Idaho Girl Finds Paradise

Howdy! I am the Release Site Coordinator at Toucan Rescue Ranch’s Release Site located in Sarapiqui de Heredia, Costa Rica. I’m from Sandpoint, Idaho, a little town located in the Idaho Panhandle, nestled between the Selkirk and Cabinet mountain ranges, alongside Lake Pend Oreille, not far from the Canadian border. I’m happiest when I am outdoors so you’re most likely to find me surfing the snow, blazing trails, or taking a dip in Pend Oreille.

In the spring of 2016, I graduated with my B.S. in Business and Communications; I am currently in the process of applying to law school. I plan on studying environmental law, focusing on the conservation of natural resources in hopes of providing representation for individuals, organizations, animals, and our planet, who or which could not otherwise help themselves. 

I first learned about TRR from my dear friend Zara Palmer, the TRR Marketing Specialist.  We were both working at a pizza shop atop our local ski hill. Over the course of the season, we shared countless stories and experiences, many of hers about TRR. Inspired by her stories, I applied to volunteer and happily was accepted!!! I remember the months leading up to my arrival at TRR seemed endless. 

In July 2016, I packed my bags and spent two months at TRR as a Daily Operations Volunteer. I fell in love, with the animals, the people at the ranch, their mission, Costa Rica - all of it. Needless to say, two months was too short so I went home to save some dough. With little hesitation, I postponed law school for a year and committed to six more months with TRR. However, this time I would be returning as the Release Site Coordinator, an opportunity I am tremendously grateful for. 

In this role my primary responsibilities incorporate my business skills as well as my love for animals and nature, they include conducting daily rounds, monitoring all animal care activities, and providing Leslie with regular status reports. My main focus includes implementing approved pre-release plans, monitoring and managing the Toucan Breeding Program, and identifying and communicating abnormal animal behaviors. In addition, I have some exciting projects I want to finish while I’m here. Two of which I am particularly excited about are geared toward sustainability: building a chicken coop and creating a vegetable garden. 

Although my time at the Release Site will eventually come to an end, the Toucan Rescue Ranch will forever be with me for it has carved out a place in my heart. And I hope to always be apart of this extraordinary organization for the rest of my time here on planet earth. 

By Release Site Coordinator Intern, Kendall Watts 

Release Site Photos Captured by Kendall Watts 


  1. C & M Hinman says:

    Go Idaho outdoors girl from Lewiston, ID folks.

    • admin says:

      Shout out to C & M Hinman. Idaho outdoor girls rock! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Morgan says:

    Hi Kendall,
    My name is Morgan, I am an Idaho girl as well, from Ketchum, but in Boise right now continuing my education. More than anything I love animals, helping animals, and sloths. When I saw your post I wanted to ask you about opportunities to help out in Costa Rica. I am finishing a degree in a medical field and will graduate in May but I am brought to tears and smiles at every post from the TRR. Do you have any advice or ideas for me to help out. I have no idea what it would entail and I imagine it’s not cheap getting to the ranch but I would love to come help. I have a medical background but more than anything I work hard and love animals with a very deep passion. Thank you for your time, Morgan

    • admin says:

      Hey Morgan,

      I am so glad to have another Idaho gal compassionate about wildlife. What is your degree in? Congratulations by the way! So, getting to the ranch. There are a few steps you have to take but I am sure TRR would love to have you. If you visit the TRR website there is a section that says “Get Involved” with a link for those who want to volunteer. There you will find an application that asks some basic questions about yourself and what type of skills you can bring to the table. Once TRR reviews your applications Carol or myself (if I’m still working at TRR…I leave in April) will contact you and set up an interview. Having a deep passion and love for animals is great and also being a hard worker. Because sometimes the work is hard but at the end of the day knowing you are providing animals with a better life is what it is all about. The other obstacle you have to face is money. Now a round-trip plane ticket runs about $600 and depending on how long you want to stay will also depend on how much money you’ll need while you are here. Ballpark anywhere from $1000-$2000 a month and this just depends on what kind of trip you want. My estimation includes housing, meal plan, and entertainment funds. You get two days off a week as a “Toucan Volunteer” so you’ll have the choice on whether you want to travel to the beach or to places like Monteverde and Arenal or stay near the ranch for the weekend. All are great choices. And of course there is plenty more to talk about but those are probably the two major things I was concerned about when I first found out about TRR and decided I wanted to volunteer. Maybe I’ll see you at the Ranch someday!

      Thanks for responding to my post,


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