The Leadership Institute: Climate Change in Costa Rica

By October 3, 2023 No Comments


After your pre-program virtual workshops, embark on an amazing journey through Costa Rica, a land where nature and culture blend in perfect harmony. Your adventure begins in San Jose, the lively capital city, where you’ll explore museums, stroll through bustling markets, and join discussions about climate justice during orientation setting the stage for your eco-friendly expedition.

Explore the wonders of Costa Rica’s pristine wilderness as you travel from the Los Santos Region to the remote Osa Peninsula. Each day offers new opportunities to discover breathtaking landscapes, hike in lush national parks, and immerse yourself in the charm of local communities.

Experience the heartwarming world of Costa Rican communities during a 10-night homestay, where you’ll take part in meaningful community projects, forging bonds and making a positive impact that will linger long after you’ve left.

Hold onto your hat for thrilling adventures, from adrenaline-pumping experiences at Extreme Forest Park to exciting catamaran journeys and snorkeling. Explore the rugged beauty of Corcovado National Park and take on exhilarating canopy tours.

Discover eco-initiatives and sustainable practices, visit an Eolic Park, and witness the mesmerizing magic of sea turtle nesting. This journey is a beautiful blend of nature’s wonders, cultural exploration, and conservation efforts. During your program wrap-up, finalize your community action plan/project for your return home 

After you return home, re-connect with your group virtually after program to report out about your action plan/project.  


The Experiment’s programs are designed to build skills that will help you succeed. In Costa Rica, you will learn: 


  •  Spanish language


  • Resourcefulness  
  • Intercultural communication  
  • Time management  
  • Adaptability 
  • Relationship-building 


  • This is a very active program involving outdoor activities, ecological restoration, and conservation volunteer work. Water activities will include kayaking/canoeing, swimming, and snorkeling.  
  • The program moves throughout the country, including 2 to 5-hour bus trips. Be prepared to carry your luggage up and down stairs and to lift it into overhead storage compartments.  
  • In the summer, Costa Rica is typically hot and humid.  Rainfall varies from constant rain to severe drought – the Pacific Coast tends to be drier, whilst the Caribbean Coast can receive more rainfall. Weather can also be very unpredictable.  
  • Rice and beans, potatoes, pork, and beef are key staples in the Costa Rican cuisine. Chicken and fish are widely available, especially on the Caribbean Coast.   Vegetarians and vegans may need to plan ahead. 
  • Access to the internet is limited, and internet speeds and connectivity vary.  
  • The diverse personal and social identities of participants may, in part, shape their experience abroad. In-country partners will discuss cultural norms and the local context during orientation. Please read our approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for further information. All students will have a safe space within the program spaces and with the local staff and group leaders.  
  • The Experiment program structure is rooted in experiential learning and cohort-based learning. The participant group experience is a major source of learning for Experimenters and is facilitated by trained Experiment group leaders.  

Program Eligibility

To be accepted, all prospective Experimenters must have completed their 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th-grade year but have not yet entered college or university and demonstrate the following admissions criteria through their online application and interview:

  • Motivation to participate in an Experiment program;
  • Ability to work in a group setting (in school or outside of school) with peers and adults from diverse backgrounds;
  • Proven maturity;
  • Open-mindedness and curiosity about Costa Rican life and culture; and
  • Obtain a passport that is valid through at least February 28, 2025.

Leadership Institute applicants must also have:

  • Leadership potential shown through community and/or school involvement;
  • Commitment to participating in virtual pre-program workshops and sessions and a post-program community action project; reliable internet access during the pre-and post-program components; and
  • Demonstrated interest in climate change, climate justice, or conservation and environmental work.
  • Alumni of past Experiment Abroad programs are not eligible for the Leadership Institute.

Our admissions and program staff will manage the interview and selection process. Participants will be selected through a transparent, verifiable process based on demonstrated interests and potential, reference form, and personal interviews. Interviews will focus on the applicant’s interest in and commitment to high-quality leadership, global competency, civic responsibility, community engagement, and their enthusiasm for participating and completing the follow-on programming. Leadership Institute participants who complete the program, including pre-and post-program components, will receive a digital certificate of completion.

Applicants will also be evaluated on the following characteristics:

  • Excellent social and communication skills;
  • An energetic, positive attitude;
  • Group-oriented and ability to work within a diverse team
  • Ability to implement projects that benefit the applicant’s school and/or community;
  • Demonstrated ability to reflect on learning; and
  • Demonstrated potential to follow through with projects and apply what one has learned to new projects, initiatives or plans.

How to Apply

  1. Go to
  2. On the Program Selection page, choose Costa Rica: Climate Change (Leadership Institute) for your first- and second-choice program.
  3. Select a program that is not part of The Experiment Leadership Institute for your third choice. We will consider your application for this third program if you are not accepted to The Experiment Leadership Institute.
  4. The application deadline for the competitive Leadership Institute summer 2024 has passed. We will publish the summer 2025 application deadline in early fall.

Need-Based Leadership Institute Scholarships

All Leadership Institute scholarships are need-based and range from $1,000 to full scholarships covering tuition and international airfare. To be considered for a need-based scholarship, on your online application for admission, please answer “Yes,” to the question, “Would you like to apply for a need-based scholarship?” and complete the need-based scholarship application form emailed to your financially responsible parent/guardian.