Over the last few decades, Costa Rica has managed to coin itself as a major eco-tourism hub. Hundreds of thousands of Northern Americans and Europeans now flock to its shores. Surrounding towns have sprung up supporting its previous agriculturally dominant population. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly harmful to this biologically rich country. In efforts to reinstate some of the country’s bio-diverse roots and previous local sustainability models, our team set out to explore how turtle volunteering could revive tourism and stimulate the local economy once more.

The team traveled to the Osa Peninsula (pacific coast of CR) and stayed in the location for complete immersion. Our co-creator was a turtle conservation organization, ‘COPROT’. The team quickly realized that the eco-tourism volunteering scene suffered from a major issue. Namely, a mismatch of expectation amongst passionate volunteers. In order to dissect this problem area, our team came up with ‘Sergio’; an online platform that allowed prospective volunteers to be fully acquainted with what they would be facing once infield, what would be required of them before arrival, step by step support throughout the application process as well as a post-experience service that allows them to aptly find jobs according to their experience and opportunity in the conservation field.

The team’s greatest learnings was that there is a great demand for conservation work, yet many of the NGOs that churn out impressive work are often off the grid, predominantly due to their humble existence and basic practices in the field. In effect, preventing them from advancing science and local protection of wildlife. Furthermore, there is little alignment between conservations – despite so many existing within close proximity. Most importantly, there are many ways to integrate the local community within conservation, turning them from egg poachers to guides and smart, sustainable business owners.