The Monteverde Institute is a community-based organization, located in the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Students and researchers come from around the world to study the various eco-systems, including the human.


We are so proud of all that our interns have been able to accomplish both for themselves and for the community and we want to share a few of their recent stories with you.

Are you or someone you know looking for an internship? One that is interesting, challenging and useful, and where your work can have a long term effect to help others? Consider an internship at the Monteverde Institute, in the Cloud Forest. 

As you may recall from your time in Monteverde, our commitment is to assist our local communities, including our neighbors. 


Courtney Vijil, top left, and her university advisor share a common interest. Coralia Vazquez-Otero, top right, her advisor, was a former intern at the Monteverde Institute. They are both from the University of South Florida.

Emily Patt, bottom left, and Rylee Rawson, bottom right, are from Oregon State University.
Stories from our fall interns and a former intern whose life is still touched by her experience. 

Courtney Vigil works with our Community Health Coordinator, Jenny Peña. She is making a study of the lifestyles of a number of families from the local schools, helping us to discover how the parents’ lifestyles affect the children and how education can help all to have a healthier lifestyle. We have operated a summer camp for the past eight summers and perhaps some of their findings can assist with that program as well as in the schools. This work fits well with Courtney’s desire for a career in community health and safety, perhaps with the Peace Corps or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control? 

Coralia Vasquez-Otero

The value of an internship at MVI continues long after the time in Monteverde. When she was applying, Courtney Vijil asked her advisor to write a recommendation for her and was surprised that her advisor, Coralia Vasquez-Otero, had been an intern here herself. We were in touch with Coralia and this is what she wrote about her experience here:

"I visited the Monteverde Institute back in 2011 when I was part of the USF Globalization and Community Health Field School, an anthropology course, under the mentorship of Drs. Romero Daza and Himmelgreen. It was an enriching experience during which I did not only learn about research but more importantly, I learned about the community. It taught me the value of listening to the people and prioritizing what is important to them. When Courtney, one of my students, told me that she was interested in participating in the Community Health Program part of the Monteverde Institute, I encouraged it. I understood the importance of getting out of our comfort zones and learning through life experiences."

Emily Patt, bottom left, attends Oregon State University, where she studies Horticulture and Spanish.

A few years ago our Community Health Specialist, Jenny Peña participated in a study with USF faculty and students, in which it was discovered that food source instability is a problem in the Monteverde area. Emily works with Jenny to help develop a circular economy design, for greater food stability. She helps maintain the demonstration and kitchen gardens at the Institute and works with Julio Rojas, who is studying soils in the area when farmers in the area request help. They’ve been able to offer answers for “Why is the soil in one part of the farm more productive than another that is nearby, and what can I do about it?”

 Has her time in Monteverde been an experience that matched her expectations? Here are her thoughts on what the program has meant to her.

 “During my ten weeks at MVI, I am working on a variety of interesting projects, getting to work in community gardens, lead agriculture-based workshops for students in local elementary schools, and helping to implement a survey of producers in the area. This survey is being distributed with the hopes of gathering information that will lead to more produce being bought and sold locally within the region, an act that would help boost the local economy. This project has especially showed me practical ways of how to make our agriculture system as a whole more sustainable- from the seeds being planted in the ground to the food ending up on people’s plates. Overall my time here has been a joy, and I feel grateful to be a part of a community that is doing so much positive work for our environment and the people in this community.”

Rylee Rawson, bottom right, is from Oregon State University, where she studies Environmental Sciences and Geography. At the Monteverde Institute she works with Randy Chinchilla, our GIS specialist, learning how to use mapping to help with ecological restoration. Both Rylee and Emily Patt, below, assist with gathering soil information and Rylee uses the campus laboratory to analyze soil samples to help farmers improve their practices in an area with very difficult and varying soil conditions.

Ashley Gora, former Intern working in Environmental Protection, and member of the Monteverde Institute U.S. Board.

Ashley Gora, who is now on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for the Monteverde Institute, did two back-to-back internships at the Institute, 2014 to July of 2015. She says, “I was no environmental studies student. I wasn’t enrolled in biology or ecology courses that traditionally connect students with programs in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, because of the opportunities afforded to me by the Monteverde Institute and their community partners...I was able to tap into interests, capabilities, and passions that were lying dormant...Much of the applied environmental science, data entry and analysis, community engagement, intercultural and cross-disciplinary skills that I learned as an intern and a fellow have acted as building blocks that enable me to do what I do today-and what I will do in the future.” Ashley is currently a grants writer for the Big Sur Land Trust, a local conservation organization that is based in Monterey, California.


Luisa Morena is in advisor for internships. You can contact her at:, or click the link, below, for more information.

If you want to help the work that we do at Monteverde Institute, you can make a donation clicking the button below, via PayPal.

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