Kids Saving the Rainforest

KSTR – July 2022

Hi everyone, it’s me, Dani, your KSTR Spokeskid! This week, I am excited to introduce you to Tyler Smith, an awesome kid who recently volunteered at KSTR with his family. He’s going to tell you about his experience as a volunteer! I’ll be back with an article next month. Enjoy this one from Tyler for now!

Hello! I am Tyler. I am eleven years old, and I recently visited KSTR. I had an amazing time! I thought you might like to know more about this great place and what you can experience as a KSTR volunteer.

My family lives quite far away, so we began our journey by checking into the Blue Banyan Inn, a property directly on the KSTR reserve. From the beginning, I felt very close to nature. There were frogs on my path, and I had to step over a huge trail of leaf cutter ants to get to our cottage. I later learned that these ants were traveling over a mile from their nest to cut mango leaves off a tree near my room. That night, I could hear iguanas on the roof, moving and crawling around. 

Animal kitchen

On my first full day there, I went on a tour of the reserve. I learned that the inn got its name from a Blue Banyan Tree right on the grounds. I also saw a tree called the Ylang Ylang tree, jokingly dubbed “The Perfume Tree”, as it grew the flower that made Chanel Number 5 Perfume.

I enjoyed meeting the KSTR staff and the animals they help. I heard each animal’s story and discovered each animal’s personality. Don Pedro the Curassow was very feisty, nibbling at our feet and strutting around. Fozzie the sloth seemed lazy at first, but then tried to impress us by crawling upside down. Darwin the spider monkey was crazy. He would make loud noises, and I heard he once peed on a staff member! It was interesting to learn how the animals got there and how they were helped by the KSTR community. 

Tyler cutting mango leaves

In addition to meeting the animals, I was able to help take care of them. Over the next two days, we prepared and delivered food for the animals. Each animal had its own diet. We had to make the food – and in some cases, help find it! I found mango trees and used a large tool to cut mango leaves for the sloths. 

Feeding the animals was interesting. We hung the mango leaves on an enrichment tool and then watched the sloths crawl up to eat. We learned that the animals eat different proteins each day, and that our day was egg day. It was fun to watch many animals fiddle with the eggs, but the monkeys were the best. They would throw the eggs on the ground to see if they were raw or cooked, which was very fun to see.

Volunteers help with other things too. I helped deep clean habitats, which is removing poop, food, and dead leaves, all while avoiding bullet ants. I played with Bella the Marmoset, gave her fresh water and cleaned her enclosure. She was my favorite animal.

I loved volunteering at KSTR, and I hope to do it again soon. It was so much fun to hang around animals I had never seen before and to meet such amazing people. I am so happy I had this experience, and I hope this article encourages other people to volunteer at KSTR!

Smith Family at KSTR

Photos by Sienna Smith.