Business Plan Development with Environmental Conservation Organization in Costa Rica

Position Overview

Eligibility Criteria

Open to all UBC students with an interest in environmental conservation and restoration, as well as experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • Business Plan/Model Development
  • Accounting and Financial Planning

Partner Organization

Students will work alongside Roberto Solano Cordero, the lead biologist at the organization, Matapalo Sea Turtle Conservation in Matapalo, Costa Rica.  The project will encompass organization activity that takes place on multiple sites, including along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Roberto is a biologist by profession although he also carries other titles, including educator. Roberto oversees projects in sea turtle conservation, as well as the conservation of other local species such as sloths. Additionally, he trains and educates locals and visitors to his organization on sea turtle ecology and biological management. In the past, Roberto worked for the National Maritime Patrol, the National Coast Guard Service, the Ministry of Education, as well as different associations and non-governmental organizations dedicated to conservation. Roberto has been a teacher, naturalist guide for tourism, environmental consultant, project manager, volunteer coordinator, and youth leader. He strongly believes that experiential learning is the best way to gain meaningful work experience that will help shape students’ future career paths.

Project Description

Matapalo Sea Turtle Conservation is an organization, dedicated to environmental conservation. The staff at Matapalo are experts in conservation, but need assistance in managing the business side of the organization. As a long-time partner of the Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE), Matapalo Sea Turtle Conservation has been working with a group of UBC students (who have been working remotely from UBC) this year to develop a long-term business model for the organization.

Successful applicants of this program will partake in a three month international service learning placements at the Matapalo Sea Turtle Conservation organization, during which they will carry on the work that the team of UBC students worked on remotely throughout the fall and winter. At Matapalo Sea Turtle Conservation, students will help design and implement a sustainable business model, while assisting with the completion of the 2017 financial report and also participating in the conservation work of the organization. In this placement, students will gain valuable work experience while exploring how external actors can respectfully engage with local organizations to promote sustainable development.


You will live on site at Matapalo Sea Turtle Conservation in hostel-style accommodations.

Program Dates

Date Activity
February 25, 2017 Applications accepted until full OR until 11:59pm on Sunday February 25th, whichever comes first.
March – April Orientation and pre-departure learning sessions (all successful applicants will be expected to be in attendance at all sessions)
May – August 12 weeks of fieldwork in an International Service Learning placement
Mid-September – Early October Re-entry debrief and Public Engagement Event
**Please note these dates may be adjusted, but will be confirmed prior to offer.


Program Costs: The costs below are per student. Exact program costs are not confirmed at this time but will be within the following ranges.

Location: Costa Rica

Program Fee: $4,600-$4,800

Funding opportunities: $1000 bursaries available for students with a 70% in 24 credits (with no fail/incomplete) in W2016.

Pre-Departure Overview

The pre-departure learning program is designed to prepare you for an international service learning placement. This will include:

  • Pre-departure learning sessions taking place over the academic term leading up to departure, led by staff and community development professionals.
  • Creation of a learning and development plan
  • Participant-led events/presentations
  • Facilitated meetings with your placement team to explore learning topics

Post-Placement Overview

You will participate in post-placement activities in Sept – Oct 2018, including:

  1. A full day to debrief session
  2. Presentation at a Public Engagement Event

Additional Information

The program cost includes:

  • Pre-departure learning sessions at UBC
  • Room and board
  • Transportation from the airport to your placement site
  • Orientation in host country
  • In-session debrief and workshop part way through your placement
  • Reflection materials
  • Community partner management fee
  • Program management fee

*Fees may be adjusted before offer.

NOTE: The stated program fee does not include all expenses of the program. Students are responsible for all additional costs not included. These costs are: tuition, airfare, visas, vaccinations, local transportation while in country, transportation from the project site back to the airport at the end of the placement, personal items, and daily incidentals. You will also be required to bring your own laptop.

Selection Process

To apply please fill out and submit an online application. Successful applicants will be invited to an interview. After interviews, you will be notified of a decision; successful candidates will be sent an offer letter with further details on the program and detailed instructions on how to accept. You will have approximately one week after receiving the offer letter to accept and pay a program deposit. Your selection into the ISL program includes meeting eligibility requirements, as well as your initial application and your performance in the interview.

Don’t wait to apply, there are limited spaces available!