Tropical Ecology Research Internship

founded in 2010
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Coordinator | Olivia
Coordinator | Olivia
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Break free from your classroom routine and gain hands-on field experience alongside award-winning experts.
Design a wildlife project that you're truly passionate about and take control of every step of your own scientific project!
Make lifelong friends from all over the world that are just as passionate about wildlife and conservation as you are, while gaining insights into the open and laid-back Paraguayan culture.
Contribute to long-term conservation in a country with a record of extreme habitat loss.
Publish your first paper on the highly understudied flora and fauna of Paraguay. Boost your resume and kick-start your science career!
Step out of the classroom and design your own wildlife research project, while contributing to long-term conservation of highly endangered habitats in Paraguay! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

Our internship program provides young biologists an opportunity to step out of the classroom and into the field, gaining hands-on experience running a research project of their own design.

About Para La Tierra:

Fundación Para La Tierra is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of fragile habitats in Paraguay. Our vision is to change the course of Paraguayan environmentalism by inspiring people to appreciate the value of nature. We are working together with the Paraguayan government, local community members, national and international NGOs, and national and international volunteers and interns to protect Paraguay’s unique environment.

Para La Tierra achieves this mission through three primary programs: Scientific Research, Community Engagement, and Environmental Education.

Based in Paraguay, the ‘heart of South America,’ we are the country’s only year-round research station. Over the past 12 years, we have published over 130 peer-reviewed articles and discovered more than 10 new species. Along the way, over 500 interns have helped contribute to the better understanding of Paraguay’s understudied habitats.

About the Tropical Ecology Research Internship:

Before arriving, you will be challenged to come up with a research project that you are passionate about. You will review relevant literature and create a suitable methodology with the support of our intern-supervisor.

Available topics include:

  • Primatology
  • Herpetology
  • Entomology
  • Ornithology
  • Mammalogy
  • Museum Studies
  • Freshwater Ecology
  • Habitat Monitoring
  • and more!

Once in-country, you will be trained in the field techniques required for your project. Whether its mist-netting for birds in the early hours of the morning, fishing at mid-day or staying out late hunting for frogs, we will make sure you are confident in the methodology needed to move your research forward. Towards the end of the stay, you will give a final presentation in which you share the results of your study with the rest of the research team.

Our internship program is designed to give young scientists the opportunity to take control of every step of a scientific project. From conception to completion, YOU are in the driver seat!

Typical day

Daily activities will vary depending on your internship focus area, season, local events, and other factors. A typical day for a tropical ecology research intern might look like this:
  • 05:00: Wake up and prepare yourself some coffee, tea, porridge or bread with the utensils provided by us.
  • 05:30: Our Intern Coordinator will drive you to one of our fieldsites outside of town with a group of other interns.
  • 06:00: Arrive at our fieldsite just before sunset and start your walk to your study area.
  • 06:30: Start your data collection, whether it's taking focal samples of the Black-and-Gold Howler Monkeys, going birding, checking the pitfall traps you set out the night before for frogs or your sherman traps for small mammals, catching butterflies or going cast-netting.
  • 11:30: Meet the other interns back at the car and make your way back to the house.
  • 12:30: Enjoy a delicious lunch, prepared by our amazing Paraguayan cooks Rocio & Delia.
  • 13:30: Time for siesta! Get some sun or take a nap in the cool dorm.
  • 15:00: Work on your data entry or paper in one of our shared working spaces or head back out to one of your field sites.
  • 19:00: It's dinner time! Have a look at what Rocio & Delia have prepared for us today.
  • 20:00: Enjoy you free time with the other interns: Head to the local plaza with frequent cultural events and local musicians, have a drink at one of the nearby bars or go stargazing at the beautiful riverside.
This schedule will vary a lot depending on your project and on the fieldsites you're using. Most projects will require you to go out around sunrise and sunset (varying times depending on season), but you will for example have to go out after sunset if you want to catch frogs or during nighttime if you're studying bats. While our Intern Coordinator will drive groups of interns to the fieldsites that are further out of town, you can bike to the closer fieldsites and even walk to the city sites.

Free-time activities

The quaint city of Pilar is the capital of Ñeembucú, tucked away in a quiet corner of Paraguay. The 'City of Birds' doesn't get its name from nothing, you will be able to spot a multitude of bird species when strolling through the streets. And it's also home to a myriad of other animals: The black-and-gold howler monkeys call the backyards their homes, toads roam the streets after sunrise, and you will just have to keep your eyes open to spot a neotropical otter at the river site.
But of course not only wildlife calls Pilar its home, the lovely Pilarenses are a laid-back and friendly community, that will warmly welcome you into their little paradise. The lively plaza of Pilar, only three blocks from PLT, offers the great opportunity to directly jump into Paraguayan culture: meeting point to most Pilarenses, you will be able to watch one of the many cultural performances that are organised regularly at night or join the locals in drinking a refreshing Tereré. Another two blocks from our home, the rivers Río Paraguay and the Arroyo Ñeembucú that encircle Pilar offer multiple free time activities: The newly built Costanera along the Río Paraguay invites you to watch breathtaking sunsets over Argentina or join the Pilarenses in their evening walks and runs. Along the Arroyo Ñeembucú you can find a variety of nice little beaches to soak up the sun and jump in the cool water, a definite must during the hot summer months! With the regular ferries across the Río Paraguay, Argentina is only a 30-min boat ride away and weekend trips to Resistencia or Corrientes a fun adventure. Regular buses to Asunción and Encarnacion offer opportunities to spend some time in bigger cities or to travel to one of the 7 Natural World Wonders, the Iguazú Falls at the intersection of Paraguay, Argentina and Brasil.
Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Required Documents
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by Para La Tierra

Para La Tierra charges interns to cover costs of room and board. The price includes all living costs during their stay with us and a personal pick-up upon arriving. Interns receive three meals a day, unlimited coffee, tea, yerba mate and diluting juice, as well as a bed in shared accommodation with hot showers and access to WiFi. It also includes organized activities & trips for our interns such as barbeques, game nights, beach trips and much more.
The fee further covers assistance with project development and execution, the use of PLT’s scientific equipment, transportation to field sites, administrative costs associated with the stay, and a small contribution to Para La Tierra's conservation and education projects.
Weekly basis pro rata payments are accepted in special cases. There is a 25% discount for South American nationals.

Interns will stay in our Centro IDEAL, with dorms between 2 - 7 interns and volunteers. All rooms have closet space, electricity outlets, and WIFI (reaches most places in the house). Rooms offer either an en-suite bathroom or bathrooms across the corridor with hot-water showers.
Our lovely cleaning ladies provide basic cleaning services and fresh bed linen once a week. They will also do your laundry on three laundry days a week for 20.000 Guaraní per bag (~$3)
Centro IDEAL offers a big lounge area with a pool table and a private bar, run by our staff, as well as a backyard where we have meals together and where you can soak up some sun.
Smaller shops, cafes, bars and restaurants are within 300 m walking distance. Bigger shops and more restaurants can be reached by a 15-min walk or a 5 min-bike ride.
For an extra 20% you can book a private room.
Dorm Room
Food & Beverages
We offer three varied meals a day at 7 days a week. Interns can prepare their own breakfast with utensils provided which include oats, fruits, bread, jam, dulce de leche, coffee, tee, milk, and eggs for Sundays. Lunch and dinner are prepared by our two cooks Delia and Rocio and consist of a mix of Paraguayan and international food. They will cater to most dietary requirements, so don't hesitate to ask!
Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Silvio Pettirossi International Airport (ASU) in Asuncion. We assist you to find cheap flights to Paraguay.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Paraguay provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Paraguay you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Paraguay.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

The application period is rolling and there are no start or end dates, so the trip can be organized to suit your schedule and your project. You must be available to stay for a minimum of three months.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
12 - 50 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
12 weeks (min. stay)
15 weeks
50 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$295 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Para La Tierra will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Para La Tierra during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Para La Tierra cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Para La Tierra.

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Tropical Ecology Research Internship

Step out of the classroom and design your own wildlife research project, while contributing to long-term conservation of highly endangered habitats in Paraguay!


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