Stewardship Couples 2024: Las Tangaras Reserve, Mindo, Ecuador
Field: Protected Area Management
Discipline: Nature Conservation
Life Net Nature seeks generally fit, mature in character, and responsible couples with a history of working and living together. Safety awareness and skills in remote settings is key. Experience with montane wilderness settings and field biology are desirable. Applicants should have combined backgrounds in wilderness or remote property management, rugged hiking, ecotourism, conservation biology, small business management, marketing and related fields. They must be capable of stewarding and living at Reserva Las Tangaras for 165 days (an Ecuadorian 90-day tourist Visa plus extension with 2 weeks at end for your own adventuring, with various options within contract period to go elsewhere for a day or two). Comfort and experience with minor rock scrambling, cable bridges, narrow, steep, and muddy montane trails is required along with an adventurous spirit tempered by cautious awareness of own's own limits. Some experience with machetes and trail care needed, but we provide training.
January 3 to June 18, 2024
June 14 to December 1, 2024
Reserva Las Tangaras is a 51-hectare protected area, near Mindo, Ecuador, with mainly tropical montane forest cover. Wildlife include many endemic and endangered species of amphibians, birds, and mammals. The reserve is home to more than 350 bird species, including 25+ hummingbird species. It is a wonderland of tropical nature with much to be enjoyed and discovered by nature lovers.
New stewards overlap with out-going stewards or Dr. Becker for 3 days of training. Online communications with Dr. Dusti Becker provide back up. Monthly reports are required.
Qualifications include ability for both applicants to speak English and both applicants to communicate in Spanish with one applicant capable of intermediate or advanced skill, 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, 8) first aid training, 9) loads of common sense, and 10) a problem-solving and responsible attitude.
Duties include: taking care of and improving a 51-hectare property, including a two-story wooden lodge/cabin, and ~15 km trail system, and being able to manage the reserve with very limited supervision. We seek stewards who do more than just maintain; but will improve the cabin, trails, signs, and other infrastructure.
Access depends on caring for the entrance bridge over the Nambillo River, monitoring and repairing the gravity-feed water system, being on top of indoor plumbing and outdoor toilet maintenance, replacing and transporting gas tanks and supplies as needed to operate, taking care of reserve tools and purchasing new equipment required with approval and funding from Life Net Nature, managing research materials and data, doing inventories and upkeeping a small library. Stewards collect data on weather (daily), an Andean Cock-of-the Rock lek (weekly), hummingbird species at feeders (daily), Club-winged Manakins (weekly), 2 thrush species (opportunistically), and do camera trapping (optional), and make natural history observations to provide data on biodiversity at the reserve. Stewards maintain fresh sugar water in 3 hummingbird feeders at all times. Stewards skilled with birding, tally a monthly bird list (birds seen/heard during a given month), and upload “big day” lists and daily lists to the Las Tangaras eBird page. Stewards can maintain small organic gardens and agro-forestry projects and are expected to maintain or improve upon previous projects, update or make new interpretive materials for reserve visitors, do ecotourism promotion and provide guest-hosting services, and market online and in the Mindo area. Marketing and social media attract guests and allow stewards to earn additional income while at the reserve. Making Facebook, Instagram, and blog posts are aspects of stewardship that provide value added income to the stewards and the reserve.
As a buffer property for 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-housing and intensive “adventure” tourism activities such as ziplines, motorcycling, and trampling to visit waterfalls. Las Tangaras receives only light visitation by bird-watchers, nature enthusiasts, photographers, and tropical biology researchers and students. We want only moderate levels of eco-aware visitation. Contributions from visitors help sustain the reserve, and support the stewardship couple’s monthly stipend.
Stewards must be capable of:
1. Hosting international and local nature-oriented guests and visitors, maintaining a tidy and clean research station/guest cabin, preparing and selling meals and drinks to guests (with all proceeds from food and drink sales accrued by the stewardship couple).
2. Keeping financial records, setting realistic goals and completing management tasks including all communications, such as reservations via phone & online.
3. Maintaining the critical water system and all trails on the reserve, and especially the entrance bridge.
4. Improving trails and signage from the main road and throughout the reserve.
5. Sustaining gardens and orchards, and wildlife friendly plantings.
6. Using Excel & Word for monthly reports, updating and recording data.
7. Blogging, using social media, and having the computer skills 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 understand spoken Spanish. Both stewards must have advanced level skill with English.
The reserve is an incredible place to live. Research and photographic opportunities abound. Each year in December, 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 nature systems on the reserve. Reserve data are available to stewards for crafting scientific publications.
During the rainy season (January through end of April) stewards receive $400/month/couple as a partial cost-of-living stipend. From May to December, the high season, the stipend is $350. This is used for basic needs and for maintaining 3 hummingbird feeders with sugar water and stocking basic supplies to host guests. Stewards earn additional income by providing food and beverages and by providing guide services to visitors. Proceeds from guiding are split 50:50 between reserve and stewards. All food and beverage income is 100% retained by the stewards.
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 email@example.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 2024 opening immediately. We will interview top candidates when we have a nice pool of options, so don't delay. We expect to start interviews of top candidates in September 2023.