Meet Alejandra!

[three_fourth]I’m María Alejandra Castro from Lima, Peru and I’m 24 years old. I study Forestry Engineering at the La Molina National Agrarian University. One of my friends posted on our facebook group about a scholarship to attend a course on tropical biology, and as I love wildlife management and being deep in the Amazonian forest, I didn’t think twice about applying![/three_fourth]

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So far, this was the best decision and experience ever!

At first, I was concerned that maybe the course was going to be too difficult, but in the end it turned out to be so fun and rewarding that thinking about grades and other stressful subjects became unimportant.

Ale holding a female silver-beaked tanager in the photographer’s hold, a technique she learned in the mist-netting module on this course


Also, my friends warned me that I wasn’t going to have any contact with the outside world during the course, but we were always doing so many interesting things like birdwatching, enjoying the sunset, learning about reptiles we didn’t even know existed, and breathing fresh and clean air, that a couple of weeks were – to be honest – the best way to be detached from the world!

A gorgeous bottle-green cicada perches on Ale’s shoulder as someone quickly takes a picture of them together – entomology night-lights bring out some incredible creatures, most unknown to science

I completely loved the whole course! Mini, Gideon and Tim were (and are!) always prone to help you and give you advice about eveything. I was always having rashes and Mini looked after me as our big mom, that’s something I will never forget! Our crew was awesome, all of them eager to learn, teach, share and help! Besides the course, the people you will get to know will make you do things you never expected of yourself, (like sharing your poop, for science, of course!)

At the end of the course, Ale shows the instructors a little bit more of Lima. We don’t just teach students, we hope to keep them in our lives for a long time!


Maria Alejandra Castro won the Edwin Chota Scholarship for Peruvians in December, 2014. She attended the winter field course that year at the Los Amigos Biological Field Station in Peru.

In her essay to win the scholarship she wrote of Chota’s incredible struggle to fight for his peoples’ rights. She wrote:

I believe he had three important contributions to Peru; first of all he never stopped fighting and believing [in] a better community, secondly he stood against illegal loggers, and finally he made it a global issue.

We see many of the same characters in Ale – determination, commitment, and a keen interest in forests, even down to every tiny tree planted along Lima’s streets.

We were honored to have her join the course, and wish her the best in her future endeavours! May our paths meet again!

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