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Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, Inc.

Rating: 4.96 stars   46 reviews 3,651


301 S. Bedford St., Suite 7A Madison WI 53703 USA


Tropical habitats contain 50% of the world's biodiversity, yet are threatened by accelerating rates of deforestation. Most of the remaining unprotected lands are privately held, and new means are needed to conserve these forests. Ceiba works to protect habitat and the biodiversity found there through by implementing legal conservation agreements with landowners, providing public education about the value of wild nature, conducting research on the relationship between humans and the land, and encouraging sustainable economic activities that improve livelihoods while safeguarding biodiversity.

Target demographics:

local communities protect forests and create sustainable livelihoods

Geographic areas served:

Ecuador, South America


- Jama Conservation Corridor - Lalo Loor Dry Forest reserve and biological station - El Pahuma Orchid reserve - Tropical Ecosystems: Andes to Amazon summer field course - Tropical Conservation Semester: Galapagos, Andes and Amazon study abroad program

2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Reviews for Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, Inc.

Rating: 5 stars  

Ceiba continues to do extremely important work in Ecuador. Their several environmental projects are comprehensive and expansive. They include many educational components and impressive outreach programs to the neighboring communities. Five friends and I also had the privilege of joining their semester abroad course to the Galapagos which we all agreed was one of the most exciting, informative and well-run endeavors we have ever enjoyed. Anyone who could be part of their projects or courses would be extremely fortunate. Ceiba in an excellent educator of the need and "how to's" to protect the environment

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

The Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation is an extremely productive, well-managed and successful conservation organization that does most of its work in Ecuador. Conceived and run by Joe Meisel, Phd Zoology and Catherine Woodward, Phd Botany it is an extraordinarily successful conservation organization. It started small by replacing a lost boat to a protector of the manatees. From there they saved approximately 300 hectares of cloud forest, situated in the midst of 1200 hectares of forest, from being destroyed by the lumber companies trying to buy out the owning family’s property. After seven years of working with the family, sending several members to school and other training programs so that they could manage the property, developing the property into an orchid reserve with a visitor’s center and orchid garden and promoting tourists visits and volunteer aids, this forest area called El Pahuma has become a viable means of support for the entire family who has owned the property for generations. Their latest project is the Lalo Loor Reserve. Bundling and connecting forest fragments, Ceiba has established a coastal corridor in this dry forest that is large enough and connected in such ways that its bio-diversity can be maintained and sustained.. Ceiba has the support of the mayor of the neighboring town and the landowners whose properties abut the forest corridor. Again they have built a visitors center which now operates education programs for local students and teachers. There are continually volunteers and Peace Corps workers incorporated into this program. For the past several years Ceiba has run an environmental ecology semester abroad program in Ecuador for college students. They also have a month long summer course for interested students and Ecuadorian scholarship students. The leaders have consistently gotten rave reviews from their students, many of whom go on to volunteer in Ceiba’s projects and to pursue a science curriculum. Through all of these programs, this organization has had an enormous impact on the environment. They have worked diligently to save many acres of land, educate the local people about the importance of the land, and the various ways it can be protected and useful at the same time. They are continually educating students of all ages about the importance of protecting these amazing resources. Through the diligence, devotion and energy of its leaders, Ceiba has developed into an extremely important environmental organization.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Visiting and working at El Pahuma, meeting their students,and helping with fundraising and office work.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the people who run it, their dedication and the beautiful places they have protedted and we have been able to visit.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...


If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world through the forests it could save and the education of people as to the importance of saving these beautiful and necessary bio-diverse places.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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Rating: 5 stars  

The two weeks I spent in Ecuador with the Ceiba Foundation study group and instructors Catherine Woodward and Joe Meisel were exceptional. As a long-time educator, I looked for and experienced things that I consider integral to a high-level learning environment.

First, the entire trip was meticulously planned and organized to offer a robust overview of the culture, the ecology, the wildlife, and the aspects of the land and sea that we must protect and preserve. In addition, the balance of listening, observing, questioning, and interacting was excellent and provided situations where deep and lasting learning was achieved. The instructors were well-prepared, cordial, caring, professional, and astute leaders. They love their work and their mission, and it is so apparent. They were able to personalize the study to the participants whose ages spanned more than fifty years. Certainly that is no small feat.

This was one of the finest learning experiences I have had. The work is important and should be supported to enable it to continue for years to come.

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Excellent attentive staff. Well-managed organization. Phenomenal and productive non-profit doing critical work!

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Rating: 4 stars  

I studied with Ceiba this summer as an intern on the Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve. I had an amazing experience exploring the plant diversity and plant uses in such a unique region of the world. The staff at Ceiba, both in Ecuador and in the U.S. are incredibly caring, helpful, knowledgeable, and passionate about their work. The Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve is a big part of nearby coastal communities in Ecuador, and it employes several local community members. This not only provided an enriching cultural exchange during my stay, but it demonstrates Ceiba's approach as a non-profit to work closely with communities and inspire residents to take ownership of projects impacting their environment. I would highly recommend interning or participating in one of their study abroad courses!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I studied abroad through Ceiba in Spring 2014, and I can say it was the best experience of my life. The passion with which Ceiba cared for the communities and environment where they worked was incredible and inspiring. I truly learned more in the one semester abroad about conservation than all the classes I had taken during the previous 3 years. An amazing experience that anyone who is interested in conservation should take a part in!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I participated in the semester long study abroad with Ceiba, and loved every moment and new experience I encountered. Joe and Catherine really facilitate a wonderful experience for their students, and they also contribute greatly to the people living in the communities where they work. Ceiba is the epitome of effective conservation work, they are small-scale but they have made more connections and implemented more programs to benefit the environment and the people than any large NGO could ever do. So proud and lucky to have been able to learn from them and their organization.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I spent a semester abroad with The Ceiba Foundation in Ecuador and it was easily the best five months of my life. I learned so much and got to participate in so many wonderful experiences. I would recommend everyone to do something with this fantastic foundation.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I did a two week study abroad course with Ceiba this past summer (2015) and I can say with great confidence that you will not find better and more passionate people to work with. Catherine was our professor and was by far the best teacher I have ever had. She was extremely knowledgeable about the people, the culture, and the nature that we experienced. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I learned a great deal in the short amount of time that we were there and I can definitely see why Ceiba works so hard to conserve this absolutely stunning part of the world. They are doing amazing work in Ecuador and I'm glad that I got to be a part of it.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered with Ceiba in Quito Ecuador during a two-week service-learning course. It was through this process I gained a deep appreciation for both water conservation as well as the unique culture of Ecuador. Through Ceiba's direct links to the local communities, I felt as though we supported a much larger cause in a way was well-received by the communities we served.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Going to the Tiputini Biodiversity Research Station in the Amazon truly changed my life and my perspective. While I consider it to have been one of the most challenging experiences of my life, both mentally and physically, it was an experience that I would not trade for anything. I am truly grateful to the Ceiba Foundation and to Catherine Woodward as well as all of the other instructors and guides at the station that allowed me the gift of being able to experience and learn in the most diverse and unique place.

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