Join our professional internship program and live a truly unique experience of intense learning and growth. This multifaceted program was intentionally created to provide participants with a detailed, whole-system skill-building curriculum in Costa Rica’s most stunning private wildlife refuge.

We teach using a whole system approach so interns learn more than just how to farm naturally or how to build a wooden house. They approach these questions from many different angles and live them daily at RDS. Interns’ abilities and understanding progress throughout the program so that they can carry them on no matter what they choose to do afterwards.

Here’s some of what you’ll be doing and learning during the 3 months:

Farm life

Experience the life on the farm and participate in the fascinating daily routine, surrounded by nature and beauty all around, including:

  • Animal care – caring for the free-ranging poultry (chickens, turkeys, etc), horsemanship and horse care, cow milking, etc
  • Care of the various crops, gardens and fields, build up and maintain soil health and fertility to support harmonious ecosystems, and more.
  • Communal meal making! Cooking incredible, nutrient-rich, healthy food with the best ingredients in the world. We use waste wood from our natural building projects and cob ovens to cook – which makes the food taste even better and the experience truly unforgettable. You’ll also learn everything there is to know in the fascinating world of Farm to Table: From harvesting, to milking, collecting eggs, food preparation, traditional food processing, food preservation (such as fermenting), nutrition (Weston A. Price principles) and a whole lot more. Oh and yes, you’ll make tortillas too.
  • Tree planting, trail maintenance, wildlife and habitat preservation, and so much more.

Natural building

Build a natural house from the ground up! Interns take on the fascinating journey of building a structure from the ground up using natural materials and construction methods.

Through hands-on practical experience, as well as some organized class time and talks, you’ll learn to:

  • Understand the fundamentals of what makes up a structure – foundations, frame, and roof – and of how to design one.
  • Choose the appropriate site for the project and understand the criteria that comes into play including drainage, topography, exposure to weather and to the elements, low impact on the natural surrounding, etc. Includes a lot of exploring, observations, and endless fun!
  • Understand what natural materials are and how to choose the right ones for a natural building project.
  • Become proficient in knowing various types of wood and their different uses. Explore the virgin forest all around and experience what it means to live and breathe sustainable forestry here at RDS’s unique private wildlife refuge, bordered by Costa Rica’s newest and most unique national park.
  • Harvest wood and experience RDS’s no-impact animal-powered forestry.
  • Work with wood – from cutting timber to making timber framing cuts and joints, to furniture making, and much more.
  • Make cob (a natural building material made of clay, fiber, and sand) and become familiar with other natural building materials such as bamboo, stones, straw, and more.

This unique internship opportunity will give you the skills and experience to know how to build naturally not only in the tropics but practically anywhere since you’ll acquire the tools to understand your local natural surroundings and make the best of them.

Integrative farming

At RDS we have a unique style of farming. Through the internship program you’ll experience first-hand and develop the skills to grow food naturally. Our alternative agriculture happens in the gorgeous mountains of tropical Costa Rica, but the principles can be applied anywhere. You’ll understand what permaculture, biodynamic, and organic farming mean on the ground as well as agroforestry and other methods. We practice horse and man powered farming and manage the farm as a whole integrated system where wildlife and biodiversity is respected.

RDS’s farm is a multi-sided and highly diverse operation where you’ll learn to:

  • Care for free-ranging poultry, including creating the conditions for a healthy and fulfilling life such as pasture maintenance and planting, shelters, feed, etc. You’ll also experience chickens and turkeys reproducing and the natural breeding that takes place. You’ll learn how to select and kill a chicken and prepare it for cooking – making use of every single part of the bird.
  • Care for horses (particularly in the tropics), work and play with them through natural horsemanship. Feed horses, wash them, manage rotational grazing and paddock systems, and learn natural ways to deal with and treat problems as they occur (such as parasites for example which are common in horses).
  • Build up and retain soil health and fertility without any commercial fertilizer or other product (not even “organic”).
  • Plant, care for, and harvest hundreds of vegetables, staple crops, and fruit trees.
  • Become familiar with companion planting, rotations, and other field, garden, and orchard management methods.
  • Work with the seasons and understand the rational effects of the moon cycles on plants and trees.

RDS’s interns are more than students. Through RDS’s programs they become empowered to live differently and develop the practical skills to “make it happen”.

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