"I had a really great time and I gained so much experience"
Cierra Stokes from USA volunteered for 6 weeks
I loved it, I grew so much as a person and I made a lot of friends from all over the world! The first thing I noticed about Statia was how friendly everyone was, everyone would wave and talk to you. There is so much history there it’s crazy, I saw so many pieces of the past everywhere like cannons, old buildings, and when scuba diving I saw shipwrecks. Basically once a week I helped with beading and pit tagging iguanas, and I also helped monitor the Red-billed Tropicbird nests for chicks and eggs. I helped with garden and trail maintenance pretty frequently as well. I also was allowed to help in the Marine Park one day at the end of my stay, which was very cool. The permanent employees were great, they were super fun but also taught me a lot.
I wish I could have spent a little more time doing the wildlife projects like with the birds, iguanas, and turtles, but the island is still recovering a bit from a Hurricane and have a lot of maintenance and stuff to catch up on in the botanical gardens and on the trails, so I get why I was needed in other places. I assisted in a wide variety of stuff which I really liked because it rarely got boring. The project when outlined online said there would be fairly frequent turtle patrols, and while I only went on one, but it was easily one of my favorite experiences. We found a nest and guarded some hatchlings on their way to the ocean, which was so unforgettable!
Statia feels like a very secluded island, there aren’t many restaurants or other things to do that most people are probably are used to, so you have to be prepared to give that stuff up for a while. It’s also much more fun overall when there are more volunteers and interns in the house with you. The advice I read from past volunteers was quite true, I took older clothes and threw away a lot of them after the project because they got pretty trashed from Statia living. But I was prepared for that so it was fine! The grocery store is not big and does not have a great selection of produce, so again it would be something you’d have to be prepared for and get used to. Overall though, I had a really great time and I gained so much experience, and I am very glad I went!
"Statia is an incredibly beautiful island and I already miss it every day"
Zara, from Ireland, joined for 3 months
I had a wonderful experience as a volunteer. It was very rich and varied, each week was different from the one before. I did maintenance tasks in the Botanical Garden (such as weed-cutting and wall-building), cleared forest trails in the Quill, painted signs, helped with nocturnal land crab patrols, participated in bird surveys, and helped to put together material for schools to teach children about Statia’s endangered native iguana species, the Lesser Antillean Iguana. Best of all, I went on regular iguana patrols, helping to catch, tag and relocate iguanas to more suitable habitat. I fell in love with the species completely and still can’t break the habit of looking up at trees, trying to spot them in the foliage, even though I’m far outside their range by now!
Most of my work was with the terrestrial team, but I also got the opportunity to help out in the Marine Park now and again as a diver, participating in coral restoration work and doing maintenance tasks on mooring lines at the various dive sites around the island. I also built a database of survey information about public perceptions of nature on Statia.
I learned so much from the project staff (particularly from the Rangers, Jobo and François) and from the other volunteers and interns, and I’m grateful for the trust that Clarisse, the Director, placed in me by allowing me to participate in so many different areas. The only thing that I regret is that sea turtle monitoring was not part of the experience, as I’d hoped it would be – but I arrived in October, so perhaps the lateness of the season was a factor. Statia is an incredibly beautiful island and I already miss it every day.
"Enjoy the Caribbean lifestyle, protect and help a natural reserve, meet amazing people"
Sarah Perche, from France, volunteered for 1 month
I am very happy about my volunteering. I spent an amazing month in Statia, which was too short. I did several tasks into the Natural Park: marine and terrestrial. I helped with the Iguana patrol, inside the Botanical garden, checking the trails and during the summer week with the local kids. But as a marine volunteer, I was helping mostly in the Marine reserve. It was a really good field experiment for a marine biologist. I got an overview of the management of the natural park. The people are nice and very friendly.
Every morning you are on the deck, and during the afternoon you took a nap or snorkelling to see turtles or you can work also with the rangers if you want. You need to be prepared to the heat, carrying water around with you and the mosquitoes. So if you want to enjoy the Caribbean lifestyle, protect and help a natural reserve, meet amazing people, diving on beautiful dive site. I recommend you to join this project in the north of the Caribbean.
"I would definitely recommend to anybody that wants to go out of their comfort zone"
It was an awesome experience, I would do it again in an instant. I got to meet some very cool and interesting people, both local or expats on the island. The park rangers were more than friendly with me and the other volunteers or interns, making an effort to make us feel part of everything they were doing. Even though I don’t have a background in biology or marine sciences, I felt very much included in everything they did, learning bit by bit from everybody I interacted with.
I really enjoyed the rides with the truck around the island, whether we were going to chase down iguanas, go and maintain the Botanical Garden, clean the beach of garbage or go on a beautiful Hike on the Quill or Boven Hill. Every view point offered beautiful “pictures” of the Island and its surroundings. I was lucky and the rainy season was just arriving in Oct/ Nov, so I appreciated every moment I could sit on the beach, have long snorkeling dives or just sit in the hammock and read a lot.
The Island, even if it is small, definitely has its benefits – all the locals are very very friendly, we were not afraid to just leave the cars or the house door open :), the shops are in walking range of the Intern House.
The conditions in the house are not those of a 4-star hotel, but I didn’t go there for that, rather for the quiet and peace, the sun, the ocean and the sea, the nature and all the experience of leaving Europe for a whole 2 months.
I appreciate you and this program for helping me have this experience, I would definitely recommend you and your team to anybody that wants to go out of their comfort zone and experience life and other cultures.
"There was always something to see, the view to St. Kitts from the garden or the tropical vegetation inside the Quill crater"
Oliver Selmoni from Switzerland
I volunteered at STENAPA one month between July and August. We were the first volunteers staying at the new house, which I guess changed a lot the way of living the island. The house is placed just above the Carribean beach. The location is great, close to everything, you can go to the office, to the dive shops or to town in 5 minutes (we were given bikes). The house has 3 bedrooms, livingroom, kitchen, bathrooom and everything is pretty comfortable. There is a huge garden were you can enjoy BBQing with a stunning view of the bay. Volunteers and interns live together at the house with Foxy the dog and Vinny the cat (lovely pets).
Volunteers work the morning from Monday to Friday. You have to be motivated in doing the work, it isn’t difficult and volunteers aren’t expected to rush. At the botanical garden, we worked basically as gardeners, which was nice because we could see the results of our work. The work on the trails consists in cutting everything that is not supposed to be on the trails. What I enjoyed the most about these two projects was the chance of working in wonderful places in total freedom. There was always something nice to see, could that be the view to St. Kitts from the garden or the tropical vegetation inside the crater of the Quill. The turtle patrol is nice as well, of course you have to be lucky.
The afternoons we spent much of our time at the beach sunbathing, drinking, snorkeling or diving. The beach is very close (1 minute in bike), never crowded, the sea is warm and quiet, with lots of animals and stuff to see. I did the open water certificate at the dive shop. There are great dives and you can see again lots of stuff (from shipwrecks to sharks).
The weekends we hung out to the “downtown” of Statia (10 minutes in bike). The downtown consists in three or four bars where you can go drinking, dancing, karaoke and so on. The people from Statia are really nice and friendly. It would be pretty impossible to argue, people were pretty chill. There are not many tourists but when you easily find people from Europe or USA at the beach in afternoons or Friday night downtown (some works at the dive shops or at the archeological sites).
To sum up, I had a great time in Statia. Of course, you have to give up some comforts (cold showers, always feeling sweaty and dirty, mosquitoes) but it’s all worth it.
"The reefs along the shoreline, near the office, were amazing to visit daily"
Originally I was quite worried about catching flights and making my way to Statia but once I had arrived it was smooth sailing. The volunteers were very welcoming and most of the islanders were open to get to know you which meant it was quite easy to feel involved. As I wasn’t working during the afternoons this gave a good opportunity to improve my swimming and learn how to snorkel. The reefs along the shoreline, near the office, were amazing to visit daily as you would always see different things.
I was upset that the sea turtles were not nesting during the time I was there, however seeing them in the water made up for this. I enjoyed helping out with the summer club and meeting the local children, even though some of them could be a hassle!
I felt this was a good investment and was a good choice as my first major trip away. Although a months stay was a good amount of time, I could have easily opted to stay longer had I not needed to be back in England.
"The nature on the island, on the quill, on boven, in the marine park was amazing"
My time on Statia was too short. After 3 weeks on the island I really started to feel at home and enjoy myself, but then I had to leave a week later! Living in the Botanical Garden was great, I spent much of my time lying in a hammock watching hummingbirds and lizards. The garden is a fantastic place and there is a good opportunity to work on it in a personal project, doing anything that takes your fancy that you think will be good. The staff and interns are very open to new ideas. I worked on trails which is good exercise in the baking heat, clearing the way and carrying signs, and I also helped with species surveys, birds and butterflies. It was a shame I was not there for the turtle season, but there is still so much to do. As a volunteer you have the afternoons off, and quite often I would hike ’round the mountain’ to the office to check emails, then to the beach for snorkelling etc. Statia is a strange place but I liked it a lot. The nature on the island, on the quill, on boven, in the marine park was amazing- you really get to see a lot.