I was shocked to see people working so hard to protect endangered species, and I want to be part of that effort to make a positive impact."
Shanil, a local Costa Rican student, recently joined us on an EPI field course, and her experience at Pacuare had a profound impact.
On course, her instructors described her as an enthusiastic and upbeat student, a great leader, and a positive motivator. Before the course, Shanil admits that she felt she was doing her part to help the environment; but her time volunteering at Pacuare Reserve with EPI opened her eyes. She says it was at Pacuare that she realized she could be more involved in conservation in her own community.
Students enjoy ‘pure life’
This simple Costa Rican phrase translated from Spanish means “Pure Life” and is what 17 former and current Cody High School students and three adults experienced on their trip with the organization Ecology Project International (EPI).
“The moment when it hit me like how important the little things are,” Kevin Page said. “When I first got there I was, like, what are you doing here? It was so rugged and I didn’t have all the luxuries I was used to but then I finally realized you don’t need much to... Learn More