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Humans and The Rainforest (Virtual) | Costa Rica, Central America

More photos of this internship may be found here.

Join the efforts of this public service non-profit to empower a community to take proactive steps towards a more sustainable future!  Here, the relationships between community, environment, and tourism, are viewed from a holistic perspective. Programming centers around topics of public health, permaculture, water quality, ecology, and reforestation, all with the backdrop of sustainable ecotourism.

This internship program is designed for a part-time, virtual format, adapted from the full-time, in-person Humans and the Rainforest program.  In the virtual format, interns choose an area of focus for their internship from among the following: environment and conservation, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and sustainability and resilience (see Job Description, below).  The host organization will then match the intern with specific projects.

Internship Start Dates:

  • Flexible start dates at the beginning of each academic term.

Duration of Internship: 

  • Between 120 and 240 hours spread over 6-12 weeks.

Costa Rica, and specifically the Monteverde area, has long been a world leader in ecotourism and is also at the forefront of efforts related to climate change.  This host site is well-respected for its holistic, positive, and solutions-focused approach to a wide-range of topics related to topics of climate change, social justice, community health, conservation, and ecotourism.

The majority of the population of Monteverde is employed within the tourism industry. This non-profit organization is looking a step ahead to consider the impacts of ecotourism on the local community and then to take proactive steps to help the community develop in a sustainable way alongside the ecotourism industry. This organization also strives to identify community needs and generate and implement creative solutions, gradually transferring ownership of these projects into the hands of the community.

Interns will identify which of the following broad categories is most of interest to them, and the host organization will then match the intern with specific projects.

Environment and Conservation: Research is supported by, and informs, the host organization’s academic programs and community initiatives. The objective of this internship is to convert raw data into results usable for publication, informing conservation priorities, educating diverse local, national, and international audiences, and laying the groundwork for further research and conservation.  This internship can contribute to research in areas such as neotropical migratory bird conservation, tropical habitat restoration, comparative forest integrity, bat distributions, water quality, and meteorological monitoring. Under the guidance of a principal investigator or researcher, interns may prepare and analyze scientific data, interpret results, and prepare the information for distribution to a wider audience (possibly including publication).

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Map viewer development is a widely applicable and fast-evolving area of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), as evidenced by the number of applications for the general public to display and visualize different types of data. Illustrative examples of GIS projects with this organization may include: making geographic information for vulnerable species easily accessible to the general public through a GIS viewer; developing an interactive map of local, regional, and national producers for the Monteverde zone; and developing a publicly accessible navigable interactive map for the host organizations website.

Sustainability and Resilience: This work will support the design of resilient and regenerative communities and community-driven organizations. Illustrative examples of projects include: assessing impacts of local home gardens in the Monteverde zone on economy and food security, permaculture design, and assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on the community of Monteverde, which is highly dependent on tourism.


  • Completed coursework in relevant fields for the projects in which the intern is interested.


  • For permaculture projects, demonstrable skills in research, technical writing, mapping and/or GIS will be considered.
  • GIS work requires advanced knowledge of ArcGIS and open-source GIS web application development
  • Experience completing collaborative academic or professional work remotely


  • Basic Spanish is helpful, but not required, for most projects.
  • Interns wishing to work in sustainability and resilience must have high-intermediate Spanish skills (at a minimum).


  • Tech skills and reliable access to computer and internet.
  • Ability to work independently and manage time well on a day-to-day basis in a virtual environment.
  • High level of: Maturity, personal responsibility, cultural sensitivity, professionalism, independence, demonstrated initiative, independent problem-solving skills, adaptability, and patience.

The program fee is based on the in the total number of work hours and academic credits.  During the application review phase, your Program Coordinator will provide you with an estimated program budget, based on your specific circumstances and internship program. See examples of estimated program fees below.

This internship program ranges from about 120-240 hours over a 6-12 week period.

Quarter Schools

1 undergrad academic credit = 30 total work hours

  • 4 credit internship (120 work hours):    $1,272
  • 5 credit internship (150 work hours):    $1,590
  • 6 credit internship (180 work hours):    $1,908
  • 7 credit internship (210 work hours):    $2,226
  • 8 credit internship (240 work hours):    $2,544

Semester Schools

1 undergrad academic credit = 45 total work hours

  • 3 credit internship (135 work hours):    $1,431
  • 4 credit internship (180 work hours):    $1,908
  • 5 credit internship (225 work hours):    $2,226
  • 6 credit internship (270 work hours):    $2,862*


  • Internship sites vary in their availability of work hours per week. Most internships can offer between 10-20 hours per weekand most students prefer to stay within this range of hours.
  • For internships that falls in between the academic credits/work hours model outlined above, the cost will default to the next highest program fee. For example, for a quarter school, an internship totaling 135 work hours will default to the higher cost of a 150 hour internship, $1,590.

* While estimated pricing for 270 work hours is provided, prospective interns should plan on a maximum of 250 hours.

Check out pictures this internship site.


Fall | Winter | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

Summer: January 25
Fall: April 15
Winter: September 1
Spring: November 15

Basic Requirements

- See Qualifications/Requirements section