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Bioluminescent Mushroom Field Researcher
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Bioluminescent Mushroom Field Researcher

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Community Engagement

    6

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Day to Day Life

    6

Bioluminescent Mushroom Researcher, 3 months

Antonia, Germany, 18 years, 3 months as a bioluminescent mushroom researcher

When I started looking for volunteer programs abroad focusing on research, there weren't many to find, if at all (with no professional experience on my side). I was very lucky to find the Bioluminescent Mushroom Researching Program and it sounded really cool (I mean glowing mushrooms!). After I applied everything happened fast, their volunteer coordinator replied the next day, I got all the necessary information and we skyped shortly afterwards.
So I was to become a bioluminescent mushroom researcher for 3 months (09/16-12/16)!
Before and during my stay, IPBio was really taking care, responding quickly, providing all the necessary information and helping where they could.
There were only two things I would have liked to know or to have it emphasized:
Me and the other "mushroom girl" were the first mushroom volunteers thus we started from scratch and had to experience a lot of failure and the researching was more of a cultivation attempt than "researching" as I had had it in mind. But, the positive side of it was that we were really able to work independently and contribute own ideas that were realised, it was fun! Plus, the whole IPBio team consists of young, partly international, motivated people, always nice to have around. And they were always around since you work together and spend most of your free time together, barbecuing, hiking, drinking a caipirinha from time to time.. They are great!
The second thing, I liked to have had emphasized was the fact that you live in a little cabin/bungalow in the Betary Reserve in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees. That can be cool, but in my case there was only one other volunteer and thank god we liked each other (otherwise we probably would have ended like good old Jack Torrance :D)! The rest of the team lives in town, 6km away. Well, you can like it or you don't, I think it's just important to know that it can get really desolate and isolating if there aren't at least 2-3 other volunteers around, even if the place is stunningly beautiful.
More about the mushroom researching:
For Sierra (the other volunteer) and me the plan was to try different substrates to cultivate the mushroom on, to find the best and to optimize the cultivation process focusing on other factors like speed of growth, cost etc. After the first round of tests we had to lower our expectations a bit and focus on the sterilization process and other factors that might have caused the failure. In the end we had loads of information and had tried many different ways of doing what we did but unfortunately still couldn't really show a result. But, we decided on the next steps to take, unfortunately for us, they were to be taken by the next mushroom researchers. But I'll keep up and check from Germany how they are doing! :D

All in all I had a great time, I was able to meet awesome knew people, learn more about mushrooms and the atlantic rainforest in general and to be responsible for myself in the middle of nowhere, without even speaking Portuguese (what I should have learned in advance however, language can become a real barrier). Plus, IPBio and its volunteer program are really young and still to develop. The things I criticized all relate to the fact that Sierra and me belong to the first volunteers to ever have been there and I really believe that IPBio has a great potential and the right people working there to achieve the improvement and development they are capable of! And they need you next volunteers to get there :) I also think I’m going to come back at some point, when I’m a bit older and the volunteer program a bit further, because it simply is a beautiful place!