I've worked with and for EPI for many years and couldn't be more impressed by the work they do and their dedication to getting students from around the world involved in conservation. Great work all around.
EPI connects students with scientists and the natural world, inspiring them and giving them the tools to take care of the earth. I have walked in the dark (no flashlights) alonga Carbbean beach monitoring leatherback sea turtles as they emerge from the water to lay their eggs... and I have seen the transformation in the young people I was with, as they took data... counting eggs, measuring the turtle, and learning about this animal and its threatened existence. EPI's experiences leave a profound impact. These students go home motivated to talk to others about not eating turtle eggs, and about preventing plastics and pesticides from polluting the ocean. And they go home with a better understanding of how science works, ready to learn more.
I have lived in Costa Rica for most of the last 30 years. I have watched the degradation of the biodiversity and natural environment here, including the forests and the oceans, as the country becomes increasingly
As a biologist and a high school teacher I have found that Ecology Project International (EPI) complement much of what I teach inside the classroom. The trips I have organized with them have helped me provide my students with experiences and expose them to activities that are almost impossible to do during a normal academic year. Their curriculum is intensive, well designed and balanced between field work and class time. Their locations offer access to (natural) resources ideal for science oriented and conservation activities. The professionalism of the instructors cannot be questioned.
I loved the Galapagos trip I took back in March and April. I worked hard and had a blast meeting new people and learning about everything. It was worth all the hard work to come up with the money and I would trad a lot just to go again. When I was on the Islands I was able to work with little 3 month old turtles and stomp through the forests to measure and take data. The plant species and counting was something I have never done and it was different to see and learn how people have to find and record their data. When we went to see the turtles we were able to go into the baby turtle hatury areas with the 3 month old turtles. Our group had to weigh, measure and record our data for the place. Once all the hard work was done we got to hang out with students at the BEACH!! It was warm, fun and hard to communicate sometimes because I don't know much spanish but we found other ways to communicate. Everyone is so nice and the animals don't run away like they do in my town. I could go on forever but I recomend that anyone who doesn't grab on to this opertunity is going to regret it forever! This was an expirience I will never forget!
With Ecology Project International, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be hands on involved in marine biology. I spent five days living on a boat with four marine biologists, studding whales in the Baja Gulf of California. A typical day consisted of waking up on a beautiful beach, eating breakfast and working on research projects, observing the ocean for signs of whales, seeing a whale, chasing a whale, getting a biopsy of the whale, dissecting the biopsy, eating yummy lunch, continuing research projects, seeing another whale, getting another biopsy, set up tents at another amazing beach, eat dinner back at the boat, present the daily research projects, and fall asleep under the stars. EPI made this whole opportunity possible. I will never forget the amazing things I saw, the wonderful people I met, or the vast amounts of knowledge I learned. I’m still in total awe at what I witnessed and the entire experience feels like a dream! I mean, since when can you be ten feet from the largest animals to ever live on this planet? Or how is it possible to swim with 300 wild dolphins in the morning and that afternoon have a wild sea lion touch your leg while swimming with them? As I said, I still am in shocked that I experienced that! The lesson I learned that will stick with me forever is, that there is so much more to our world than just what is on the surface.
I traveled with a group of my Spanish students, all aged 13, on an EPI trip to La Paz and Espiritu Santo Island. We were thrilled with the success of the trip. Although it was a pilot course for middle school cultural interaction combined with science and ecology, we felt as if the instructors had been doing this sort of trip all along. They were helpful, responsive, caring, knowledgeable and fun. There were a couple of times when an activity might have gone on too long, or the students may not have been clear on what was expected of them, but I would be hard-pressed to find any such experience that is perfect. Specifically, during Each One, Teach One, some students read directly from the informational cards with which they were provided, rather than preparing a synopsis with a quick interactive presentation. This was not due to the instructor's lack of direction; on the contrary, he was very clear about not reading straight from the card and about involving the other students by asking questions. The only way to fix this would be maybe to have an adult with each group or to give the students a template for their mini-presentation. The only thing that was stressful throughout the entire trip was air travel. I know that EPI doesn't have control over that, so I was prepared to deal with it. I would try to avoid tight connections, since our group missed our final flight home due to a flight delay.
I participated in the Costa Rica turtle conservation program, and I can easly say it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I made life-long friends with my crewmates and with the research assistants, and I will never forget sitting behind a turtle's cloaca, colecting her eggs. I was also able to obtain a partial scholarship to go on the trip.
I went on the EPI trip to Costa Rica to help save and preserve the Leatherback sea turtle population. It was truely an experience of a life time. To be able to touch the gentle, prehistoric, giant turtles was crazy! With that in mind this trip was no vacation. Everyone worked hard walking for 4 or more hours during the night paroling the beaches. I would say that if anyone is going to go on this trip they should be a person who loves animals and wants to help them. If this description doesn't fit you, I don't think you will fully enjoy the experience. I loved this trip so much that I have signed up for another trip this summer in Yellow Stone National Park. I fully look forward to the people I'll meet and the animals I'll see.
I went to Costa Rica with EPI through my high school and the experience changed my life. It gave me the opportunity to do hands-on research of the leatherback sea turtles when I was only 14. It increased my awareness of environmental issues and it sparked my passion for wildlife biology and environmental science.
Going to Costa Rica in high school with Ecology Project International was my first trip out of the States and what a trip it was! Our leader from our local area and the teachers and guides we met in Costa Rica were beyond wonderful. They were so knowledgeable and trust-worthy which is exactly what you need when you're taking teenagers out of their home country. The work was challenging - both physically and emotionally - and the whole experience was so eye-opening. My desire to learn more about environmental problems was heightened and the realization that even at 16 years old I could make a difference changed my entire way of thinking. I highly recommend EPI trips for young adults and hope someday to go again.
During my trip with EPI, I discovered the beauties of a culture completely different than the one I know in America. In Mexico, everything has a twice-used feeling, and though this may be in part due to Mexico's lack of money, it is interesting how people can get along with so much less than we do in America, and still support a vibrant culture. At the camp where we did whale research, I learned that using renewable energy is really more of a problem if you can't make the change in your head, because once the changes tangibly manifest themselves, using a composting toilet or re-using your water doesn't seem hard at all. I learned that all people are excited to share their culture, that even whale researchers who spend months whatching whales are excited when calves come up close, and that speaking Spanish is something I wish I could do.
My experience begins with the enthusiasm to participate in a Wilderness First Aide class. When researching such class, I found the EPI website and remembered visiting the campus briefly in Mexico. The website posted positions open for feild instructors in Mexico and I applied. I did not get the job, but was excited to be a part of the Wilderness First Aide class in January that terminated before it started as it was canceled due to a lack of participants. I know that EPI is not at fault for this. With a degree in Physics and Math, a life of outdoor experience in the Inland Northwest and a history of living in La Paz, Mexico, I decided that I would like to become involved with EPI and thus, traveled to La Paz despite the cancelled class. Upon arriving, I talked with the employees of EPI La Paz and even enjoyed a tour of the campus. After a nice conversation with those who were working on campus, I offered my services, as a volunteer, to write curriculum for advanced students and any other bits and pieces that might need doing. I was encouraged to keep in touch and made plans to receive data and general information about the specific ecology programs of the island and whales so that I may write the said curriculum for these programs. Although I was told several times over the next few weeks that someone would be contacting me and that my services would be appreciated, I got the same lip service every week or so . . . Thank you for your patience, we are quite busy with opening the season I will be in touch next week about how you may be able to help us . . . After a month or so of this type of communication and my responses of the sort . . . just let me know what I can do, I am anxious to start writing curriculum and anything else that you may need. . . I felt that maybe my opportunity to volunteer and help EPI was passing. There was still hope, though. EPI has an internship position in La Paz which started in March, so in February, I organized my information and sent it in hopes that I may have been able to earn the position and still be a part of EPI. A week passed with no word, the training date for the position was quickly approaching and so was my sister's wedding. Although I had planned to miss my sister's wedding if I were accepted by EPI to work, I was getting worried that they had not yet contacted me. As the days passed and I heard nothing from them, I bought my tickets to my sister's wedding. The very next day, I received an email from EPI. My heart pounding and mind swirling over what I might do now that I had plans to leave were settled when I read the email which stated "Your application for recruitment coordinator is complete, you should hear from us the end of next week" Recruitment coordinator? I asked myself. I applied for a feild internship in Mexico, not a recruitment coordinator position in Montana. I sent a quick email asking about what may have happened, then another within a day as I had decided that maybe moving back to Montana would not be a bad situation. Oddly, I did not get a response to either of my emails, nor did I hear back from them at the end of the next week. Sadly, I am not impressed at all with this organization. It appears to me that they are not the real thing. Either very unorganized, or just playing it by ear, or simply using ecology funds to do whatever sounds best at the time, I am not sure. I can only say that I began with great hopes and a high regard for this program and have since been involved in a string of incidences that leave me to think that EPI could do a much better job.
I am a high school teacher and I chaperone groups of students on EPI's wonderful programs annually. I have taken trips to Costa Rica where we worked hands on with the endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles. We patrolled the nesting beaches at night and when a Leatherback came up to nest, we would collect various data and also ensure her nest was located in a good location. During the day, we hiked and witnessed first hand our lessons of biology, ecology and conservation. On a trip to Baja, we witnessed daily Blue and Bryde's whales. The students collaborated with the scientists to locate a whale and then successfully obtain a biopsy of the blubber and skin. All students have become super charged on these trips to persue a degree and a career in the science field. Also, many have come home to make drastic changes within their own lives and community. It is been really rewarding as a teacher to witness this change in a student. It is an impact only trips like the ones EPI offers can initiate.