Being a SFS intern is not your average job. Here at the SFS Costa Rica Center in Atenas, every single day is different. If I’m not in my office analyzing our energy and waste consumption data for our Rainforest Alliance certification, I’m on the farm with the student chore group collecting oranges to make fresh juice for breakfast or in the greenhouses watering and weeding our student beds. Most days, you’ll find me with the rest of the group — out in the field making observations in national parks or ecological reserves, and coming up with our own questions for why nature does what it does.
The first week of Summer 2 was a busy one! During the first few days, students were introduced to our Center and the town of Atenas; they created and signed off on their sustainability contract (a document that states how they’ll personally lower their environmental impact while on campus); and they had their first classes on ecological diversity, and the socioeconomic situation and conservation systems of Costa Rica.
Our first field trip took us to Poco Sol, where students designed their own ecological research projects and witnessed, first-hand, the lush rainforests Costa Rica is known for. Students also participated in their first outreach project. Half of our students accompanied Natural Resource Management professor Achim Häger to a nearby forest to plant Guanacaste and other native trees, while the rest stayed in our barrio of La Presa to help community members pick up trash along the main street.
Tomorrow we set aside our shorts and sandals for sweaters and scarves, as we’ll be making a trek up to Cerro de la Muerte — one of the highest and coldest spots in Costa Rica. There, students will be working on a field exercise mapping different trails with GPS. What I love most about SFS programs is how you get to experience so many different sides of a country by going on field trips and exploring on free days, something I also appreciated when I studied abroad with SFS Tanzania during Summer 1 in 2012. I’ve been in Costa Rica for over 6 months now, and have seen so many different places, but every day still surprises me. I hope it stays that way until the end of my internship in December, but I don’t want to think about that quite yet!