How It All Began

We are very proud of KSTR’s co-founders, Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone.  They have both just graduated from two very prestigious colleges, Janine from Stanford in California and Aislin from McGill in Montreal.  Congratulations to you both!

Janine starts right away with a two-year program, Teach For America, teaching elementary school children (with English as a second language) in East Los Angeles.  Janine will concurrently be getting a Master’s Degree in Education at Loyola Marymount University.  We are thrilled that she will be able to teach these kids about the rainforest, it’s destruction, and then empower them to save it!

Aislin is currently doing her internship on sustainable agriculture in New Brunswick, Canada. After that they send her to her placement in either Cuba, Costa Rica, or Honduras and she will be assisting community- based projects working on biodiversity restoration.  Way to go ladies!!

Janine and Aislin were both raised in Manuel Antonio and saw the rainforest destruction first hand.  The area became very popular and more and more people wanted to build.  When they were just 9 years old they set up a roadside stand and sold items they made.  At first they used the money to buy chicken and pickles at Pickles Deli but then wanted to do something to save the rainforest with their money.  So they raised $80, which Janine’s mother matched, and they donated the money to buy 4 acres in the heart of the rainforest of Montezuma that would never be developed. Being very excited by what they had done, Janine’s mother agreed to drive them to Montezuma to see the land they had bought.

Once they arrived they looked up the organization that they had donated the money to, only to be told that they had no way of knowing if the money had been used for administrative costs or even where it had been used! They were young, still only 9 years old, and very sad.

On the way back in the car Janine’s mom gave them a solution.  They could start their own organization and make sure that every dollar donated would be accounted for.  So they started KSTR by adopting trees out to people and planting them where there needed to be reforestation.  They have kept track of every tree since then, and know where they all are, so if anyone wants to see their tree, they can go to the location of the planted trees to see it. After that they managed to get a loan and purchased 5 acres of rainforest in the middle of the rainforest in Manuel Antonio.  They sold each meter for a $1 to pay back the loan.  The piece of land was finally paid off last year!

They also had help from a group to find locations of where monkeys were being electrocuted or hit by cars, and through the years have successfully placed 130 bridges across the roads to help. KSTR now has a professional monkey bridge team that goes out monthly to fix bridges, put up new ones and monitor all of the bridges.  They also have monthly meetings with ICE to coordinate where branches need to be cut back from the live wires and to discuss any new electrocutions.  ICE sends out their cherry picker to help when needed.

Since this program was started 10 years ago, the Endangered Titi Monkeys population has more than doubled!

KSTR now has a wildlife rescue center with a full time wildlife vet and 2 helpers, last year they took in 120 animals for 26 species, with an incredible release rate of 55%!

KSTR also has a Wildlife Sanctuary for wildlife that can never be released, with over 30 monkeys.

The girls’ roadside stand has turned into a large Souvenir Store with 100% of the proceeds going to save the rainforest!  It is located in the Hotel Mono Azul.  (There is a 10% off coupon in Quepolandia if you want to check it out.)

Janine and Aislin also created the first public library in the area and it is still open today with more than 2500 books located right behind the KTR Store.

KSTR has a kid’s camp that meets for special events, like when the US Ambassador came to the area and wanted to meet with KSTR.

There are sister projects all over the world and chapters in other areas as well.

There is quite a lot to be proud of when it comes to these two girls who just turned 22!  We wish them both the best and can’t wait for them to come back and take over the projects as adults!

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The KSTR Organic Farm

Kids Saving the Rainforest recently partnered with Blue Banyan Inn, an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast located right outside of Manuel Antonio.

The Blue Banyan is part of a 75-acre ecologically sustainable community, encompassing KSTR’s new Wildlife Sanctuary and International Volunteer Center, tilapia farms, nurseries, and botanical gardens. As a KSTR volunteer, I spent part of my time volunteering at the Blue Banyan Inn, helping them move towards their goal of becoming fully self-sustainable. My primary job, along with Rodrigo and Tio, two of the workers on staff, was to harvest a food source for the animals housed at the sanctuary.

Every Wednesday, Rodrigo, Tio, and I drove through the thousands of palm and teak trees that buffer the Blue Banyan Inn and protect the animals within from the noise and stress of civilization. The property is surrounded by primary and secondary rainforest with expansive mountain ranges looming in the distance, separating one of the greenest parts of country from the Pacific Ocean just 20 minutes away. Wildlife is abundant in the area, and on several mornings I spotted scarlet macaws flying over the valley on their way to forage for ripe fruit. Tiki, the resident blue and gold macaw at the Inn also welcomed us to his world each day with endless chatter.

The patches of fruit trees, vines, and compost holes on the farm needed to be tended. Our first task was to clean the brush from the pineapple, maracuya, and cana crops. Wielding only machetes and our determination, we conquered chest high weeds, razor sharp leaves, insects, and of course the sun. The rewards, however, were well worth it. At lunchtime we picked the best-looking pineapples we could find, and after having resisted them all morning, we finally got to enjoy their natural sweetness. The pineapple, like many of the fruits grown on the farm, would also serve as food for the animals in the sanctuary.

Once the land was cleared, Cristian, an employee of the nearby Palma Tica Company and expert in agriculture, helped us design a compost heap and a plant nursery. He generously supplied KSTR with a few hundred kilos of cow dung to start our heap, which, knee deep, we shoveled evenly among the decomposing greens of the recently trimmed farmland. The grubs 5 to 6 feet down in the compost heap were the largest I have ever seen, and that was exactly what we wanted for nutrient rich compost.

Christian also offered advice on how to care for the fruit trees on the property. In order to produce the most fruit, we trimmed the trees into a cup shape, as he suggested, so that the sunlight could get to the leaves on the inside of the tree.

This led to one of my memorable experiences at the farm. I was about 10 feet up in a limon tree with my machete cutting some of the inside branches when I felt a sting on my neck. Having lived in the rainforest for 8 months, this was nothing new and I assumed it was an ant. “Hormigas!” Rodrigo said from down below. “Si, hormigas,” I said and continued cutting. Seconds later, I was stung multiple more times. Rodrigo was trying to tell me something, but I was too busy trying not to fall out of the tree while holding the machete and trying to deal with the stings to really understand. Suddenly, I turned around to see a baseball-sized bee hive with hornets swarming around my head. I immediately jumped from the tree, not realizing I was heading straight for Rodrigo and Tio below. The look on their faces was unforgettable as I landed with a machete in one hand and bees flying everywhere. I picked up a dead bee, looked at Rodrigo and said, “Hormigas!!??”. “No” he said, “abejas….” Apparently, there was a bit of a language barrier that time, but in the end we all laughed it off.

The new Organic Farm at the KSTR International Volunteer Center now has two functioning compost heaps and healthy crops of pineapples, sugar cane, and passion fruit. Along with planting and caring for dozens of banana, limon, water apple, mango, wild cashew, and guayaba trees, we also helped complete the new plant nursery. Our efforts will increase the amount of crops KSTR can harvest to feed the animals—and even the guests—at the Blue Banyan Inn. With KSTR’s help, this beautiful community will give back to the land and animals that make it so special, and I’m very grateful to have been a part of that process.

by, Trevor Tierney

Creating an Organic Farm

 

Written by: Trevor Tierney, KSTR Volunteer

Kids Saving the Rainforest recently partnered with Blue Banyan Inn, an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast located right outside of Manuel Antonio. The Blue Banyan is part of a 75-acre ecologically sustainable community, encompassing KSTR’s new Wildlife Sanctuary and International Volunteer Center, tilapia farms, nurseries, and botanical gardens. As a KSTR volunteer, I spent part of my time working at the Blue Banyan Inn, helping them move towards their goal of becoming fully self-sustainable. My primary job, along with Rodrigo and Tio, two of the workers on staff, was to harvest a food source for the animals housed at the sanctuary.

 

Every Wednesday, Rodrigo, Tio, and I drove through the thousands of palm and teak trees that buffer the Blue Banyan Inn and protect the animals within from the noise and stress of civilization. The property is surrounded by primary and secondary rainforest with expansive mountain ranges looming in the distance, separating one of the greenest parts of country from the Pacific Ocean just 20 minutes away. Wildlife is abundant in the area, and on several mornings I spotted scarlet macaws flying over the valley on their way to forage for ripe fruit. Tiki, the resident blue and gold macaw at the Inn also welcomed us to his world each day with endless chatter.

 

The patches of fruit trees, vines, and compost holes on the farm needed to be tended. Our first task was to clean the brush from the pineapple, maracuya, and cana crops. Wielding only machetes and our determination, we conquered chest high weeds, razor sharp leaves, insects, and of course the sun. The rewards, however, were well worth it. At lunchtime we picked the best-looking pineapples we could find, and after having resisted them all morning, we finally got to enjoy their natural sweetness. The pineapple, like many of the fruits grown on the farm, would also serve as food for the animals in the sanctuary.

 

Once the land was cleared, Cristian, an employee of the nearby Palma Tica Company and expert in agriculture, helped us design a compost heap and a plant nursery. He generously supplied KSTR with a few hundred kilos of cow dung to start our heap, which, knee deep, we shoveled evenly among the decomposing greens of the recently trimmed farmland. The grubs 5 to 6 feet down in the compost heap were the largest I have ever seen, and that was exactly what we wanted for nutrient rich compost.

 

Christian also offered advice on how to care for the fruit trees on the property. In order to produce the most fruit, we trimmed the trees into a cup shape, as he suggested, so that the sunlight could get to the leaves on the inside of the tree.

 

This led to one of my memorable experiences at the farm. I was about 10 feet up in a limon tree with my machete cutting some of the inside branches when I felt a sting on my neck. Having lived in the rainforest for 8 months, this was nothing new and I assumed it was an ant. “Hormigas!” Rodrigo said from down below. “Si, hormigas,” I said and continued cutting. Seconds later, I was stung multiple more times. Rodrigo was trying to tell me something, but I was too busy trying not to fall out of the tree while holding the machete and trying to deal with the stings to really understand. Suddenly, I turned around to see a baseball-sized bee hive with hornets swarming around my head. I immediately jumped from the tree, not realizing I was heading straight for Rodrigo and Tio below. The look on their faces was unforgettable as I landed with a machete in one hand and bees flying everywhere. I picked up a dead bee, looked at Rodrigo and said, “Hormigas!!??”. “No” he said, “abejas….” Apparently, there was a bit of a language barrier that time, but in the end we all laughed it off.

 

The new Organic Farm at the KSTR International Volunteer Center now has two functioning compost heaps and healthy crops of pineapples, sugar cane, and passion fruit. Along with planting and caring for dozens of banana, limon, water apple, mango, wild cashew, and guayaba trees, we also helped complete the new plant nursery. Our efforts will increase the amount of crops KSTR can harvest to feed the animals—and even the guests—at the Blue Banyan Inn. With KSTR’s help, this beautiful community will give back to the land and animals that make it so special, and I’m very grateful to have been a part of that process.

 

Plans for KSTR Volunteer Center Underway

Groundbreaking on the new Kids Saving the Rainforest Volunteer Center is tentatively scheduled for May 2011. The Volunteer Center will be located at Blue Banyan Inn, home to KSTR’s animal sanctuary and just 20 minutes away from KSTR’s headquarters in Manuel Antonio.

The center is being funded in part by long-time KSTR volunteer, Everett Janssen who volunteers to help sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in Minnesota. The actual structure will be a three-story building consisting of 6 dorm rooms, a lounge space, expansive outdoor terraces, and habitation for the volunteer director. The center will be able to accommodate up to 24 volunteers, and alternative housing is available at the Blue Banyan Inn or off-site at Hotel Mono Azul. Volunteers will also have access to the Blue Banyan Inn’s restaurant and outdoor areas for group meetings and free time. Everett plans to be very hands-on throughout the project and hopes to set up, organize, and run the volunteer program during its initial stages.

The Volunteer Center is the next step in KSTR’s ongoing mission to help educate people about the local rainforest and its inhabitants as well as global environmentally sound practices. Volunteers will have the opportunity to care for animals at the sanctuary, plant trees, and learn about organic gardening and sustainable living. Click here for more information about our volunteer program.

You can help support the new KSTR Volunteer Center by donating money that will be used to furnish the center with beds, tables, lights and other things making it a great place to house our volunteers. Click here to donate to our building program.

KSTR’s New Nature and Wildlife Volunteer Program

Kids Saving the Rainforest has an exciting and unique new program for volunteers, offering:

  • Wildlife caretaking
  • Sustainable farming
  • Accommodations at Blue Banyan Inn – rated #1 by Trip Advisor
  • Rainforest Educational Center (Creating and building)
  • Wildlife rehab
  • Zoo (local and exotic wildlife)
  • Spanish Lessons

What is included:

  • 3 meals a day (7 AM – 7:30 AM  Breakfast; 12 Noon – 12:30 Lunch; At your leisure – Dinner)
  • Free wireless internet
  • 1 load of laundry per week
  • 8 hour/day, 5 day/week work week (so you can travel)
  • Luxurious accommodations which include: Queen-sized beds, beautiful bathrooms made from river rock with hot water showers, patios, mountain views, gorgeous swimming pool, microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker (Click for pictures.)

Here are the areas that we need volunteers for:

  • Wildlife care
  • Organic gardening
  • Building animal enclosures
  • Alternative Energy, including solar
  • Livestock, including chickens and goats
  • Tilapia farming
  • Trail making in rainforest and around river
  • Medicinal plants
  • Cooking
  • Botanical Garden
  • Horticulture and Nurseries
  • Developing Rainforest Educational Center
  • Making natural soap, laundry detergent, cleaning products, bug repellent, and candles
  • Wood working
  • Construction using natural materials
  • Teaching coexistence with nature

Rates may be flexible based on expertise:

  • 1 week –   $ 600  Single occupancy – $ 400 per person Double occ –  $300 triple or quad  per person
  • 2 weeks – $1150  Single occupancy – $ 750 per person Double occ –  $550 triple or quad  per person
  • 3 weeks – $1650  Single occupancy – $1050 per person Double occ – $750 triple or quad  per person
  • 4 weeks – $2000  Single occupancy – $1400 per person Double occ – $980 triple or quad  per person

Please email us with any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you.

Article on Plants

Plants of The Rainforest

By Anna Dow

Edited by Amy Thomas

(Both are volunteers of KSTR)

Plants are so COOL!  Here is why!  Each and every tiny plant in the rainforest is very important to the world.  Working as a team, these plants regulate our global climate, give us air to breathe, provide us with medicines, and give food and shelter to animals of all sizes (including humans).

Regulating Weather – As mentioned earlier, our planet has a fever. Bad gases known as greenhouse gases are trapping heat inside the earth’s atmosphere, causing it to get hotter than is safe. Burning coal and oil so we can drive cars and have electricity releases these poison gases. The rainforest naturally filters these toxins and keeps a healthy balance of gases in the air giving the rainforest the nickname “Lungs of the Earth”. Could you live without your lungs? Our planet can’t either. (Telforde, Carole & Theodorou, Rod)

Rainforests also act like big sponges, soaking up the immense rainfall through their roots that will be later released as water vapor. This water vapor will form clouds high in the air that will later rain down, helping life grow below. If these forests disappear it will throw off these necessary ecological cycles, causing widespread drought and crop failure, while increasing the unnatural warming of our planet. (Green, 20)

Shelter – It is not just in the cartoons that cute creatures make their homes in trees. Rainforest trees are always bustling with life. They are like the big buildings of the animal world, and forests are the big cities. How would you feel if a bunch of monkeys came into your city and cut down buildings? I would be pretty upset!

Plants Provide Medicines – 25% of Western Pharmaceuticals are made from rainforest ingredients. The National Cancer Institute has found up to 3,000 plants that fight cancer, and considering all the magical rainforests in the world, I bet that is just the beginning. Vincristine, for instance, is a medicine that comes from the periwinkle plant in the rainforest, and is currently saving countless lives of children struggling with Leukemia (cancer of the blood). Over 100 pharmaceutical companies and several branches of the US government are also doing research to find plants to cure many infections and viruses, including AIDS.

Some Medicinal Plants that have been discovered:

• The blood red sap of the virola is used to treat skin rashes and infections. (Kurtis, pg.31)

• Indians in both the Columbian Amazon and in Venezuela have been found to use wild nutmeg to clear up fungal infections. This is particularly interesting because these tribes are vastly separated and have never communicated. (Kurtis, pg.34)

• Opium poppy from Asia (made into the painkiller Morphine). (Kurtis, pg.38)

• The rosy periwinkle from Madagascar – source of Vincristine (used in chemotherapy for

childhood leukemia), and Vinblastine (used to fight Hodgkins disease). (Kurtis, pg.38)

• Reserpine from India (traditionally used for snakebites, and reduces blood pressure). (Kurtis, pg. 38)

• Ephedrine from China (treats asthma, hay fever, and low blood pressure). (Kurtis, pg.38)

• The Purple Foxglove is the source of digitalis (used to treat heart disease). (Kurtis, pg.39)

• South American Cinchona tree produces Quinine, which cures malaria. (Kurtis, pg.39)

“The Amazonian Rainforest is a mysterious place. Some scientists believe there

are cures [there] for every known disease – cures that could be drawn from plants that we don’t even know exist” (Kurtis, pg.5)

Foods – 80% or more of the developed world’s diet originated in the

tropical rainforest. Some of the rainforests tasty gifts are: avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos and tomatoes; vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash, yams, black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, coffee, vanilla, Brazil nuts, cashews, and chewing gum. In fact, there are at least

3,000 fruits found in the rainforests. Of these, only 200 are now in use in the

Western World. The Indians of the rainforest use over 2,000.

Aren’t you curious how all those foods taste that we have never tried? If we destroy the rainforest we will never know.

So help us to save the rainforest!  Stop by our KSTR Souvenir Store.  100% of the proceeds go to save the rainforest and we have great prices too!  The store is located adjacent to the Hotel Mono Azul and is open daily from 7 AM until 10 PM.

Article on living green

How You Can Be Green and Contribute to a Healthier Planet!

First of all, before we get started, we want to wish all of the mothers a Happy Mother’s Day!  We hope you all have the day that you deserve!

Below we have listed some ideas to help you be environmentally aware.

When cooling your house keep the following in mind:

  • A ceiling fan uses a lot less energy than air conditioners.
  • When you have to use the air conditioner, remember to keep your thermostat at 80 to 82 degrees to save energy.
  • Keep your ceiling fan on when you have the air conditioner on, it will improve you’re air conditioner’s efficiency.
  • Be sure all doors and windows are closed when using the air, and curtains closed when the sun is coming through the windows, as the sun will heat up the room.
  • Seal all air leaks in your rooms so the cold air won’t escape.
  • There is great news about the Old Wife’s tale that it uses more energy to turn lights on and off than to leave them on.  That is what it is, just an Old Wife’s tale, it is not true!  If you are going to be out of the room for more than a minute you should turn them off.
  • As most of you already know, use energy efficient light bulbs.  They are great for saving energy and helping reduce energy usage.

Here are some tips for your garden and on your property:

  • In the garden, or anywhere on your property, be sure to use native plants.  Native animals depend on the plants and trees that they have evolved with for food and shelter.  Local animals find little attraction in imported trees and plants.
  • Native plants and trees will not only attract birds, butterflies, and monkeys but will also save the time and expense of daily watering.  Growing indigenous plants and trees can save 50% of the water typically used to maintain outdoor plants.
  • Put mulch around plants, it can cut the amount of water lost through evaporation by up to 70%.  It also limits weed growth and can improve soil conditions.
  • Growing plants and trees will not only lower greenhouse gas emissions and provide habitats for wildlife, but it will also lower home energy costs.
  • Trees with high canopies will provide shade for your house, keeping your house cooler.
  • Make sure your air conditioning unit is in the shade.
  • Even small plants can help cool your home, through the evaporative process called transpiration.
  • You can enjoy significant yearly savings in home cooling costs by landscaping wisely.

Remember that KSTR has a souvenir store where 100% of the proceeds go to save the rainforest.  Please help us by shopping in our store and you will gain by helping to save the rainforest.  (If you look for our ad in Quepolandia you can have a 10% discount so you will really win!)  Our shop has some of the best prices in the area, so come on in and compare us!

We are located one mile from Quepos heading to the Manuel Antonio National Park on the right hand side, adjacent to Hotel Mono Azul.  We are open from 7 AM until 10 PM daily!  For more information, call 2777-2592.

*Thanks to True Green, 100 Everyday Ways You Can Contribute to a Healthier Planet by Kim McKay & Jenny Boonin Published by National Geographic Society 2006, for the information provided in this article.