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TortugaVol

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WIDECAST: Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network, Inc.
January 16, 2013

I was a volunteer for Widecast for three weeks in September 2012. The work the organization does is incredibly useful for the preservation of the sea turtle population in that area of Costa Rica. In the time I was there, at least four grown turtles were saved from poachers, roughly 10 nests hatched and the baby turtles were protected on their way to the ocean, and the hatchery was guarded 24/7.

That said, the work is not easy, can often be tedious, and the management present could use some... reworking. Your sleep schedule gets very off, as you work for 4-6 hours each night, with shifts beginning at 8pm, 10pm, 12am, or 2am. During the day you have a hatchery shift for 2 hours, with the rest of the day to yourself. The time during the day can pass quite slowly (especially if there are relatively few other volunteers there at the time), but the location is gorgeous and on a completely isolated strip of beach (only populated by a few locals and a handful of drug dealers/poachers). The night hikes are physically brutal, and can be quite frustrating if either a) you find no turtles, or b) you spot a turtle that poachers have already claimed (there is a "no confrontational" policy). And in terms of how the project is run... it's honestly hard to say who's in charge. The research assistants (long-term volunteers) basically ran the project, yet they had received little to no training, and were often left without support from the people "in charge," (who were rarely present). There was a lot of griping about management.

Note on meals: The food is not disgusting, yet the meals are very repetitive, food is only available at meal times, and the lack of fresh fruits and veggies is disturbing. (If you love fruit like I do, I recommend asking locals to knock you down coconuts or pippas from the trees.)

The project's mission and work is worthwhile, and the experience is quite enjoyable thanks to the other people (volunteers and locals who help out) that are present. But I feel like, until the project comes under new guidance, a short-term volunteer project is best here. Your body will thank you, too.

More feedback

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Unlikely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Unsure

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

MY ROLE:
Volunteer