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Humans and the Rainforest | Monteverde, Costa Rica

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.

Internship Start Dates:

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

Duration of Internship:

  • 10-12 weeks, minimum.

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 choose two of the following projects to be involved in, depending on their interests and qualifications:

Reforestation and mapping

  • Tropical habitat restoration & mapping
  • Seed germination
  • Potential factors that affect the successful restoration of tropical habitats
  • Trail mapping
  • Materials development

Adopt a Stream Citizen Science Program

  • Work with local high school students to collect chemical and physical data and macroinvertebrates that serve as bioindicators of water quality. Conduct water quality assessment via these metrics.  These assessments are completed various times throughout the year
  • Develop educational materials and improve datasheets
  • Data entry
  • Take photo-documentation of stream activities and conditions

Permaculture Site Assessment & Design

  • Evaluate current techniques for composting and gardening and generate ideas for how to improve
  • Use existing natural resources (water, topography, flora/fauna, sun, wind, microclimates, etc.)
  • Incorporate other considerations, such as local laws and regulations regarding land use and changes to it, history of the site, off-site hazards, and access zones for vehicles, pedestrians, wildlife, etc.

Community Health Program

  • In collaboration with internship supervisors, identify priority tasks/locations, which will include educational programs related topics such as the following: nutrition, preventative health issues, sports and physical activities, stress management and the arts.
  • Facilitate participation in activities and create related educational materials.

Other programs may be available, depending on season and supervisor availability.  Topics may include:  science communication and journalism, wildlife habitat conservation, medicinal herbalism, and soil analysis.

Academic Background:

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

Skills / Experience:

For permaculture projects, demonstrable skills in research, technical writing, mapping and/or GIS will be considered.

Language Requirements:

Basic Spanish is helpful, but not required, for most projects.

Advanced Spanish is required for interns wanting to work with community health initiatives, and native speaker fluency is preferred.  Interns wishing to participate in projects of this nature may be asked to submit additional materials in Spanish.

Other Requirements:

Willingness to get wet and muddy, have the physical stamina for fieldwork.

Enthusiasm for the projects and mission of the host organization.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3Global Program Fee: $3,450
  • Host Site Fee: $3,885
  • International Travel: $800-950
  • Visa Fees: $0*
  • Recommended Immunizations: $400**

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • Housing: Included in Host Site Fee
  • Food: Included in Host Site Fee
  • Local Transportation: $45 ($12.25/wk)
  • Recreation: $75 ($18.75/wk)
  • Personal Expenses: $45 ($11.25/wk)

Budgeting Note: Estimated costs are based on typical internship-related costs and a modest standard of living. Each intern’s costs will vary based on lifestyle choices (eating out vs. cooking, taking public transportation vs. taxis) and recreational spending (travelling on days off, hobbies, etc.).

Additional Expense Information

The Host Site Fee Includes:

  • Homestay
  • 3 meals per day in homestay
  • Laundry service
  • Work-related transport
  • Contribution to project and internship materials
  • Administrative costs
  • Local support

* No visa required for U.S. citizens

** Fees vary based on medical history and insurance coverage

Homestays are arranged by the host organization. Interns have their own room, and should expect to share a bathroom.

This organization has a robust cultural engagement program with host families, and their homestay coordinator checks in with students regularly during their stay.

Check out this clip about host families in Monteverde!

Check out pictures from this internship.


Fall | Winter | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

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

Basic Requirements

- See Qualifications/Requirements section