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Volunteering

Thank you for your interest in our volunteer program. Volunteers with Biology and Ecology background and those working on Research Projects are highly encouraged to join us. Itapoa has had volunteers. undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world learning and contributing their energy to Rainforest conservation and recuperation.

Your experience at Itapoa will be one you will never forget. It is one of the top hotspots noted for it's biodiversity and one of the 50 for bird life. You will have the opportunity to learn about destruction of the rainforest and work in tandem with other volunteers to reverse the ravage on the ecosystem by reintroducing native plants to once clear cut areas while making detailed surveys of the animal and plant life of the area. You will experience wildlife in it's natural habitat and learn about it's delicate existence in a jungle constantly threatened by logging and bio fuel plantations. It's not often that one gets to say they actually had a lasting positive impact on the earth we live on. We are looking forward to having you make that impact and join us.

Directing Field Biologist Raul Nieto also speaks English, Portuguese, and Italian as well as Spanish. There are also interns from other countries so there are virtually no language barriers to volunteering at Itapoa. Neither a degree or education in Ecology or Biology is necessary, only your interest. Whatever you will need to learn, you will learn in the jungle, as we believe experiencing right in the field is best.

Itapoa Reserve is made up of two areas. There is a 300 hectare (700 acre) deep primary forest in the Canande area and a smaller reserve of around 12 hectares ( +/- 30acres) of tropical rain forest in Puerto Quito that contains part primary forest, secondary forest, tropical crops, and a botanical garden. In Puerto Quito we have a house electricity, running water, shower, kitchen, and refrigerator, but no phone. The nearest town is 2 Km. away (5 min by car or a 20 min. walk) and it has all the basic services, such as, phones, internet, doctors, pharmacies, and markets with all kinds of fresh food. The largest town where you could find a bank is 45 min. away by bus, and the closest major city is Santo Domingo one hour and a half away. It is, also, 4 hours away from the capital Quito. As you can imagine, being in a tropical area you can expect insects together with all the other unique biodiversity.

About the program:

The duties in the reserve include the daily checking and maintenance of fences, gardening, clearing of weeds, planting, pruning, keeping the nursery, and the tracking of mammals and birds while keeping a record of encounters with them, their foot prints or other signs. We are building an inventory of every living organism in the 2 areas. With the help of the volunteers we reintroduce as many native trees as possible around Puerto Quito. We also help our neighbors reintroduce native plants in their land to form biological corridors and new patches of forest where once were clear cut years ago. Volunteers are also required to help in the maintenance of the house and with visitors whenever we have them.

We also collect seeds for our program. We germinate them, then put them in bags until they are ready to be transplanted in the field. Later we take the plants to the areas to be planted and take care of them until they are big enough to survive by themselves. The collection of seeds is done both in our forest in Puerto Quito or deep in the jungle where we have the 300 hectares of primary forest in the Canande range. We hike to this deep jungle once a month to collect the seeds, get information about the biodiversity and give maintenance to the jungle shack that we use as shelter.

Volunteers are only charged a $25 to $30 fee which they pay weekly for gas, electricity and other expenses in the house of Puerto Quito. They are also responsible to buy their own food and can cook by themselves or together with the other volunteers. There is always fresh fruit from the gardens and coffee and chocolate for the volunteers. For the jungle trips there is a fee of $160 dollars for 3 or 4 days in the jungle that helps pay for the food, transportation, horses, etc...

The amount of time you dedicate to volunteering is not important though it must be a two week minimum to show commitment. Of course we love continuity, but if you have to leave earlier, we understand. Remember, you do not need to be trained to show your love for nature. It is only important to get involved and love it.

Cost is $25 a week with a minimum stay period of two weeks.

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