The people in our project


We work with such a variety of people—it is NEVER boring!

The Ticos

Costa Ricans call themselves Ticos.  They are kind, vivacious, hard-working, hospitable people.  Our workers show unparalleled commitment and often a high level of scientific curiosity.  They have always been honest and excruciatingly conscientious.  It has been a joy and a privilege to get to know them.

They run the farm, do our project accounting, machete the weeds, take care of the house and outbuildings, work with the neighbors, take data in the field, design experiments, repair the car, control leaf-cutter ant damage to new plantings, build anything from the smallest trinket to our huge new water tower, deal with government bureaucracies, help throw parties--the list is endless. 

And they do it with energy and good humor (well, maybe not the government bureaucracy part...).

Students, Academics, Donors

Many kinds of students have been involved., but mostly undergraduates from the University of California Irvine (UCI) in various stages of their studies and graduate students from UCI and other institutions.  We have sponsored over 50 undergraduate projects, three Master's degrees, and two PhDs. They have designed and carried out their own research projects on the farm.  Most of them arrived with little or no Spanish and left after a two-month home stay with neighboring families speaking and understanding with little problem.

Their main problem was usually the first two weeks getting used to Tico-time, bad roads, slow service, frustrating delays, lack of supplies, electrical black-outs and other infrastructural failures.  Eventually most of them resign themselves to getting less done in a week than they are used to at  home.  But by the end of the summer or other field period, they rarely failed to produce.

Photos left to right: packing up soil samples, choosing seedlings in the nursery, examining microscopic fungi, filming leaf-cutter ants, collecting insects in a downpour. Click to enlarge.

Academics from the U.S., Mexico, Australia, and other foreign countries have also participated in our work at various times.  Sometimes our donors come to visit!

The interactions between the Ticos and the others are often the most rewarding of all.

We have had several volunteer teams through University Research Expeditions Program of the University of California.  We do not have a volunteer program currently but may initiate one at some time in the future.

That's only a fraction of all the people who have contributed!