Thank you to all the teams of volunteers in 2018 that came to help us in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. We are eternally grateful for all your hard labor on the homestead and in the forest! We salute you. Please keep coming back and forging strong relationships with this forest, and to keep the mission of sustainable forestry going.
For seven years now, March has been a time to welcome new groups and also those who have forged long-term relationships with our project. Since 2011, Appalachian State University students having been coming to offer their services in their Spring Break time.
Back Row, L-R: Prof. Shea Tuberty, Josi Carder, Brooke Henderson, Celeste Womack, Anthony Ajaero, Daniel Burwell, Cole Ronk. Front Row: Mackenzie Francisco, Hallie Langley, Jaycie Loud, Magha Garcia, 3t Vakil, Andrés Rúa.
This March 2017, group leaders were Jaycie Loud & Daniel Burwell, accompanied by seven of their adventurous peers, and one awesome chaperone, Professor of Biology, Shea Tuberty. From stacking wood in our drying shed, to re-organizing our workshop, to building a small forde on the river on the Ethnobotanical Trail, this team was a delight for the project, and all the tasks were accomplished every day, mostly through rain. Yara Soler gave an excellent Salsa Dance class, and Magha Garcia cooked up a storm in the kitchen, serving the most delicious vegetarian meals. Ricardo Valles helped Andrés Rúa with crew leadership. 3t was the random element. A great dinner at Habitarte, a community fortifying project run by Wanda Rodriguez and Ricardo Valles Perez, in the spectacular mountains of Guayama. What is so remarkable is how many things we all accomplished together. The images below tell that tale of life at Las Casas de la Selva, for a week.
Appalachian State University, Biola University, Penn State York University, (and in April, Cambridge Montessori) are the only groups that have come to Las Casas this year. Many of our other regular groups were concerned by the reports of the Zika virus on the island of Puerto Rico, and followed the best info they had for peace of mind, and made the decision not to travel to Puerto Rico.
Please be assured that Zika is NOT a life-threatening concern for us here on the island, and we feel that the concerns about the virus have been unjustly hyped.
App State Professor of Biology, Shea Tuberty: “ As a professor at Appalachian State University I understand our US colleagues’ interest in keeping our students safe during international travel. However, the Zika scare in Puerto Rico is entirely overplayed. We didn’t see a single mosquito while there this last week (March 12-18th, 2017). This is a wonderful project from A-Z focused on all things related to sustainability and deserves to continue on its long history of providing alternative spring break groups, researchers, and tourists a destination and opportunity for make a difference there. They are in serious need for help as they embark on their bridge project over a branch of Sonadora Creek to access the old coffee plantation section of the forest. Please consider reinstating your annual visits to Casas de la Selva soon.”
We welcome back next year all our friends from the various Universities and High Schools that could not come in 2017.♥
Come and experience the Alternative Service Experience! Email: 3t @ eyeontherainforest.org
From the Appalachian Website: “Consider an Alternative Service Experience and explore a variety of social issues while working with communities across the globe. Whether a domestic program on the gulf coast or an international program south of the equator, use your time during fall, winter, and spring break to create deeper connections between your classroom work and the communities of the world.”
Click here for a whole bunch of fun images, with an international body of students from Penn State, York, who came through Globalworks to spend a few days helping in a grand overhaul of our workshop and wood storage. All these great images are by Penn State York chaperone, Judith Owen, and Globalworks Team Leader, Ava Murphey. Thank you all for a really wonderful time.
Freddy Dempster (Chief Engineer of Biosphere 2) joined us at Las Casas de la Selva during this period as well and made an inspiring Biosphere 2 presentation. Thank you to Magha Garcia for the fine food, Andrés Rúa, Ricardo Valle, for crew leadership and to Alfredo Lopez for being the random element help.
This all-ladies team helped out with a whole host of tasks, including the on-going plastering of the new terrace wall, and workshop cleaning, clearing, and management. Along with a salsa dance class, they enjoyed the rivers in the forest of Las Casas de la Selva, and also took a paddle-boarding class at Inches Beach in Patillas, with Omar Garcia. Thank you ladies for all your enthusiastic teamwork, we enjoyed your company immensely.
Fountain Valley High School from Colorado Springs, in their second annual collaboration with Las Casas de la Selva. This team of enthusiastic teenagers worked on the ethnobotanical trail, helped grade the main drive, helped in the wood workshop, learnt how to use a lathe with Andres Rua, and turn wood, had a Puertorrican cooking class with Magha Garcia Medina, enjoyed a salsa dance class with Yara, and after an afternoon at the beach, Villa Pesqueras in Patillas, and a wonderful dinner at Habitarte, Route PR 15, with Wanda and Riccardo. It was a pleasure to get to know you all.
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 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!
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.
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 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!
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/
Pepperdine students helped in getting trees to the places in the forest where we are going to plant them…these are Styrax portoricensis saplings. This particular project is a collaboration with US Fish & Wildlife to establish the recovery of highly endangered endemic species. Thank you Pepperdine team for all your enthusiasm in trailwork and treework.