In June and July of 2017, a research team representing the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja and the University of Idaho conducted applied qualitative social science research using participatory workshops in five communities on the outskirts of Loja, Ecuador. The workshops explored the possibilities for Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja and the communities to collaborate on conservation projects. We sought to identify the most pressing environmental concerns in the communities and understand how Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja could collaborate in addressing these issues. This case study highlights the challenges we faced in recruiting participants for these workshops and offers some ideas for researchers in a similar context. Recruitment challenges centered around the difficulties of building relationships of trust between the academic institutions and the communities, and a sense that the communities were overburdened by agency-led development projects. In addition to recruitment challenges, we also describe other lessons learned about working in this international context, including difficulties with scheduling, communication, technology, and using food as an incentive for participation. The aim of this case study is to provide readers with an appreciation for the challenges and opportunities of conducting research in an international community context.