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  • Reserve Stewardship Couple in Ecuador

    Guest Dr. Dusti Becker
    • Employer: Life Net Nature
      Location: Reserva las Tangaras, Mindo, Ecuador
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 09/30/2022
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    Stewardship Couple: Las Tangaras Reserve, Mindo, Ecuador

    Sector: Global Search

    Field: Protected Area Management

    Discipline: Nature Conservation 

    Life Net Nature seeks a responsible, young but mature, couple with a history of working and living together in remote settings. Applicants should have backgrounds in wilderness camping and research, or remote rustic property management, along with combined experiences in ecotourism, conservation biology, small business management, marketing and related fields, and be capable of stewarding and living at Reserva Las Tangaras, in a tropical montane forest, for 165 days (an Ecuadorian 90-day tourist Visa plus one extension with 2 weeks for your own adventuring after serving as reserve stewards).


    Contract dates:


    January 10 to June 24, 2023


    Reserva Las Tangaras is a 50-hectare protected area, near Mindo, Ecuador, dominated by mature tropical montane forest. Wildlife includes many Choco and Andean endemics and endangered species of amphibians, birds, and mammals. The reserve is home to more than 325 bird species, including 25+ hummingbird and tanager species. 


    New stewards overlap with out-going stewards by 2-4 days for training on site.  Online communications with Dr. Dusti Becker, the supervisor from Life Net Nature, are available as needed.  Monthly reports sent to Life Net Nature are required. 


    Qualifications include ability for both applicants to speak English and at least one applicant to communicate very well in Spanish (intermediate to advanced with evidence), and one person with an undergraduate degree in a topic related to the position (ecology, biology, ecotourism, business & marketing, natural resources management, conservation, etc). We seek applicants with experience in: 1) field ornithology or biology (ideally some tropical experience), 2) ecotourism and hospitality services, 3) guiding or nature interpretation, 4) interest/experience related to simple bio-regional living including organic gardening, solar equipment maintenance, and composting, 5) wilderness and leave-no-trace camping ethics, 6) carpentry, plumbing, and building skills, 7) small business and financial management experience including marketing and social media skills, 8) first aid training, 9) loads of common sense, and 10) a problem-solving and responsible attitude.

    Duties include taking care of the 50-hectare property, cabin, and trail system as if they were your own, as if you truly love and care about the place and its future. Being able to plan and manage the reserve with very limited supervision. Specifically: maintain and improve cabin and trails and infrastructure, monitor and repair entrance bridge, water and septic systems; transport gas tanks and supplies as needed to operate; take care of and use reserve tools and purchase new equipment as needed with approval from Dr. Becker; steward research materials and data; do inventories and upkeep a small library. Stewards collect data on weather (daily), record data about Andean Cock-of-the Rock and Club-winged Manakin leks (weekly), record hummingbird species at feeders (daily), and keep track of two thrush species (daily). Stewards must maintain the sugar water in at least three hummingbird feeders. Stewards skilled with birding, tally a monthly bird list (birds seen/heard during a given month), and are encouraged to upload “big day” lists to the Las Tangaras eBird page. Stewards sustain small organic gardens and agro-forestry projects and are expected to maintain and improve upon previous projects, update or make new interpretive materials for reserve visitors, do ecotourism promotion and provide guest-hosting services, and do marketing in Mindo area. Marketing is critical for sustaining the reserve and for earning additional income while stewarding the reserve. 

    As a buffer property on the edge of the Mindo-Namibillo Bosque Protector, Reserva Las Tangaras provides critical habitat for wildlife at elevations typically deforested for agriculture, and more recently cleared for vacation-rentals and intensive “adventure” tourism activities such as ziplines, motorcycling, and excessive trail use by waterfall enthusiasts. Las Tangaras receives light visitation by bird-watchers, nature enthusiasts, photographers, and tropical biology researchers and students. We want only moderate levels of eco-aware visitation. However, contributions from visitors sustain the reserve, provide the stewardship couple’s monthly stipend, and allow improvements.  


    Stewards should be able to:

    1. Host international and local nature-oriented guests and visitors, maintain a tidy and clean research station/guest cabin, prepare and sell meals and drinks to guests (with all proceeds from food and drink sales accrued by the stewardship couple as a voluntary hosting service - not an official business). 

    2. Keep financial records, set realistic goals and complete management tasks including all reservations via phone & online communications, or in person. 

    3. Maintain the dynamic gravity-feed water system and all trails on the reserve, especially the entrance bridge. 

    4. Improve trails and signage from the main road and throughout the reserve. 

    5. Sustain gardens and orchards, and wildlife friendly plantings. 

    6. Using Excel & Word for monthly reports, updating and recording data. 

    7. Have good blogging, social media, and computer skill for doing: monthly blog with attractive photos, submission of Excel data sheets, monthly reports via email to Dr. Becker, email thank you notes to guests, contribute lists to eBird, and post interesting and alluring photos and facts on the reserve Facebook and Instagram sites. 

    8.  One of the stewards must have at least intermediate to advanced-level skills with spoken and written Spanish.  Both stewards must have advanced level with English.

    The reserve is an incredible place to live.  Research and photographic opportunities abound. Each year in December and July or August, Life Net Nature volunteer teams monitor and research bird communities to raise funds for the protected area. Reserve stewards, scientists and students can make discoveries about the complex and diverse biological nature on the reserve. Reserve data are available to stewards for crafting scientific publications. 

    Stewards receive $300/month/pair as a cost-of-living stipend to be used to sustain selves and cover basic reserve costs such as maintaining hummingbird feeders with sugar water and stocking basic supplies to host guests. Stewards typically earn additional income by providing food and beverages (using the cost-of-living stipend as start up funding), and by providing guide services to visitors (proceeds of guiding are split between reserve and stewards). 

    To Apply:

    As one PDF document, please send 1) a joint cover letter expressing interest and qualifications of each person, 2) a professional resume (CV) for both applicants, and 3) three references per applicant with email & phone contact info. Email application materials to Dr. Dusti Becker at dustizuni@yahoo.com.  If selected for an interview, Dr. Becker will contact you.  Follow up with her to find out your status as we receive many applications each year. Dr. Becker will begin reviewing applications for the 2023 opening immediately, but candidates will most likely be contacted for interviews in September 2022.  Don't delay. 


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