Tag: volunteer group

Pepperdine University at Las Casas de la Selva

Pepperdine University students spent 8 days with us in February, and for several days we cleared the homestead of vines, worked on trails, and created new nursery areas. Alex Johnson was the team leader, and Alex has already volunteered twice before at the project. Thank you team, we really value our collaboration with Pepperdine. Maria Cristina, from Cayey, cooked wholesome and hearty meals, and Ana Pagan from Patillas, held a wonderful salsa dance class.

We were joined for the final days of this team by Professor of Architecture, Seth Wachtel, who was planning a trip for students from the University of San Francisco in May 2020.

As February drew to a close, there were whispers of a virus spreading rapidly over the globe. On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. On March 15 a severe lockdown was ordered by the Governor of Puerto Rico, as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), became a household name! The January 2020 earthquakes had already caused the cancellation of several of our regular university teams for 2020, but with the lockdowns, all our teams cancelled; our brief time with the Pepperdine students was so valuable.

2019 Americorps Groups at Las Casas de la Selva

Thank you to Americorps for sending volunteer groups to help us with tasks. Mostly we were working on the forest roads and trails, but also on some construction and a workshop clear-out. We really appreciate these teams and thank each of you who were part of the 2019 teams!

2019 Volunteer Groups

A huge thank you to all our 2019 volunteer groups! We could not have done it without you!

Thank you everyone! Have a great start to 2020!

Thank you to all our 2019 volunteers!!

To all our 2019 volunteers. It takes a lot to keep a project alive. We salute you for all your help. Thank you!!
All volunteers worked on a variety of tasks including grass-cutting, ditch digging and erosion control all over the homestead, main-drive roadwork, forest roads & trails; pruning back the overgrowth; maintenance of the wastewater garden; compost piles; clearing out the workshop; homestead maintenance; nursery establishment, concretework, & tree-planting.

David Henebry, architect working in PR for a year, came to Las Casas de la Selva, for a day, volunteering on a garden digging project with an AmeriCorps youth team. From there, David went on to completely fund, and re-build several critical areas of the homestead facility, coming in on Sundays. In between digging holes, carrying tree saplings, planting, and digging, David also completely rebuilt the roof of El Teatro, and installed half of a new floor. He repaired a broken roof on a casita, made a new cement floor for outside the Casablanca bathroom, and built a hurricane-proof lean-to next to the workshop, for the new, improved tree nursery. We are very, very grateful. 3t lost nearly 1,500 tree seedlings and saplings in the hurricane, a devastating loss of many years’ work, so the energy into a new nursery this year was a great healing of 2019.

Chris Miller, spent three months living at Las Casas de la Selva, and he worked closely with David on all the tasks, as well has putting in heroic efforts to keep the grass cut on the homestead, which had become a huge task after the hurricane with the homestead becoming a sunny location after being a shady grove for many years as the trees grew. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us here this year: Chris Miller, David Henebry, Sarah Dean, Alex Johnson, Dayne Taylor, George Locascio & Miho Connelly, Anna & Fred, Anna & Joy Brown, Bill Davidowski, Bruce Mobley, David Anderson, Daniel Mobley, Tial Neal, Yogani Govender and friends, Gordon Weber, Noel Moore, Clara King, Katie Tsui, Robert Lane, Harry Zubik, Jess Tabac, Shari Dee, Sönke Scheel (Muller), and Elizabeth Whitehouse.

We could not have done it without you all. We appreciate your love and support very much! Thanks also to James Beezley for a generous donation in 2019. Blessings to all as we move into the New Year 2020. Please keep in touch and drop us a note!

2018 Volunteers: Thank You!

Thrity and Andrés extend a huge, huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers who have come to Las Casas de la Selva in 2018, and given love, labor, (mental, emotional, & physical support) to us and the project after the Hurricanes (Irma and Maria) that dealt us a devastating setback in 2017. We salute you all, please stay in touch and come back again. This sustainable forestry project only exists because people want it to.

Very, very special thanks to architect David Henebry, who personally funded and worked on several reconstruction projects at the end of 2018 and into 2019. These included: A casita roof mended; a new roof on el teatro; the lean-to structure that the new tree nursery will inhabit when finished; a cement porch floor. Trees were also planted, amongst many other tasks! Thank you so much David for all your love and support of this project. Thanks also to friends Robert Lane, Lance Strawn, & Harry Zubik who contributed funds and labor.

Special Volunteer: To mention one volunteer may seem unfair, but Chris D. Miller was an ACE volunteer for three months, 2018-2019.

George Locascio has been coming to Las Casas for several years, and we give huge thanks for all his labor in chainsaw work this last year!

In December 2017 and January 2018, Kira Kranzler, Matthew Mullinix, contributed critical funds and materials to re-roof the kitchen, as well as love and labor only a few months after Hurricane Maria, when the homestead was barely useable, and there was no electricity. Huge thanks and hugs for loving the place, the gardens, and the animals. Thanks also to Sally Richardson, & to Dan Kranzler for funding the kitchen roof!

Special mention: 3t’s two high school friends, Jane Linkson Clark and Joanne Patience Finch made social media contact with 3t several years ago…and in 2018 both were agreed that their kids needed an experience that might change their lives. Whether it did, or not, remains to be seen, (and perhaps they might testify to something, years down the line, but 3t had a wonderful and productive time with them, as solo volunteers who also got to partake in service-work with several large volunteer groups, like Horizons For Youth from Chicago, and Americorps Teams, carrying out hard labor to clear and prune the homestead. Ciaran Clark, 17 years old, and Florence Finch, 16 years old, volunteered at Las Casas de la Selva for one month with 3t as their guardian.

THANK YOU….ALL OF YOU! Please keep coming back.

Images by 3t Vakil, 2018

Movie of Hurricane Maria at Las Casas de la Selva
https://eyeontherainforest.org/?p=9841

Thank you to all our 2018 volunteer teams!

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.

Americorps Youth 2018 at Las Casas de la Selva

Since June 2018 many Americorps youth in Puerto Rico, chose to come to Las Casas on their volunteer days. The tasks at the project, led by 3t, are always hard labor, but fun. The mountain breeze, along with the cold mountain water, and terrific views, make it a hard-to-resist location!

These wonderful teams have helped with all manner of tasks including clearing debris, gardening, digging out landslides, digging drainage ditches, bridge repair, general construction, and helping with main drive maintenance. We are really appreciative of the service ethic that these folks have demonstrated.

Americorps youth (who are here in Puerto Rico working with FEMA on hurricane relief), continue to volunteer at Las Casas in 2019. Thank you very much for your service!

All images by 3t Vakil
https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/what-americorps

Appalachian State University A-S-E March 2017

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 UniversityPenn 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.”

Buy a Tee shirt and Help Support our Road and Bridge Building Project

Images by: 3t Vakil, Mackenzie Francisco, Celeste Womack, and Josie Carder
March 2017

Penn State University, York, March 2017

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.

Google Album: https://goo.gl/photos/pHjr61hJ2gwm6XgR9

Biola University, CA, at Las Casas de la Selva, January 2017

Students from Biola University, California, spent three days with us, and with them we started the BIG project of 2017. In preparation for The Bridge and Road Building Project, we cleared the lower trail of much undergrowth and built a small shed for protection of equipment and supplies whilst building the bridge. Thank you everyone for your hard work and great enthusiasm, we really enjoyed your company here at Las Casas de la Selva.
Thanks to volunteer Juan Reyes, and to Magha Garcia for her wonderful food.

This bridge and road building project is only possible through a generous grant from the Salomon Family Foundation, (Pat and Julio), and donations from Roland Pesch, (USA), Mark and Vanessa Evans, (UK), and Starrlight Augustine, (Norway). Please contact 3t if you are able to help with projects in person, in kind, or financially.

Images by 3t Vakil January 2017

Outdoor Adventure Field leaders in training – Oct 2016

These seven intrepid women from North Bay, Ontario, Canada are traveling through Puerto Rico, this October, as part of training to become Field leaders in expeditions. They stayed at Las Casas de la Selva and helped out for two days on manual labor tasks of clearing trails. Subjected to torrential rains, these ladies kept their smiles and energy high, and helped accomplish many tasks at hand.

Mackenzie Kerr said about this trip in advance: “We are a group of seven students in the Outdoor Adventure Naturalist program at Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley. We are raising money to get us to Puerto Rico and assess the current economic crisis they are facing. We will be using the money to help support local volunteer and ecotourism businesses and better understand how members of the community are faring.”

Mackenzie’s remarks from Ontario, after the trip to explore Puerto Rico:

“Myself, and team of Outdoor Adventure Naturalist felt enlightened and welcomed during our stay in Puerto Rico. Various individuals were willing to discuss environmental and economical concerns regarding the outdoor industry. We found ourselves emerged in various ecosystems through our time on the island. We were able to see caves, kayak, hike various trails, visit the national parks, volunteer and explore all that the natural environment of Puerto Rico had to offer. We found ourselves at the Eye on the Rainforest for a nights stay. We were very intrigued by the project and learning about how it functioned. We were welcomed with open arms. Our team found ourselves, regrouping and finding relaxation from our stay. As we reflect on our trip in its entirety it is safe to say we learned about the ecology that exists on the island. But we also learned about the fantastic people and outdoor adventure that it has to offer.”

Images by 3t Oct 2016

Earthwatch Teen Team Expedition, June 2016

June was a very wet month, and we hosted an intrepid Earthwatch Teen team, that went way beyond comfort zones during their ten day stay. This Earthwatch Teen Team braved sometimes torrential rains to assist Principal Investigator Norman Greenhawk collecting Chytrid samples along the Ethnobotanical Nature Trail. The teens learnt teamwork rapidly and became skilled at how to set up collection plots, becoming familiar with the use of the compass, measuring tape, and twine. After letting the plots rest for two days, the team returned and conducted leaf-litter surveys, searching the fallen leaves and detritus of the forest floor for frogs and Sphaerodactylus geckos. All captured animals were weighed and measured, and all amphibians were swabbed to test for the presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a fungus that can cause the amphibian disease Chytridiomycosis. This collection event is a part of Norman’s ongoing monitoring of Bd at Las Casas de la Selva.
See more about the Chytrid fungus: https://www.amphibiaweb.org/chytrid/chytridiomycosis.html
This team also measured and re-tagged 110 mahoe trees, (Hibiscus elatus), which are part of long-term study plots at Las Casas de la Selva, with Principal Investigator 3t Vakil.

Images by 3t and Chelsea Kyffin, who was the teen team facilitator.

Globalworks and Squaw Valley Preparatory School, April 2016

Globalworks provides intense adventure and service holidays for teenagers. We have collaborated with Globalworks since 2003, and we always have a great time, as well as getting a lot of work done! Twenty-two members, between 14 and 17 years of age, from the Squaw Valley Preparatory School, California, came to stay at Las Casas de la Selva with Scott Page, Director of Globalworks, Puerto Rico. Over a few days a huge amount of trailblazing was carried out, some cement work, and everyone partook in the salsa dance class with Yara Solis.. Thanks to Norman Greenhawk, who was the crew leader out in the forest. Thank you SVP staff Ms. Monica and Shana Boyd. Thanks to Hunter Banovich and Ms. Monica for their photos! Hope to see you all back here someday!

Dramatic Rainforest Adventures – short movie

Earthwatch Team 2015 with Stacey third from left. Thank you for a lovely reminder of our adventures together!

The Quest To Solve Wonders In The Rainforests Of Puerto Rico-Earthwatch Expedition

https://youtu.be/uilNnTt2T48

A video made by one of our 2015 Earthwatch volunteers, Stacie Stoffregen. Enjoy!…and she has said feel free to share it!

Montessori Schools from Puerto Rico and Boston – March 2016

These 13 and 14 year olds from Montessori schools in PR and US, braved the torrential rains of the Patillas mountain to join us at Las Casas de la Selva for a few days together, helping 3t with
re-potting nearly 200 tree seedlings, and they also learnt some woodworking skills with Ricardo and Alex. Andrés was chef, and provided us with yummy foods and a barbecue. Thank you all.

Instituto Nueva Escuela, Puerto Rico, Staff: L-R: Juan Jose Rodriguez Fernos, Alberto Viera Vargas, and Elsa Román.

INE Students: Erick García, Shaday Ruiz , Darian Cotto, Alleysha Nevárez, Evaliz Arroyo, Zulibeth León, Angélica Rodríguez, Imanol Dererme, Jeshua Guzmán.

Cambridge Montessori, Boston, Staff: Far Right: Joyce Nett and Genoveva Calvo-Rey.

CM Students:Wilson O’Brian, Adon G, Liliana Abramson, Finn Paquette, Gwyneth McLear, Eliza Austin, Mia Bawendi, Derek Hansen, Eve Meyer.

Globalworks & Sandy Spring Friends School March 2016

This great bunch of seniors from Sandy Spring Friends School in Washington DC, spent a few days working on major pruning around the homestead and laying the foundation for a new floor.
We were super impressed with the sheer hard work carried out, and this time we had great sunny weather as well. Thanks to school staff, Leah and Barry, and Globalworks facilitators, Scott & Arie. Magha made great food throughout, whilst 3t, Andres, Ricardo, and Alex led the work crews. BIG THANKS to all.

Pepperdine, App State, Fountain Valley: Volunteer Groups March 2016

These intrepid students from Fountain Valley High School, Colorado Springs spent 5 days of hard labor on projects ranging from nursery work and trail-blazing with 3t, to roadwork with Andres, and woodworking with Ricardo and Alex. This is the third year of FVS students volunteering at Las Casas de la Selva. We are honored to have worked alongside you all. Welcome back anytime! Thanks to Deb and Brett, awesome staff who accompanied the students. Also huge thanks to Magha Garcia for the delicious food. Check back in the coming weeks for more pix.

This was our 2016 Appalachian State University Team of hardworking volunteers on their Alternative Service Experience during Spring Break. We all worked on a multitude of tasks at Las Casas de la Selva, including organization of the sheds and workshop, deconstruction of an old roof, and ditch-digging for a new floor. AS Staff member, Mona helped in the library with cleaning abd book maintenance and care. We are thrilled every year to receive students from App State and every year just gets better. Abbie (her second year at Las Casas de la Selva) and Lucas – hats off to you for great team leadership. We thank you all for your labors, along with the fine company. See you soon again. Thanks also to Lizbeth Velez for participation with the groups, helping in all aspects of management.
Great team from Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA. This team built the two extra showers, that we need as some of our groups in the year are over 15 people. The year’s compost pile was emptied and a new one started. Thank you Carsen and Kris for leading the team and thank you all for such tremendous company and hard work. This team lived in a mountain cloud for the most part of their time here. It rained a lot!

Earthwatch Expedition – December into January 2016

Back row L-R: Inset, Israel Guzman, Herb Wexler, Janet Richards, Kamal Daghistani, Ziyou Yang, Diane Bentz, Julio Rodriguez. Front: Magha Garcia, Marigail Bentz, Chari Kauffman, Danny Nip, Patricia Salomon, Riona Kobayashi, 3t Vakil, Andres Rua.

Israel Guzman, President of SOPI, led the team into the forest for the first Winter Bird Surveys at Las Casas de la Selva. Marta Edgar previously carried out two years of surveys in the summer months with Earthwatch volunteers.

Globalworks teenagers, Treeplanting, May 2015

Globalworks brought the whole of the 8th Grade from San Francisco Day School to Las Casas de la Selva, May 2015.

We hosted three teams consecutively, for three days each. This wonderful bunch of teens planted critically endangered endemic Cornutia obovata trees in the forest.

Thanks to SFDS teacher Chris Corrigan for his tremendous leadership skills, and the enthusiasm he has brought to Las Casas over the last several years on Globalworks expeditions. Thanks to all the wonderful staff and students for the hard-work planting these Cornutia obovata out in the forest, and for the wonderful evenings back at the homestead. We salute you all! Thank you also to Globalworks staff, and to Las Casas volunteers Alfredo Lopez and Helen Galli, for all their help.
All pix by 3t Vakil unless otherwise credited.

See more about this tree-planting project https://eyeontherainforest.org/?p=5462

Earthwatch Team 4 July 2015

Earthwatch Team 4, July 2015. This team of teenage Earthwatchers spent time in the forest with 3t collecting seedlings, planting and monitoring endangered endemic tree species, and time with Norman in Hormiga Valley on herpetological surveys. Karen Babis,an Earthwatch volunteer in the past and her partner, Daniel Dioguardi spent time at the project and helped out in the field. Big thanks to Earthwatch Program Manager, Kyle Hutton, (third from left in image below), and Lena Cosentino for great teen team leadership.
Myriam Bourassa made this wonderful video (https://youtu.be/n1me_5p_CLc) of her time here.

Images by 3t Vakil, Karen Babis, Andres Rua, Lena Cosentino, and Daniel DioGuardi 2015