Working with people is about one of my favourite things to do and luckily for me, environmental education and citizen science are a very important component of my PhD! Every week at Lapa Rios Ecolodge we celebrate Wednesday Science, an opportunity for guests, staff members, and the local community to learn more about my project, the scientific method, the species of the Peninsula, their ecology and threats, but above else to think about conservation and the implications that an individual can have for conservation.
So What Happen on Wednesdays? In the morning, I work with the local school founded by Lapa Rios and a very important institution here in Matapalo. The idea is not only to learn, is to have a direct impact on my project contributing with the knowledge of the Osa, hands on work, just how I like it! Building rain proof covers made of recycled plastic to protect the camera traps or designing and creating the butterfly traps that I will be using in the dry season are some of the workshops prepared for this summer. Children are indeed the future and Carbon era represent all sectors of the Costa Rican society, Ticos, expats, and indigenous children united in this wonderful school in the middle of the rain forest. The perfect setting if you ask me!
During the afternoon, Lapa Rios guests are invited to learn and collaborate with the camera trap program and data management. After a brief training where guest learn to identify and recognise most of the terrestrial species recorded on camera, they help generating data from the pictures: date, time, trail, specie´s name and number or gender are some of the information we use to develop the Lapa Rios database. This time is also used to talk to staff members and get them involved in the project and enhance their knowledge on the species of the Osa Peninsula. These guys are always available, each break from work is a good excuse for them to help and learning about sound scaping one of their favourite things to do!
In the evening, Lapa Rios guest and guides join with bat point counts around the Ecolodge as part of their night walk, one of the most liked and enjoyed tours in Lapa Rios. Unfortunately, these are easier said than done, stormy nights and limitations with H&S and the equipment have resulted in only a few of these surveys to be completed. In spite of those limitations, the Echo Bat Meter from Wildlife Acoustics makes the delights of all guest discovering the different bat species and learning about bat calls and echolocation.
In addition to Wednesday Science, every Sunday evening I present the scientific research happening right here in Lapa Rios Natural Preserve and weekly updates from all sides of this holistic approach where forest, animals and humans are linked using cutting edge technology!!