On the Expedition
You can help protect rainforest biodiversity and find ways for local communities to us the forest sustainably.
Earthwatch volunteers will be trained in a variety of tasks, which may include planting and measuring trees, counting lizards or frogs, helping to tag and identify vine species, and helping to set up new experimental plots for planting different tree and shrub species. All the while you'll be hiking through beautiful, tropical rainforest areas, sometimes climbing up steep hillsides, and sometimes following fast flowing rivers. You will also have the chance to join a night expedition into the forest to help count coqui frogs. During your organized recreational time you will be able to enjoy hikes (if you still have the energy), take dips in nearby rivers (with demonstrated swimming ability and under the supervision of lifesaving-trained staff), take part in some forest related craft activities, use the project library to learn more about the ecology of the area, or just relax and enjoy an area of rainforest land that very few other people have had a chance to visit. There will also be an opportunity to take a salsa dancing class and to experience the local culture and cuisine.
Earthwatch Team Facilitator
An Earthwatch Teen Team Facilitator will join your team to provide additional guidance, supervision, and activity organization for the expedition. Your facilitator will be there to help from the time you meet at the team rendezvous to the end of the expedition. He or she will encourage team spirit by planning events such as team building exercises, presentations, and recreational and cultural activities. If you have any questions or problems during your expedition, such as issues with another student volunteer, homesickness, or an emergency back at home, you should feel comfortable talking to your facilitator. You should also follow the advice and expectations set by your facilitator regarding safety and personal conduct. All Teen Team Facilitators have experience teaching and leading groups of teenagers and are familiar with the team dynamics necessary to make each expedition a success. Remember, your facilitator is there for you!
Meals and Accommodations
You will stay in single-sex tents on large, covered platforms with comfortable air or foam mattresses near the main house of the research area. A newly constructed bathing block has hot and cold showers and flush toilets. There is electricity, but power outages are common, so expect some candlelight meals. The project staff are accomplished cooks, and you will enjoy an array of Caribbean-style meals. Volunteers take turns acting as “assistant chefs” and doing some after dinner cleanup.
About the Research Area
The island of Puerto Rico, with an area of approximately 3,435 square miles, is the smallest of the four islands that compose the Greater Antilles, as well as the most easterly. The Las Casas de la Selva forest, where the project will take place, is located about one hour by car from the San Juan International Airport and within easy reach of major commercial centers and beaches. The forest’s elevation of 600 meters (1,800 feet) provides year round temperatures averaging 73ºF (23ºC). The plantation area ranges from very narrow ridge tops, down generally convex upper slopes and concave mid and lower slopes, to fast running perennial streams.
The research area consists of several buildings, an open-walled dining area, and roofed tent platforms. At night, you will be serenaded by the tiny coqui frog - and one night you may do a frog survey.
Evenings often feature entertainment - music, learning to salsa dance, or taking an organized visit one of the small towns nearby. On your supervised recreational day, your group may go to the beach (swimming is allowed under the supervision of lifesaving-trained staff if you demonstrate your ability to swim), to Old San Juan, or to several other attractions.