Student Groups

Hoja Nueva welcomes high school and college groups for both short and extended stays at our Research Center for Conservation and Collaboration. As a Peruvian nonprofit association, we have three main foci: wildlife and forest conservation, agroforestry research, and sustainable development. Volunteers and visitors are welcome to participate in some or all of our designated “teams” focusing on research regarding mammals, herpetofauna, cacao, tropical permaculture, sustainable development, and public health.

Visiting student groups will be split up into teams and rotate through these fields of work. Visitors will receive personal supervision within each team/field of work, by experienced field coordinators and researchers. They will also receive care and support from an experienced logistics and administration team based in both Seattle in the USA and in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. In addition to volunteer research days, we also designate one day a week to “tourist” days and exciting excursions (macaw and parrot clay-licks, mammal clay-licks, boat and pack raft rides, mini-expeditions, community social events, jungle lookout points, and more).

Depending upon length of stay, training will include: health and safety; basic jungle survival, basic ecology, basic permaculture, trail use and orienteering, impacts and challenges affecting the forests in Madre de Dios, research and conservation solutions for Madre de Dios, cacao cultivation, water and soil research, human health surveys, species identification, conservation research, wildlife monitoring (track identification, camera trapping, surveys), forest conservation, reforestation, community engagement, green building, sustainability, wildlife photography, and wildlife management.

Mammal Team

Hoja Nueva’s mammal team focuses on monitoring animals in a non-invasive way through line transects, footprint traps, and trail cameras. Trail systems are walked each morning before breakfast, checking for mammals and recording sightings. Mammal footprint traps are set in specified locations and checked daily to record any animal occurrence. Our primary method is camera trapping- we have caught every terrestrial and semi-aquatic mammal on trail cameras here at Hoja Nueva.

Here are some regular mammal conservation research team tasks:

• Walk approximately 4 km of trail systems slowly at 5:30 am to check for mammals and take down data of sightings

• Create and check mammal footprint traps daily

• Maintain existing trails and on occasion open new ones

• Set up or move existing trail cameras and download images after several days

• Record all sighting and camera trap data into Hoja Nueva database

• Walk at night about 2 km after dinner to census nocturnal mammals

Herpetofauna Team

Hoja Nueva’s herp team consists of experienced reptile and amphibian researchers. As part of the team, volunteers will participate in both day and night surveys using line-transects and searching specific habitats such as swamps and bamboo thickets.

Here are some regular herpetofauna conservation research team tasks:

• Monitor current research plots for herpetofauna in the late morning after breakfast

• Walk to (and through) swamp, stream and lakeside habitats to search for species that might not be found within research plots, especially at night!

• Build and maintain herpetofauna pitfall traps and check them daily

• Maintain existing transects and on occasions open new ones with machetes

• Assist in the careful handling of snakes, frogs, lizards and sometimes caiman and turtles in order to identify, process and photograph them before release

• Enter data of the above research into the project computers and assist the coordinator with analysis

Copyright Sam Zwicker

Agroforestry Team

Hoja Nueva practices sustainable agroforestry and cacao production on two of our sixty hectares that provides a framework for other farms in the area. Both Lucerna and the RioPiedras grow cacao, and we help facilitate relationships between our farmers and buyers in the United States. We are working to create a sustainable, just system focused on the direct relationship between the farmer, buyer, and consumer, and one that will provide livable wages to those in participating communities, which all begins with on-the-ground research in our chacras.

Here are some regular agroforestry research team tasks:

• Assist Hoja Nueva staff by taking cacao growth measurements, microclimate and soil data, and recording animal sightings in the chacras.

• Work the fields in our sustainable cacao plots, making biochar, pruning, grafting, and applying bio- insecticides

• Take a day touring the surrounding farms and tasting cacao fruits within the Hoja Nueva RioPiedras Co-op

• Learn about the different varieties of cacao within RioPiedras, what their habitat requirements are, and traditional growing techniques

• Pod-to-Bar: learn how to make chocolate, from picking the fruit to grinding the beans into a mix of your favorite flavors with a family in Lucerna

Sustainable Development Team

Volunteers will assist in co-creating and/or participating in development plans with Hoja Nueva and the surrounding communities. Please contact us in advance to see which projects will be a priority during your stay. Below is a list of our current and/or continuous sustainability projects at Hoja Nueva, and in both Lucerna and RioPiedras.

Here are some regular sustainable development research team projects:

• Rainwater systems

• Slow sand and charcoal filtration

• Household biodigestors

• Composting toilets

• Water quality testing and monitoring

• Household waste audits; garbage sorting and collection

• Reforestation and restoring; planting

• Biochar

• Eco Bricks

• Fermented Bio fertilizer/pesticide

• Stingless beehive and honey collection

Need more info?

Contact us at for our student group brochure, and to connect with past teachers and students!

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