The Crees Foundation

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I undertook a six month internship with the crees foundation at their research centre – the Manu Learning Centre – in the Peruvian Amazon. I had an amazing time and learnt so much. All volunteers and Interns receive a week of training at the start of their placement including a day of emergency first aid. As an intern I had a 10 week volunteer phase, a two week break in cusco including a week of Spanish school and Spanish homestay, and one free week to travel, and a 12 week work placement phase. As a volunteer you get experience of all the conservation research projects at the MLC – including monitoring endangered blue headed macaws, camera traps, butterfly traps, early morning bird and mammal transects, mistnetting, pitfall traps and nocturnal surveys of amphibians and reptiles. Volunteers also go to the nearest small town – Salvacion - to participate in community projects such as agroforestry and biogardening. It is hardwork and not without its challenges, but its very rewarding. At the end of each month the volunteers go on a 4 day expedition for a well deserved break. The expeditions are great and involve visiting indigenous communities, and other fun activities such as swimming in a natural hotspring, white water rafting and trips to waterfalls.
As an intern during my volunteer phase I had weekly meetings with a mentor, where i was given feedback on my progress and also given weekly objectives (tasks and goals to achieve such as learning specific Spanish vocabulary or species names, interacting with Peruvian staff or being given specific responsibilities). This is really helpful as it helps you to evaluate your progress, learn knew skills and knowledge and identify things you need to work on. The staff ensure that you are prepared for your work placement and have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. The two week break in cusco allows you time to rest and relax (or travel and see the sites) before starting the work placement and the week of Spanish school and homestay helps improve your Spanish and immerse you in peruvian culture.
The 12 week work placement went so fast. You are kept busy leading specific projects that are assigned to you but also working on other projects as well. By the end of the six months you are effectively an expert in your field – whether its frogs, snakes, butterflies or birds! Personally I fell in love with frogs and snakes, and could identify almost all the frog species in the reserve by the end of the six months. Highlights of my time with crees include camping in primary rainforest, climbing up a 30m tree, catching a rainbow boa and watching tadpoles develop into beautiful frogs.
Overall I had an amazing experience and made friends for life. The community at the MLC is friendly and welcoming and its more like a home than a workplace. My time in the Peruvian rainforest totally transformed my view of the world. I learnt so much about the rainforest and conservation research.
Whether you are 18 or 40, speak fluent Spanish or are a complete beginner, have a scientific background or not, you will have a great time. It is great experience for anyone wanting to gain knowledge or skills before starting a degree or career in conservation or ecology. It is an equally amazing experience if you just want to do something worthwhile on a gap year, career break or holiday and help sustain the amazon rainforest.

Posted: November 21, 2013
By: Liv89