The Science Exchange Sea Turtle Internship: LatAm & the Caribbean

Video and Photos

Snorkeling to find new field sites has its perks
Snorkeling to find new field sites has its perks
A restaurant campaign we started
A restaurant campaign we started
Before tagging the fin of the turtle I snagged a kiss
Before tagging the fin of the turtle I snagged a kiss
This was where we worked some days!!
This was where we worked some days!!
Just one of the many amazing creatures you see
Just one of the many amazing creatures you see
TSE Family
TSE Family
Capturing turtles
Capturing turtles
Crystal Clear Water
Crystal Clear Water

About

The Science Exchange is a non-profit organization that offers customized, affordable internships for undergraduate and graduate students from around the world who are interested in interning in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Science Exchange operates in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama. Internships packages are extremely affordable and great way for college students to gain valuable experience working at sea turtle research centers and conducting field-work.

Highlights
  • Earn college credit while experiencing complete cultural immersion out in the field. No large groups and classrooms!
  • We offer partial scholarships to all interns.
  • The Science Exchange creates customized packages that fit your career and academic goals, schedule, and language abilities.
  • Learn a foreign language the only way - by living with the locals.
  • Two-thirds of our interns publish or present their research. 30% of our graduated interns go on to secondary education programs. Many have landed jobs with sea turtle or other conservation groups!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

90%
based on 26 reviews
  • Growth 9
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 8.4
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 8.8
Showing 9 - 16 of 26
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Ellen
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

best travel advice i've ever taken

i knew someone else who did this program from my school a few years ago and he had only good things to say. i applied and got accepted and went on the trip and was very happy with my experience. costa rica was beautiful and i learned a lot about pollution while doing my project down there. i even met another volunteer who was able to help us with our understanding of the project, and give insight into other pollution projects he'd been a part of. great way to establish connections within a tight-knit turtle-lovers scientific community.

Default avatar
Nature
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

exchanging more than science!

This program was a beautiful way to experience a new culture, cultivate new friendships, be challenged culturally, academically and intellectually. The turtle work was only part of the experience; we had daily monitoring, hatchery work, etc. (the same thing that goes on for most turtle projects) but with this project, living in such a small community allowed me to better my Spanish, to troubleshoot science in the field, to find new and interesting ways to fill the time of each day, to cook for myself, and to just generally have a broader appreciation for the beauty of life and nature. An amazing experience overall!

Default avatar
Jenny
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sea Turtle Exchane

This program is not only a wonderful way to get more involved in ecological research, but also an awesome cultural opportunity. Participants work long hours conducting challenging research. However, they also have ample free time to play soccer with the locals, practice some Spanish, and enjoy the scrumptious food options. Furthermore participants get to experience the frustrations and rewards of working with an endangered species.

What would you improve about this program?
This program would benefit from a little more scientific initiative. Monitoring sea turtles nests clearly takes a lot of time and effort. However, the program would benefit from focusing a little more on research.
Response from The Science Exchange

I am so glad you had an awesome cultural experience and played soccer with the locals! Those are the memories you will never lose!

Default avatar
Gretchen
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

See Sea Turtles Run

A regular day consisted of patrolling the beaches at night for turtle nests. After collecting any eggs that were found we would take them back to our hatchery and record the data from the amount of eggs and their progress. The shifts can be tiresome, but the end result is worth the manual labor.

What would you improve about this program?
Better understanding and communication between the staff members and the students
Response from The Science Exchange

I agree there are a lot of long hours and difficult communication between the remote camps and the U.S. These challenges are part of the journey of growing and I am glad you recommend the program!

Default avatar
Claire
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

TSE is a great introduction to fieldwork in conservation biology

The Science Exchange has created a very unique learning environment geared specifically towards blossoming scientists. If this is to be your first encounter with extensively leading your own field research, The Science Exchange is a great place to start. I was able to make decisions regarding protocol, procedures, and data collection that were pertinent to the success of the study, and learned a lot about hands on management of a project and how to successfully problem-shoot within a study. Overall, the physical work of data collection took about 5-9 hours a week depending on influx of data, and data entry/analysis took roughly 2-3 hours a week. This amount of work kept me busy and my mind at work, while still allowing for ample time to enjoy life in another country. This program allows you to emerse yourself as much as you're comfortable with in both another culture and in scientific growth. This internship is perfect for students just starting their scientific careers at a university level who are looking to gain valuable experience in the field of conservation biology.

What would you improve about this program?
This program does a wonderful job of giving students the avenues for growth and development within their scientific careers, and allows for students to emerse themselves in another culture, however so areas were lacking. The program did not seem to be catered to the study site specifically at all, nor did it seem to be particularly invested in the results of the study. It felt very much like a classroom approach where "as long as you understand the concepts, the results are secondary". The director only seemed superficially knowledgeable about the study location, with regards to both the science and the culture. The I rector also seemed much more invested in our experience livin abroad than our growth as scientists. While this allowed for growth within myself, a less motivated or less experienced individual may have found frustration in the program's lack of adequacy for a successful field research project.
Response from The Science Exchange

I thank you for your kind words! I do hope that you contact me when you return so that we can do more analysis with your data in the U.S., and compare it to other sites and years.

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Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fun!

I had a great time during my internship for The Science Exchange. I learned a lot during my time in Costa Rica. It was a really fun experience. During my time, I was able to visit three different sea turtle camps. As an international business major I was able to fulfill my travel abroad and internship requirement at one time. My favorite part was immersing myself into the culture. I was able to practice the Spanish language and made a lot of friends. I would recommend this program to anyone.

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't change a thing. My entire time was great. Housing and food were great. The people were awesome and everyone was really involved and caring.
Response from The Science Exchange

Thank you!

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Lizette
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Couldn't have asked for a better first experience abroad

Working with The Science Exchange and encountering my first abroad experience was life changing. I grew a fond appreciation for sea turtle conservation, Costa Rica and environmental education. Being able to immerse myself in a different culture while learning about Costa Rica culture was an amazing opportunity to grow intellectually.

What would you improve about this program?
The analysis of the data was a bit foreign. Perhaps spending a bit more time with Katherine (or whoever is the director) before embarking on this journey and discussing in depth what the purpose of the data collection is and what realistic conclusions can be drawn from it.
Response from The Science Exchange

We loved working with you!

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brett
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

tortugas lindas!

This was my first field project as a biologist. I knew very little spanish at the time. I lived with a host family for 3 months and gathered a team to help me with the project from the friends I made there. I spent alot of time walking the beach at night watching turtle nesting behavior. Eating with my family and planting a garden in their property and helping them get some ecotourism to help pay some bills and deter turtle egg poaching. I ended up making a family for life there in Panama.

What would you improve about this program?
save more turtles!
Response from The Science Exchange

You were well loved in your community!