Lend Ceiba a Hand -- Volunteer in Ecuador!
your horizons and gain valuable experience as you lend a hand to the
Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation. As a Ceiba Ecuador
volunteer you will put your knowledge and skills to work for habitat
conservation, environmental education, community development, reforestation,
and scientific research.
See our NEW volunteer
Why Volunteer for Ceiba?
- Make a tangible contribution!
Ceiba is dedicated to conservation of tropical ecosystems, and works
with local people to protect natural resources and develop sustainable
ways of living. Volunteers make tangible and lasting contributions
to our projects, and are long remembered by the communities where
- Gain valuable experience!
Being a volunteer for Ceiba is a great way to get hands-on experience:
whether its building trails, leading school kids on a forest hike,
planting native trees, or surveying bird diversity!
- Live in a foreign country!
Our volunteers live and work in Ecuador, a vibrant South American
country rich in culture, history and biodiversity.
- Learn spanish!
You will be immersed in local communities and work directly with local
people in rural areas, where few people speak English but all are
friendly and patient with volunteers as they improve their Spanish.
- Nature Center needs volunteers!
Situated on Ecuador's gorgeous Pacific coast, the reserve protects
one of the largest remaining tracts of deciduous tropical forest (dry
forest) in the coastal Manabi province of Ecuador. Wake up to birdsong
and the roar of howler monkeys in the bamboo volunteer house, made in
the traditional style. At the end of a hard day's work, helping on trails,
reforestation, or environmental education -- see volunteer
positions -- enjoy the sunset from one of several nearby
beaches, or hike up to the lookout to enjoy the view of the Pacific
Ocean. Click here for details on this amazing
Lush cloud forests adorn the steep slopes of this 1500 acre private
reserve in the Andes mountains. It is protected via South America's
second conservation easement with the Ceiba Foundation. Located only
1 hour from Quito, El Pahuma is the closest protected primary forest
to the capital city, and relies on ecotourism for its protection and
maintenance. The reserve boasts more than 200 species of orchids, 250
species of birds and three waterfalls. Volunteers assist in caring for
orchids, maintaining trails, and environmental interpretation -- see
volunteer positions for
more detail, and visit the El Pahuma page!
NEW - Nature Center &
Environmental Interpretation Volunteer
Volunteers with creativity and a passion for nature are
needed to run environmental interpretation programs in the new nature
center. Responsibilities include one or more of the following depending
on your interests:
- implement environmental education programs at the reserve for local
school groups and other visitors.
- teach environmental themes in local schools with local teachers
- create indoor and outdoor environmental exhibits and educational
- develop educational mini-programs for tourists and school groups
visiting the reserve.
- greet and guide visitors who come to the nature center, together
with the nature center staffperson.
Applicants for this position should be independent, creative and speak
at least some spanish. Prior experience working with youth or in environmental
education programs is valuable.
NEW - Native Plant Garden Volunteer needed now!
Enjoy gardening? A new educational garden of native and useful plants
is being installed as part of the Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve's new
nature center. The gardens design highlights the importance of the reserve
as a transition zone from dry forests to humid forests, with representative
species of each. Responsibilities include:
- prepare planting beds with soil amendments
- find and transplant native plants into the garden
- weed, water and maintain the general beauty of the garden
- create and install plant labels
Applicants for this position should be independent and enjoy gardening.
Spanish language ability is not required.
Volunteers with a "green thumb" and an interest in conservation
or reforestation are needed to work reforestating abandoned pastures
with native tree species.
- collecting tree seeds and planting them in the nursery
- working with local schools to establish their own nurseries.
- planting and maintaining outplanted tree seedlings (irrigation,
- installing and repairing fences around reforestation and regeneration
- taking measurements for tree growth monitoring data collection
- labelling trees
Applicants for this position should be able to take direction and fit
into an ongoing project. Spanish fluency is not required. This position
involves physically strenuous work in a hot tropical climate while living
in rustic conditions. This position is well suited to someone interested
in conducting independent agroforestry, reforestation and/or parks management
research in conjunction with their volunteership.
Trail Construction Volunteer
Individuals are needed to plan and construct trails in a new tropical
dry forest reserve on the Pacific coast of Ecuador. Responsibilities
- clearing minimal vegetation necessary for trail construction using
machete and/or chainsaw
- using proper trail construction techniques to avoid erosion and
destruction of flora
- installing signs to guide visitors on trails
- constructing and installing handrails, benches, fences and signage
- measuring and mapping completed trails using compass, tape and measuring
Applicants should be physically fit and able to conduct strenuous outdoor
work in a hot tropical climate. Knowledge of using tools such as machetes
and chainsaws and experience in construction helpful. Must be willing
to learn sound trail construction practices and be practiced at using
a compass to orient in remote areas. Spanish helpful but not required.
Orchid Rescue Operation
Volunteers Urgently Needed
We urgently need volunteers to help rescue orchids from a new road
construction project and relocate them to the holding facility at El
Pahuma. Responsibilities include:
- removing orchids from forest areas that will be bulldozed along
a new road construction right-of-way and helping with transport to
- potting and labelling of rescued orchids
- building growing benches and installing a watering system
- coordinate the identification of rescued orchids
- inventory of rescued plants
Center Interpreter & Forest Guide
A friendly, independent and outgoing individual with good organizational
and people skills is needed to greet visitors and help with environmental
interpretation in the beautiful Nature Center. Responsibilities include:
- greeting and orienting visitors
- guiding hikes
- organizing and maintaining records
- staffing the reception area
- creating and maintaining educational displays and materials
- assisting with daily operations of the nature center
Previous experience in nature reserves, parks or tourism a plus.
Some Spanish language or other foreign language ability preferred.
Gardener, Orchid Botanical
Individuals with a green thumb, or who enjoy caring for plants outdoors,
are needed to assist in the care of orchids and other plants, and in
general maintenance of the Botanical Garden at the El Pahuma reserve.
- care of garden trails and general garden maintenance
- care of plants (watering, pruning, weeding)
- creating tags and signage
- maintaining hummingbird feeders
- greeting and guiding visitors when needed
Prior experience in botanical gardens, greenhouses, nurseries or the
like would be extremely useful. Previous experience working in
forest parks and reserves or in environmental education centers also
would be helpful, but is not necessary. Knowledge of spanish beneficial,
but not required.
Trail Construction &
Individuals willing to conduct physical work and with basic carpentry
skills are needed to assist with the construction and maintenance of
trails and other visitor facilities. Responsibilities include:
- maintaining existing trails (repairing stairs, benches and handrails,
maintaining drainage channels, removing litter, replacing gravel,
- clearing downed and encroaching vegetation
- creating wooden signs and installing them
- helping to building blinds and/or benches for overlooks and wildlife
- constructing a new trail in a steep area for access to the Shunguyacu
- assisting in other routine maintenance or construction tasks when
Applicants should be strong and physically fit, willing to do heavy
work on steep slopes in a variety of weather conditions. Applicants
should possess an interest in conservation of tropical montane forests,
have knowledge of or willingness to learn sound trail construction practices,
and be at ease living in simple conditions in rural areas. Previous
experience working in parks and reserves, or in forestry or construction
a plus. Knowledge of spanish helpful, but not required.
Fees and Payment Policy
Please see our RATES page for current food
and lodging costs for volunteers.
Food and lodging is provided at your volunteer site (see rates).
Payment for your stay must be received IN FULL prior
to your arrival at your volunteer site. Payment options are as follows:
- By mailing a U.S. check or money order to our U.S. office
- Via wire transfer to our U.S. bank account (fees apply)
- In cash at our office in Quito upon arrival in Ecuador.
Ceiba will supply necessary equipment for completion of posted volunteer
positions. The exact materials to be supplied, and their use,
will be elaborated upon once a volunteer has been approved and arrives
on site. In special cases, volunteers may be asked to provide
necessary equipment; this may occur when volunteers are selected on
the basis of a particular skill that relates to specific equipment,
such as photographic equipment. Volunteers are responsible for supplying
all unrelated and/or personal equipment (hiking boots, flashlight, etc.),
and must cover costs of food, lodging and transportation during days
There is a processing fee due with your volunteer application of $25.
See how to apply for more information.
Information for Ceiba Volunteers
Thank you for your interest in volunteering your time and skills to
the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation. The quality work
of our volunteers greatly contributes to the success of Ceiba projects.
Like ourselves, our volunteers are committed to conservation and helping
others, and recognize that each one of us must do our part to protect
the environment. This document details the general guidelines
and policies for volunteers participating in Ceiba projects abroad.
We appreciate you taking the time to familiarize yourself with the conditions
and guidelines for becoming a Ceiba volunteer.
Code of Conduct
Volunteers are required to conduct themselves at all times in a professional
manner while participating in Ceiba projects or working at Ceiba sites.
Participants are expected to work responsibly to complete the tasks
assigned to them to the best of their abilities. Volunteers are
requested to cite Ceiba and any Ceiba project locations (e.g., reserves,
etc.) in any publications relating to work conducted while working on
Ceiba-approved projects. Since providing continuity is one of
the greatest challenges of any volunteer program, volunteers are requested
to send an email to Ceiba at the end of their stay to summarize the
work they did during their volunteership, and to provide comments, suggestions
and copies of any materials created. In the case of extended projects,
Ceiba may request that volunteers submit intermediate progress reports
from the field (most often by email) .
All participants are expected to provide Ceiba with copies of data,
notes, maps, photos, recordings, theses or publications that result
from your volunteership. Participants are expected and encouraged
to pass on their knowledge, and the information they have collected,
to local people whenever possible, and to listen carefully to and incorporate
the ideas and knowledge of local people. If appropriate, you may
organize workshops, seminars and other presentations, and should at
all times strive to involve those with whom you routinely interact (landowners,
local students, field assistants, et al.). Finally, participants
are encouraged to be prepared to be flexible, when situations arise
that require adapting the initial description of your expected duties
(after all, this is field work).
A one week minimum commitment is required, but you
can extend their stay for up to 3 months or more with prior approval
from Ceiba. Please note that an extended visa is required to remain
in Ecuador for more than 90 days.
You will normally work 6-8 hours per day, 5 days per week,
though not necessarily Monday through Friday. Specific work schedules
will depend on the position for which the volunteer is applying, for
example many positions at El Pahuma require volunteers to work on Saturday
and Sunday when visitation is highest.
During your two days off each week, on-site staff can help you find
many fun activities and interesting places to go near your volunteers
site. Free time activities may include hikes to waterfalls, surfing
or beachcombing, and checking out nearby towns and archeaological sites.
Food, lodging and travel during days off is the full responsibility
of the volunteer.
If you'd like to volunteer for Ceiba, you should have a strong interest
in conservation and related human issues, and be willing to undertake
difficult and sometimes tedious outdoor work in a tropical climate under
sometimes rustic living conditions. While university study is
not required, certain knowledge areas or skills are preferred for some
positions. Spanish language ability is always a plus, but is not
required for most positions. See current volunteer
positions for specific requirements.
The list below is by no means exhaustive, but rather includes items
that are essential to living and working at your volunteer site:
- headlamp or flashlight
- long-pants and long-sleeved lightweight shirts for field work (cotton
- hiking shoes or boots
- rubber boots (easily purchased cheaply in Ecuador)
- poncho or other raingear
- swimsuit and towel
- biodegradable soap
- water bottle
- pocket knife
- insect repellant
- personal first aid kit
Ecuador is generally a safe country, but travel to and work in rural
areas where medical facilities are limited carries certain inherent
dangers. Volunteers are required to sign a waiver to release Ceiba from
responsibility for any illness, accident, or injury incurred during
their stay in Ecuador. It is strongly recommended that volunteers
carry valid insurance to cover medical emergencies during travel abroad.
We also suggest you bring a personal first aid kit. Many of our positions
involve field work that will require you to be in good physical condition.
Consult the specific position description to assess the physical demands
of your position. Volunteers should consult their local physician
or travel health agency to obtain necessary or recommended vaccinations
for travel and work abroad.
Please contact Ceiba with the date that you
plan to arrive in Ecuador and to make an appointment to visit our Quito
office. You are required to make payment in full for your stay and sign
the liability release at our office in Quito before you report to your
field site. At this time you will also receive directions for traveling
by bus to your site, and other orientation information. When you get
to your field site, you will be greeted by a site staffmember and oriented
to the project, introduced to people you will be working with, and assisted
in planning your volunteer work. You'll receive more detailed travel
and arrival information upon your acceptance as a Ceiba volunteer!
Termination & Cancellation Policy
Your volunteership ends automatically on the date specified on your
application. If you'd like to stay longer, we are happy to extend your
volunteership, but you will be asked to pay for additional days by the
original ending date. Ceiba reserves the right to dismiss any
volunteer from a project site for any reason deemed sufficient by Ceiba
staff. Persons subject to dismissal will be notified in writing
of the termination of their volunteership or the reasons for expulsion.
Expulsion of participants may result from cases such as: 1) abuse
of position as a Ceiba volunteer, 2) misuse of facilities, 3) improper
professional or personal conduct, 4) misrepresentation of Ceiba and
its goals, 5) violation of Ceiba policies such as reserve management
guidelines and 6) unlawful conduct. To date, we have never had
cause to dismiss a volunteer We are confident in the qualifications
and professionalism of all our volunteers and provide these guidelines
so that volunteers are aware of our policy.
Should a volunteer decide to withdraw from the volunteer position prior to program completion (see invoice for dates), he or she is responsible for lodging and food costs throughout the duration of stay, and through the end of the week in which the volunteer leaves the site. Volunteers will also be responsible for an additional $150 service fee given early termination of the program; after these deductions, the remainder of the volunteer fee will be refunded.
Message to Volunteers
Volunteering your services on an international conservation project
can be an experience you will never forget. While it is the opportunity
to contribute to a worthwhile cause or to get to know a foreign country
in greater depth that initially attracts potential volunteers, the challenges
and rewards gained from working with local people to find creative solutions
to complex problems are remembered most by volunteers after completing
their assignments. The experience of working in a foreign country,
and making a meaningful contribution to issues important to you, can
invigorate your confidence in your own abilities; likewise, participating
in an ongoing conservation program can renew your faith in the capacity
of people to work together to make a difference in their lives and their
environment. Ceiba deeply appreciates the value of the work contributed
by our volunteers. Many of our most important discoveries and
project advancements have been made by our volunteers! We hope
that your position will challenge and stimulate you, and that you will
count your own self-development among the benefits of your volunteership.
It is our sincere wish that your participation with Ceiba will have
a meaningful and lasting effect not only on the project with which you
will work, but also on yourself and the choices you will make in your
Answers to frequently asked questions by volunteers and researchers can be found in the FAQ sheet.
Please read the above information carefully before applying to one
of Ceiba's volunteer positions.
To apply, please complete the following steps:
- Fill out the online volunteer application form (or download the PDF
form to fill out and email to us).
- Email us with:
- your resumé or a description of your skills, experience, and interests.
- a clear photocopy of your passport (photo page)
- Pay the $25 application fee*.
*The application fee is payable by U.S. check or money order to our
U.S. office, or by using our Network
for Good online donation system (2% added cost). If you elect to
pay online, please indicate the purpose of the payment, check the box
to add the 2% service charge, and fill in all contact information.
Why do we charge this? It takes a fair amount of administrative work to manage the volunteer program and prepare for the arrival of a volunteer. Unfortunately, some volunteers that apply and are accepted cancel at the last minute or never show up, so these administrative costs are borne whether the volunteer joins us or not. Thus we charge for administration of volunteers up front.
Please email or mail all materials to:
Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation
1605 Monroe Street, Suite 104
Madison, WI 53711
Tel: (608) 230-5550
You will be notified within 2-4 weeks of receipt of your application
materials if your application has been approved. We may request
to interview you, particularly for positions that require specific skills.
Due to the volume of applicants, negative replies will not be mailed,
however you may contact Ceiba at your convenience to check on the status
of your application.
Mission and Goals
The Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation is a non profit organization
dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of tropical habitats,
and the conservation of their plants and animals. Our mission
is to sponsor scientific research, provide public education and support
community-based actions that promote the conservation of ecosystem integrity
and biodiversity. Ceiba's specific objectives are: 1) support
community-based wildlife and habitat conservation efforts in tropical
South and Central America, 2) implement resource management practices
that maintain ecosystem integrity and biodiversity, 3) teach applied
ecology and management principles in field courses, seminars and technical
training workshops, 4) monitor the impacts of human land uses on ecosystems,
habitats and species diversity, and 5) facilitate communication between
conservation organizations, farmers, scientists, and resource managers.