Current Opportunities

Volunteering and Apprenticeship opportunities at The Ara Project

The Ara Project’s breeding and release sites could not exist without the incredible help of our dedicated volunteers from across the globe. Working at The Ara Project gives future conservationists and conservation enthusiasts the opportunity to learn about and work closely with some incredibly beautiful and charismatic birds, meet people from all over the world and experience Costa Rican life and culture in a remote area. And, of course, they will be making a difference to the survival of two threatened species of Macaw.

Depending on the time of year, we have a variety of different positions available. Please check your availability below and read about and apply for each position in the column on the right.

Below you will find more information regarding our two different sites. Please read this and the “What you should know” page before applying.

The Islita Breeding and Release Center
(Punta Islita)

At the Islita Breeding Center, the climate is very hot year round and rainy from June to November. We have a maximum capacity of 7 volunteers. The volunteer house has two bedrooms with two beds and a shared bathroom, a kitchen and a social outdoor area. We also have private, sheltered tents for long term volunteers, which offer more privacy. As it is so remote, volunteers spend most of their social time together. This site is located on a 15 min walk from the beach, which is good for surfing and surrounded by beautiful dry tropical forests. Islita is the nearby village where volunteers can join the locals to play football, have a drink or meal out. As this village is very small, there is a weekly trip to Samara (40 min away) to do their food shopping.

Please understand that we are a Conservation Organization and not a rescue centre or pet project. Even though we keep birds in captivity we try to simulate their natural living situation as much as possible. Our captive macaws are breeding birds or future release birds. To be able to have optimal success for both purposes, we do not allow any physical, verbal or social contact when you work with them.

Work at this site includes:

  • Daily food preparation and feeding of captive breeding birds, pre-release birds and supplementary feeding of the released flock.
  • Regular site maintenance including aviary cleaning, providing perches and enrichment for captive birds and various other tasks.
  • Monitoring the health and behaviour of captive birds.
  • Data collection.
  • Different tasks may be assigned depending on our current needs and the skills and abilities of particular volunteers.

The Ara Project Volunteers Working at The Ara Project

The Manzanillo Reintroduction Site
(South Caribbean, Talamanca)

This site is also remote, located within the Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge. The wet and dry seasons in the South Caribbean region are not as defined as on the Pacific coast. The Manzanillo site is located in a humid tropical forest where temperature can go from cool nights (18°-20°C) to hot days (26° - 32°) with tropical thunder and rainstorms as well as dry spells during the same month.

Volunteers live in a cabin onsite at the release facility with 3 beds in 2 bedrooms, 1 shared bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen and an open porch living area. The volunteer cabin has bedding, fans and mosquito nets.

This Manzanillo site is located south of the town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in southern Limón province near Panama. This coastal area is one of the most attractive places in Costa Rica with beautiful beaches and lush coastal rainforests. You can Google - Puerto Viejo - Manzanillo in Talamanca, Limón, Costa Rica for more information. Getting to and from the station, includes a steep walk up a private road and one must take a bus or bike ride get to town.

Volunteers usually take the public bus for shopping, ATM and other services; there is also an organic farmers market Saturday mornings. To live and work at Manzanillo site, you should be comfortable to be on your own, and enjoy the beauty of Nature and spending evenings reading a book. We do have a cellular Wi-Fi service at the station that you can use for a couple of hours daily and there is also a Wi-Fi connection available at the local general store.

Volunteer work at the Manzanillo site includes:

  • Managing the released population of Great-green macaws.
  • Maintaining supplemental feeders located in surrounding forest.
  • Monitoring the released birds - Depending on the season this will include walking in the forest (evenings or early mornings) to monitor nest sites.
  • Fieldwork: depending on the season this will include going into the forest (at night or early in the morning) to monitor nest sites.
  • Collecting or foraging for natural foods – fruits, seeds and nuts.
  • General maintenance and cleaning of the field site.
  • Support of community education and outreach.
  • Assisting with tourism site visitation and promotion.

The Ara Project The Ara Project Volunteers