Volunteer Groups

Appalachian State University ASB March 2015

In their third year of collaboration with Las Casas de la Selva, this App State Team worked hard on maintenance of the main drive, our life-line to the outside. In amongst all this manual labor we ate well, thanks to Magha Garcia Medina, and also visited the Habitarte Project on Route PR 15. Thanks to Wanda and Riccardo for hosting us for an evening. We also took the team to swim and kayak off the spectacular Villa Pesquera, Patillas Beach. Several of the team were lucky to swim with three manatees that frequent this zone. Thank you App State…hope we see you back next year!

Pepperdine University – Getting down and dirty! March 2015

Pepperdine University students spent seven days at Las Casas de la Selva, helping with various tasks led by Andrés Rúa, ranging from plastering the new retaining wall and walls on the main house, as well as work on the ethnobotanical trail, step-building, pruning, and prepping surfaces for more work. This team were lucky to have a cooking class with renowned gourmet chef Magha Garcia Medina, and a rocking Salsa Dance Class with Yara Soler Garcia.

We had a superb time with this team, and we thank you all for all the joy and enthusiasm that you brought to the project. Please revisit in the future! Thanks also to William Robinson who has been volunteering here for one month.

On the second day of the group’s visit, Simarouba, our beautiful white cat gave birth to 5 kittens. Magha Garcia Medina takes the students on an exploration of the foods of Puerto Rico, and we end up with a Sancocho for dinner. If you have never had Sancocho, here’s the place to come and try it!

Earthwatch Team: December 2014 -January 2015

Back L-R: Stan Rullman Cindy Stieger, Margaret Baisley, PI Norman Greenhawk
Front L-R: PI 3t Vakil, Charlotte Field, Colleen Casey, Andrés Rúa
All pix on this page thanks to all above.

See Stan’s Blog about this trip!
https://earthwatchunlocked.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/from-trees-to-coquis-an-earthwatch-scientist-explores-puerto-ricos-rainforest/ 2015

Earthwatch Expeditions – We salute you all! July 2014

Thank you to all the Earthwatchers who fielded in our summer season. Through rain, mud, and slippery slopes, everyone made it over established comfort levels and discovered themselves anew at the end of each expedition. We are happy to have had Marta Edgar here as PI on the ongoing Bird Survey, and she worked with the first team. 3t continued on with tree data collection on the Liberation thinning study and also gathered, with team 2g, a complete monitoring of the endangered endemic tree species planted last year in a collaborative project with US Fish & Wildlife. Norman is carrying out a one month Herpetological survey in Icaco and Hormiga Valley and the teenagers on Team 3 along with their Earthwatch Facilitator, got to camp for 6 days and work on this study.

We really appreciate the level of enthusiasm brought to our project by volunteers, because without you, data would be hard to collect. We salute you all.

Globalworks at Las Casas de la Selva July 2014

Thank you Globalworks, we appreciate all your hard work on the forest road, pruning, and working on drainage ditches. The help in the gardens was also great, clearing vines and digging the soil to loosen it all up.

For 23 years, Global Works has been providing exceptional Community Service, Cultural Exchange, Adventure Travel, and Language Immersion programs for teens, which foster personal growth and promote social and cultural awareness for the participant and the communities involved.

Fountain Valley High School, March 15-19, 2014

A team of Fountain Valley High School students from Colorado Springs, CO, spent five days with us. Led by Andrés and 3t, the students completely emptied out the entire woodworking and machine shop, cleaned and organized all the tools, cleaned machines, took out all the wood stockand re-organized it, and left the workshop clean, organized and far more user-friendly! Students also worked in the nurseries and trails with Norman. Thank you to Deb Prantl and Vydia Garcia for tremendous team leadership, and a super big thanks to all the students who carried out such an incredible task. We really appreciated your help, and also the constant smiles and endless enthusiasm.

Please come back in the future!

Appalachian State University March 9-15, 2014

Appalachian State University students worked really hard on a diversity of projects at Las Casas de la Selva; plastering the bunkhouse, making a ramp for access to the dining room, pruning, gardening, nursery work, moving soil, making a new compost, emptying the humanure compost ready for use, and many other tasks. Wow! We thank you all for being such wonderful company this last week. We’ll see you again!

Vanderbilt University March 1-8, 2014

Vanderbilt University students have just spent several days with us at Las Casas de la Selva, and we have had a super time, working hard! Students learnt the art of plastering on the bunkhouse, led by Andres, and also helped with heavy labor and soil renewal on the Papaya Terraces with 3t. In their time here, they also got to do a leaf litter study with Norman and hiked into the forest. Thank you for your remarkable teamwork, and thanks Zach and Julia, team leaders who did a great job. We salute you all! Come back and see us again soon.

Vella Lovell, a student at The Julliard School of Dance, Drama and Music, NY, volunteered at Las Casas de la Selva for the days that Vanderbilt University students were here. Thanks for all your hard work and enthusiasm lovely lady!

Pepperdine University Feb 22-28, 2014

This was our third year hosting a team from Pepperdine University at Las Casas de la Selva. Norman Greenhawk, as crew leader worked with the students on the main hill-trail and everyone worked super hard to build steps, and to make the walk up and down the hill much safer and more comfortable. Hauling rocks and gravel from the river and carrying then up hill was hard work, and it was extremely satisfying to us to see a group getting on so well with the task at hand. The materials used were recycled from all over the homestead and the wood was from the old drying shed that Pepperdine students helped us to deconstruct in 2013. The work was muddy, and in rainy conditions for a few days, but sunshine prevailed and we all had a superb time with this great bunch! Pepperdiners, we salute you all. Please stay in touch.

Pix below by: 3t, Katrina Kirsch, Evelyn Aleman, Anushree Mahajan.

Fryeburg Academy February 12-20, 2014

3t, Andrés, Norman and Magha appreciate the work and great company of Fryeburg students, February 2014

This wonderful team from Fryeburg Academy, worked with Andres and 3t to build the new nursery for the endangered endemic tree planting program. We have had a super time and we thank you all for help in clearing, pruning, tidying, and generally being a great clean-up crew on the homestead too! And in rainy conditions! The team also spent time with Norman on trail work, and carried out a frog study on a night-hike.

Thanks to Chris and Emily for bringing such a great team our way this year. We look forward to seeing Daniel at age three next year!

This program has been formulated to protect endangered flora and fauna by planting endangered endemic tree species, and working on habitat enhancement in subtropical wet forest. The location and the quality of the habitat of the 930-acre forest property of Las Casas de la Selva is ideal for the establishment of projects toward the recovery of various endangered endemic tree species. The property’s north-eastern border adjoins the Carite State Forest which contains another 6,660 acres of subtropical wet mountain forest land.

Tropic Ventures Research & Education Foundation are collaborating with US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to develop habitat enhancement and restoration projects that benefit endangered endemic species of Puerto Rico

See images of this area being cleared by the last team from Vanderbilt University in December 2013.

Earthwatchers at Las Casas

Planting endangered endemicsWe have an enthusiastic team of Earthwatchers here till the 6th January 2014. Continuing our collaborative project with Fish & Wildlife, we planted critically endangered endemic tree saplings, Styrax portoricensis and Cornutia obovata. To date 116 Styrax and 21 Cornutia have been planted in our spectacular secondary forest here in the Mira Flores mountain, better known as Las Casas de la Selva.

Creating a new space

Vanderbilt Alternative Winter Break.

These students worked with Andrés and 3t on the reparation of a broken fence and gate and also completely pruned back an overgrown area that will house the new tree nursery. The weather was rainy for most of the time, so kudos to the team for staying on task and getting the work done. Norman Greenhawk and Magha Garcia Medina provided delicious food for the group, and they also got a night hike led by Norman. Thanks everyone for a week of super work. Now a few days of a Christmas break before we get ready for our next Earthwatch team arriving on the 28th December.

Thank You Vanderbilt Winter Breakers! We appreciate your time and effort in helping us with our goals.

Why volunteer here?

Why volunteer at Las Casas de la Selva? See this 3 minute video by Ben Zenner.

This 3 min video was produced by Ben Zenner, a volunteer of Las Casas de la Selva in April of 2013. Ben is a videographer and graphic designer, and is in the process of developing a non profit design firm to help organizations with their online media presence and funding efforts, and to connect students and individuals with potential volunteer opportunities. For more information about Ben and his project called Volunteer Dream, check out his website: www.benzenner.com/

Thank you Ben!