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Kids Saving the Rainforest, December 2014

By Volunteer Kerstin Johnson, Assistant Principal at Nimitz Elementary School, Cupertino, Ca

This summer I spent two hours a day observing a young tamandua (anteater) search for food in a cecropia tree. When she climbed to 20 meters, I felt like a proud mom watching her baby walk for the first time. This anteater arrived at the Kids Saving the Rainforest clinic after she was orphaned and found in palm trees. In a few weeks, she will be re-released to the wild to live a full, natural life. If not for a sanctuary and rescue clinic like Kids Saving the Rainforest, she might not have survived.
Kids Saving the Rainforest Logo


Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR) is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 in Manuel Antonio by two school children, Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone with a roadside painted rock stand. In its early years, KSTR focused on saving the local endangered titi (squirrel) monkeys by supporting the installation of monkey bridges. Today, KSTR has grown and now is home to a wildlife sanctuary and licensed rescue center.

This was my third summer volunteering with Kids Saving the Rainforest. Why do I keep coming back? Easy- no other experience in my life has brought me closer to nature.

Last year, a juvenile capuchin monkey was found at Tulemar having been burned on her forearm and leg by electrical wires. She spent a few months in recovery at KSTR and I had the chance to participate in her release. With the help of the Tulemar staff and a couple of aborted trips, we were able to find her troop. As Sam Trull, KSTR’s Wildlife Manager, opened the carrier her family descended from the trees, greeting her with calls. In the blink of an eye, she scurried up a tree and was gone, the troop following protectively behind her. Seeing an injured wild animal reintroduced successfully to her family was an incredible experience.

In my summers here, I’ve witnessed the release of an adult raccoon, helped hand feed a young toucan, enriched enclosures for hawks, raccoons, and marmosets, clicker-trained two tamarin monkeys, collected hibiscus flowers for baby sloths, and witnessed medical care for a wide variety of animals. There is no better way to say it: This organization does amazing work.

These are all experiences I would never get the chance to have at home. I bring back the stories and renewed appreciation for the rainforest and all of its creatures to the elementary schools where I work to spread KSTR’s message. My students have fundraised to plant trees in the rainforest (they chose cacao trees- go figure!) and check in with me years later to inquire on the health of the animals and plants.

So, each summer, as I make the trip from San Jose, California to San Jose, Costa Rica I look forward to discovering something new about this amazing country and its wild creatures through the supportive lens of Kids Saving the Rainforest.

If you are interested in visiting the sanctuary, tours take place Sun, Mon, Wed and Fri 9am-11am. Please contact: volunteer@kidssavingtherainforest.org for more information or go to kidssavingtherainforest.org. If you would like to support our program, please go to: www.razoo.com/story/Kids-Saving-The-Rainforest.

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