Overseas Volunteer Experience Stories

Emily Vandenberg

Emily Vandenberg

Hi, my name is Emily and I spent 2 months at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary as a wildlife husbandry intern. Being from a small town in southern Ontario, Canada, I was a little nervous about coming to Alturas. I have never been to Costa Rica before and speak very little Spanish, but all the staff were more than accommodating. Their warm and friendly personalities made me feel right at home. They were very welcoming and answered all of my questions with a big smile on their faces.

During my time here, I learned a lot about the amount effort, patience and dedication it takes to work at a sanctuary and rehabilitation center. The work is challenging but rewarding and the rewards far outweigh the effort. In addition to the routine animal care, I was able to set up camera traps in the nocturnal animal enclosures. These camera traps would video record the animal's movement in the enclosure and their behavior.

Waking up every day in the paradise that is Costa Rica with these amazing people and these beautiful animals always felt like a dream. Each morning, I would eagerly open my eyes and a rush of excitement would fill my mind!

I have always known that it was my destiny to work with animals. I have been gearing my career towards wildlife rehabilitation and this internship has helped me gain a lot of knowledge and practical work experience. I now know with certainty that I am heading in the right direction.

Thank you AWS for the honour of this wonderful experience with amazing people and animals in this beautiful place.

My Experience: Wildlife Husbandry Intern