YWF-Kido Foundation at Kido Ecological Station
YWF-Kido Foundation at Kido Ecological Station Programs
YWF-Kido Foundation, based at Kido Ecological Station in Carriacou Island and part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network, is looking for volunteers to participate...
YWF-Kido Foundation at Kido Ecological Station Reviews
Submitted by Cassie Daigle - University of Georgia | June 14, 2017
I have been passionate about sea turtles and conservation for as long as I can remember, and have been involved in other sea turtle monitoring and conservation programs in other parts of the world. That being said, I was disappointed in what great potential this program has, yet it is being wasted with poor program leadership and in the way volunteers are treated throughout the program.
I do see that many volunteers are incredibly happy with their stay at KIDO, which is what influenced me to come to Carriacou Island and volunteer with this organization in the first place. Unfortunately for me and my fellow volunteer I was with, our experience was quite different.
I will start by addressing the fact the program leaders are incredibly knowledgable and passionate about what they do, and their initiatives to save wildlife and preserve the presence of these amazing creatures for future generations does not go without notice. I learned so much within my month at KIDO about sea turtles and was able to assume a more hands-on role in every aspect of measuring sea turtles, recording data, relocating eggs, helping with hatchlings, etc, than in my previous volunteer programs.
That being said, I felt incredibly mis-leaded very quickly after my arrival at the KIDO compound. At first glance it looks like a wonderful place to stay, with an ocean view and an open to the outside atmosphere nestled in the woods of the island. It wasn't "dorm-style" living as they claimed it to be on the site, but I thought it would be even better upon arriving.
I was wrong. The spot we stayed in had doors to the bedrooms, but the outside living area and kitchen was completely open to the outside. Each night we had to hide all of our food in the oven and lock our trash in a cabinet because we spent the first week cleaning up the leftover trash the rats and possums would dig through and then create a mess of all over our kitchen. My roommate's backpack and sunglass case was also chewed through by the excessive amount of rats. Beyond the creatures, the bugs do not create a nuisance, but more of a complete and utter full fledged swarming zone. I have traveled to a remote location and lived in a poor village in Costa Rica and would gladly take that over what I dealt with at Kido. Because the vegetation seeps into the house do to the fact there are no doors, it is a breeding ground for mosquitoes who live in the vegetation. We went anywhere and everywhere exploring on that island and no place was worse than our very own bathroom at Kido. Be prepared to take a towel to swat with when you use the restroom and leave the shower, I had up to 15 swarming me at once at times leaving the bathroom and just simply resting in the common area. My roommate had 130 bites after just four days there. Deet might help, if you were allowed to use it at Kido. They do sell it in town for a whopping 16 bucks if it becomes unbearable, and trust me -- it will.
Beyond the bugs, iguanas live freely throughout your bedroom and living space. And be prepared because they will poop on anything you own and everywhere you breathe. Everyday I would pick off the iguana poop on my bed, on my mosquito net, in our dish drying space, as well as throughout our cabinets where we kept food. Because there are no doors it is easy access for these creatures to create their own home. It wouldn't be an excessive bother except picking up hundreds of iguana droppings throughout your living space gets tiring -- and not to mention incredibly unhealthy, especially since the poop (and rat poop) accumulates where you keep your food.
This might have been bearable for me and my fellow roommate except coupled with the management of this program it became utterly ridiculous. You will spend the lead-up to your arrival in Carriacou conversing with the director -- who is a pleasant and nice lady that anyone would assume would be your go-to when you get to KIDO, and heavily involved in whatever responsibilities you're doing while you're there. Except from the time of my arrival to my departure I dealt with a different contact who turned out to be an incredibly frustrating and at times incredibly inappropriate individual.
This leader would often tell me and the other volunteers about stories of other volunteers -- one that apparently was raped and another 3 that joined a local brothel and were lost for three days. Stories that would make any current volunteer wonder why on earth they were being told of horror stories of previous volunteers within the same program. Why any program director would want to jeopardize the success of their program by going into vivid detail about past years gone wrong I have no idea. I guess it was an attempt to keep us safe and aware, but it was an attempt that completely backfired. We couldn't leave the place without telling them where we were going, and then before we could leave he would launch into an hour long explanation about why we shouldn't go, then stemming into 6 other odd topics he would then delve into for no apparent reason. The man likes to hear himself talk, and he will go hours if you don't stop him. The topics range from crazy to just plain inappropriate.
He would also be incredibly hard to work with in situations when we needed him, like on turtle patrols. When a turtle would nest, he would say things like "Get the measuring tape, take the picture NOW!, no, get this, now do that, quickly!!" When we tried to scramble to get everything done, he would yell at you for doing the job he asked you to do and then ask you to do something else. Taking measurements and helping relocate eggs became a battle because he would often get frustrated with how you did something when you were just trying to figure out which thing he wanted you to do first out of the 6 things he yelled at you to do. You'd be leaning over trying to collect the eggs from him and then he would ask you to do something else and when you did that he would then question you and ask you why you stopped doing your original task. It would become very taxing because while you are trying to learn and absorb as much as you can, he makes you feel stupid if he's in a bad mood himself. One time I made a comment about the sock he put over a turtle's head to keep it calm and he told me "Don't make any more comments, This is what would happen to you if you got abducted."
The lack of support from the program leaders became incredibly frustrating. You are over 3 miles from town, in an isolated area with little to no neighbors, but good luck getting a ride to town for groceries if you're desperate. Your best bet is to walk a ways and then pay 6 bucks US total for a bus that will take you some of the way. Everything is on their time. If you ask for a ride, they will just tell you the times they are able to go, which sometimes isn't until later in the week. Never once did they ask if we needed a ride to get something, and never once did they just take the small time out of their day to just help us get to town. Most of the time we walked 3 miles carrying bags and bags of groceries because no bus goes up to KIDO -- it is too isolated and the roads are too bad.
When we approached the leadership about how frustrated and uncomfortable we were with how things were going, and with dealing with the program manager -- she did nothing but defend his actions. We told her how we felt uncomfortable with the way he talked and acted around us and she just blamed his personality and offered "some people can't deal with him and some people can." Never once did she ask us what she could do to make it better, but instead brushed off our concerns.
So, me and my roommate made it two weeks before we packed up and moved to John's Unique Resort in town. We wished we were there the entire time. For 30 bucks a night we got breakfast and supper included, and the meals were incredible. After the multiple warnings from the leadership that townies would drug us, and try and involve us in all their wrong-doings, the best part of the trip was staying in town. Not once did we feel unsafe, as they often told us that the town is seeped in danger. We met locals who cared about us, ensured our safety, helped us get from A to B and individuals who made our last two weeks the best time of the entire trip. Despite leaving KIDO, we did not give up on the program. We still patrolled nightly and did what we both set out to do -- save turtles. It's a shame that the conservation efforts and the passion that you find for saving these turtles could be clouded by the way the program is run, but I did not let that inhibit my ability as a volunteer.
I would suggest to anyone going that they try and find somewhere else to stay in town, as we heard from all the locals that so many other volunteers did the same thing. Many could not make it the entire time due to the leadership's antics and the living conditions at KIDO. Despite this, I'm at the very most just disappointed that this program has the potential to do so much more, have so many more volunteers and help save so many turtles, but I am afraid that the way it is run right now and at least in my experience staying there I am deterred from coming back and participating as well as recommending it to any future volunteers.
My hope is that maybe the leadership can calm down, learn to listen to the concerns of the volunteers, and maybe have someone else take more control of the program -- as she is who I thought I would be dealing with the whole time. But even then, she wouldn't listen to my concerns and simply defended her colleague. I wish that there would be more support, and more understanding from these directors but it seems they are stuck in their ways and little can change as is.
YWF-Kido Foundation at Kido Ecological Station responded to this review August 04, 2017 at 1:30 PM
The credibility of a Twitter spanned person who, after 2 weeks in a tropical ecological research station continues to label as IGUANAS some small night house geckos is nil. She was assigned to work 5 nights a week and she was unable to complete a single week of this schedule, which quickly escalated to patrolling with our team whenever it suited her schedule or when she was not too tired after sunbathing on the beach all afternoon before night patrol. She often refused the additional duties to check two smaller other beaches in the early morning after her patrol, which sometimes resulted in sea turtle nests being poached for the eggs, which is extremely destructive and violating one of our organization’s main mission statements here in Carriacou: to protect, conserve and preserve all life (especially in this case sea turtle eggs and mothers).She also would not take responsibility for her own actions which would often resulted in disobeying direct commands frequently concerning KIDO conservation work and island social behavior.This immature, childish and selfish personality proved utterly useless and burdensome during her brief time spent with the KIDO Turtle monitoring team, literally hampering our turtle conservation work.
The Best experience I have had
Submitted by Wild Survivor | June 09, 2017
Volunteering with this organization is one of the best decisions I have made. The directors are amazing people who really care about this cause. Conservation and awareness is the top priority here and by following suit there will never be a dull moment from when you set foot on the island of Carriacou.
A perfect opportunity for some passionate people looking to do something meaningful and important. The first time you see one of these amazing creatures come ashore is unlike any experience you will ever have. One you will truly cherish and never be able to stop talking about until you watch the hatchlings emerge from a nest you helped to save and swim out to sea.
I loved this project so much I returned again to help out the Kido Foundation and their amazing staff 5 years after my first time. An unusual occurrence happened as a turtle I had tagged for the first time on May 28th 2012 returned on the exact same day May 28th 2017 to nest on the same exact date as when I had originally tagged her. It such an amazing feeling to see all your hard efforts be rewarded knowing that this magnificent creature still has survived despite all the obstacles within their path.