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Here in Neltume, Chile, deep in the Southern Hemisphere, the days are becoming shorter and shorter as temperatures drop by the day. The stunning red-and-green tree line of the hills that surrounds our cabin is now dusted and white-tipped from this week’s snow, and the breathtaking view of the twin-peaked volcano Mocho-Choshuenco is now fully covered in bright white. With the arrival of the snow, our group has become increasingly skilled at starting fireplaces and layering to keep warm. In addition to this change in scenery this week, our work here has been very exciting. Some of the highlights include traveling to more hidden, pristine lakes to take measurements, visiting gorgeous “miradores” (viewpoints) along the side of the roads, exploring Neltume and its surrounding landscape on hikes to secret waterfalls and trails with our cute and overwhelmingly friendly dog who we have named “Wiggle Butt” from her enthusiastic backside, visiting and learning more about conservation practices of the Huemul, a precious and endangered deer species native to Chile and Argentina.In addition to our work on the websites and lakes, we are working with a plant and tree nursery in Neltume to create a greenhouse to display the different types of native ferns of the surrounding area.

As we came back from a long day of testing lake water quality, we stopped at a lookout along the twisty road back to Neltume to see this breathtaking sight at sunset. The weather could not have been nicer, albeit very chilly, and you could see mountains and volcanoes all around, including Volcán Villarica in white in the distance.

A few of the “scientists” on our program (Elena, Connie, Stella) as they tested water samples and collected data for our research regarding water quality of certain lakes of differing sizes in the region.

José, our program director, teaching us about the many different types of ecosystems in the region under protection of the Huilo Huilo Foundation.

Meet “Wiggle Butt”, the beloved and lovable dog who hangs around the Huilo Huilo Foundation compound and follows us around almost everywhere we go. She is nicknamed after hind quarters which move along with her enthusiastic constant tail wagging.

We were very lucky to be able to visit and learn more about the conservation efforts of the Huilo Huilo Foundation for the Huemul deer, an endangered species of deer native to this area.

Part of the team looking ready to till!

AJ and the rest of the group hard at work removing the grass and making the soil soft and malleable for planting.