February 2013 Newsletter – HAPPY VALENTINE”S DAY!!!

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    The animals of the rainforest wish our supporters a Happy Valentine’s Day and want to thank you for helping them! KSTR has a great idea for your list of Valentines. Make a donation before the end of January and we will send you a certificate in the name of your loved one which makes a perfect Valentine’s Day card. Spread some love and save the wildlife! Donate here! W…e sincerely appreciate your support in helping us to continue our lifesaving work with the wildlife in our area!
    As you may already know we are excited to be moving our Wildlife Rescue Center to our Wildlife Sanctuary enabling us to serve even more rainforest animals within our budget. We are thrilled that the Rescue Center will be able to continue to operate in its new location with plans for some wonderful improvements including a teaching window so our vet can share with visitors her work with the animals as she is caring for them.Thanks again for your ongoing support, we look forward to sending more good news about our continuing progress at the KSTR Animal Sanctuary and Wildlife Rescue Center soon!Pura vida from KSTR

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KSTR Sustainability Project By Volunteer Rachel Melvin

Kids Saving the Rainforest is focused on preserving and protecting the local wildlife. This mission includes housing a wildlife sanctuary on the grounds of the Blue Banyan Inn on the property that is called “the finca”. The sanctuary currently houses 29 monkeys plus a crab eating raccoon. Feeding them, as well as the volunteers that care for them, and BBI’s numerous guests can take an extraordinary amount of food.

KSTR strives to implement a more sustainable operation on the Finca and our next venture in this arena is supplying a sustainable egg supply to feed monkeys, volunteers, and guests.

This journey began with the construction of a chicken coop, quickly named Casa de Pollo by the volunteers. Mono Azul employees and their three volunteer helpers built the coop. The roomy coop was sided with wire mesh and fencing to protect against predators but still allow a breeze to pass through and roofed to protect against the sun. These are important factors in a tropical climate as over-heated hens do not produce well. The floor was left open except for an elevated platform housing the individual nest boxes for the hens to roost at night and hopefully for the volunteers to gather eggs from in the morning. The floor will soon be lined with concrete to facilitate easy cleaning and protect from burrowing predators (after eggs or hens). Even though the Mono Azul boys probably feared for their lives at times because of leaving the tools in the hands of us Gringa girls, the construction was completed with no mishaps and few injuries (mostly just bruised thumbs from hammering).

The next step was to secure a laying population, which was started with three baby chicks soon dubbed Suzie, Rachel, and Jenny (after the volunteers present on their arrival). As the sex of the chicks is incredibly hard to determine at such young age, this was more of a fun pet project for the volunteers, of which I was an avid campaigner, having never seen or held a baby chick before. The three chicks will soon be grown to 23 with the addition of 20 confirmed laying hens.

On their arrival the chicks were placed in their new home for the next six weeks, a large cardboard box. The box was lined with newspaper and shredded paper to act as bedding and a large continuous feeder and water were placed in the box. At night a ceramic heat lamp was added to make sure the chicks stayed a balmy 100 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the night so all their energy was focused on growing and not staying warm. Each day the chicks were taken out into the yard to explore and try different foods, including small rocks also known as grit, which is essential for their diet to facilitate digestion in their gizzard (the muscular gizzard and the grit essential grind the feed aiding the gastric juices to digest the food). The chicks were well cared for and happy. They loved each other’s company and became distressed when separated for daily cleaning. Research says they will continue to prefer each others company over other chickens as they grow up together and I, for one, am very excited to test this theory when they are placed in the coop with the other hens.

For weeks we watched them grow and change, Suzie was the largest chick at the beginning named after our 6-foot tall volunteer! As the weeks passed her companions soon surpassed her, with Jenny current holding the title of Gordito. Recently our little balls of fluff have entered a new stage of development. The very awkward stage we have deemed the teenage years due to their awkward and gawky appearances, have grown their adult white feathers and lost their yellow fuzz around their bodies. They are on their way to adulthood but still retain their small and yellow head, looking like 2 halves of different chickens. They are about 4 weeks old at the moment and still growing quickly. Having gotten too big to pick up and hold easily, reality is setting in that I will soon have to transfer my baby chicks to their new coop and only see them during a daily egg collection. But I’m proud that they will help KSTR on its mission to become more sustainable and feed the Finca.

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.

A Day at KSTR’s Kids Camp

Planting trees at Kids Camp.

Are you visiting Costa Rica with your family and want to provide your kids with a unique educational experience? Check out KSTR’s Kids Camp held every Saturday at the Hotel Mono Azul, KSTR’s headquarters in Manuel Antonio. We host anywhere from 8-15 kids (locals, expats, and visitors) each week at our camp where the goal is to empower the future generation and help kids realize that they too can make a difference in the world today. Our kids learn the importance of the environment and what they can do to help protect the local rainforest and its inhabitants. We begin with a little bit about the history of KSTR and our efforts, followed by a different lesson plan each week presented by our camp leaders–for example, endangered species, renew, reuse, recycle (the 3 R’s), or what happens to a plastic bottle when it’s not recycled but tossed into the rainforest or ocean. Occasional field trips give our kids the opportunity to work hands on to help educate the public and save the planet. They may distribute our “11 Reasons Not to Feed the Monkeys” pamphlets to visitors at the National Park or learn about sustainable farming by planting fruits and vegetables at the nearby Blue Banyan Inn. During our arts and crafts time, the kids paint rocks, design bookmarks, and/or make bracelets and earrings, which are all sold in the KSTR store, where 100% of the proceeds are donated to help save the rainforest.

Camp is from 9-12am every Saturday, and any child age 5 to 18 can attend. A minimal charge of 2500 colones ($5) for a day at camp includes snack and transportation, and all money goes to further KSTR’s goals. Email us to sign up your kid today!