Written by Camrynne Karr (Arizona State University), Internship in Sustainability and the Environment.
Through CIEE I got connected with the internship in environmental education for the Monteverde Conservation League. Specifically, I worked with the Bajo del Tigre Reserve in updating old and creating new environmental educational activities for local and visiting children who come to this reserve. These activities are implemented in the Casita de los Niños (Children’s House), a center in this reserve specific for the children. The renovation of this center has been occurring for a couple of years now and I have been working with Carla Willoughby to bring everything together, including my own work as well as the work of previous students. The intent of this internship is not only to refurbish the Casita de los Niños, but also to promote Bajo del Tigre.
I am personally very interested in this internship because I really enjoy educating people about environmental topics and challenges, especially children. I believe that change starts from the bottom up, and it is important to teach children as early as possible. A main focus for me for this internship was to be able to work directly with children, as I really enjoy it. I connected with Claire Edgell, a first and second grade teacher from a local school, and I was able to invite her second-grade class to come try out the activities that I created.
Participating in this internship taught me a lot about the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, environmental education and the energy that goes into something like the Children’s House. As a part of my internship was to educate children about the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, I first had to learn about it myself in order to implement the important aspects into the activities. This was very interesting because I got to interact directly with an area of conservation and see exactly how it is used for tourism and education. I also learned about environmental education by seeing the previous intern’s activities on topics such as seed dispersal and organism relationships. This made me think outside of the box on what it was that I wanted to do for Bajo del Tigre and how to go about it. Lastly, I learned a lot about how much time, energy and dedication it takes to make these different activities, because I did not realize all the different factors involved in this process.
I feel that my greatest contribution to this internship was creating an interactive activity that gets kids excited to learn and use all their senses. I created a reusable scavenger hunt, in English and Spanish, that can be taken on the trail to find different things, such as a mammal, a bird call, something that smells good, etc. Not only are they actively engaged in their walk and surroundings, but now Bajo del Tigre is an option for other school groups to visit for field trips. The scavenger hunt is also available for other visitors as well. A family from Canada used it about two days after I finished it and their children really enjoyed it, and it was really exciting to hear that response from a visitor. It is very encouraging to know that my hard work is enhancing the experiences that visitors are having.