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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Environmental Education, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Technology

Mission: In 2006, Earthwatch will sponsor more than 155 research projects in 48 countries and 16 US states, making estimated volunteer field grants of $4.2 million. Since its founding in 1971, the organization has supported over 1,322 projects in 119 countries and 36 states. More than 81,000 volunteers have contributed over $57 million and 10.8 million hours to essential fieldwork.

Geographic areas served: Worldwide

Programs: The Research ProgramEarthwatch supports scientific field research related to sustainable development conducted by leading scientists in a broad range of disciplines, from habitat management to healthcare.. Find past grant recipients and application guidelines at www.earthwatch.org/research.The Conservation ProgramEarthwatch promotes the establishment of strategic international and community partnerships in conjunction with multi-disciplinary research projects in some of the world's outstanding areas of ecological and cultural value. Earthwatch Conservation Research Initiatives (CRIs) are flagship projects that address complex environmental issues in Australia, Kenya, Brazil, and Belize. In each CRI, local conservation needs and goals are collaboratively defined with partner organizations, local community members, and environmental organizations. By engaging communities in setting priorities and securing their investment throughout the process, Earthwatch implements an effective community-based conservation model. Find more on CRIs at www.earthwatch.org/conservation.The Education ProgramEarthwatch is a respected leader in the field of experiential education. To date, more than 3,500 students and 4,000 classroom teachers have received career training and inspiration on Earthwatch expeditions. Fellowships funded by individuals, foundations, and corporations allow educators to teach "live" from the field through the latest communications technology or to improving the quality of geography education in classrooms. More info, and applications found at www.earthwatch.org/education.The Volunteer ProgramIn 2005, 4,190 volunteers hailed from all 50 US states and 79 countries. Volunteers are drawn from the public, as well as from key constituencies such as educators, corporations, artists, communities local to project sites, and partner organizations. Volunteer teams are intergenerational. They include professionals, students, educators, managers/administrators, scientists, engineers, and computer workers, and retirees. 94 percent have attended or graduated from college and 41 percent have a post-graduate degree. One third of Earthwatch Institute volunteers each year are returning volunteers, and several have participated on more than 50 projects.Earthwatch team members share the costs of research expeditions and cover food and lodging expenses with a pro-rated contribution. In 2006, expedition costs range from $395 to over $4,000, averaging $2,200 for 2-21 day team duration. No prior skills are required, except scuba certification for diving projects.Public OutreachThe Earthwatch Institute web site at www.earthwatch.org encompasses over 3,000 pages of in-depth project descriptions, Expedition Briefings, photos, news releases, and educational resources.Earthwatch experiences can have profound impacts on volunteers' lives, often changing how return volunteers think and act in their communities. The organization is aided by a network of over 150 Field Representatives in 39 US states and Canada. These veteran Earthwatch volunteers organize events and educational outreach, working toward Earthwatch's goal of building an engaged citizenry. Field Reps are listed at www.earthwatch.org/aboutew/fieldreps.htmlMembershipEarthwatch's 14,300 US members hail from all 50 states. Members receive the Earthwatch Institute Expedition Guide describing expeditions, and three issues of the Earthwatch Journal, as well as an e-Newsletter, with news, events, and expedition announcements. Earthwatch Europe membership tops 6,500.

Community Stories

8 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I was scheduled to go on a research expedition in the Bahamas this month. Unfortunately, on my day of departure, a major winter storm closed Charlotte airport and my plane did not leave Hartford. Because it was the beginning of February vacation week, it appeared that I would be unable to find another flight for three days and I would miss a significant part of eight full days on the project.

When I called Earthwatch I was told that I should "do the best I can" to find a flight and get there as soon as possible. Not much help there. I was concerned about missing so much of my project experience and asked if I had any alternatives, for example, would it be possible to reschedule to a later project as there are several others this year? A senior staffer told me that I could cancel my trip if I wished and the travel insurance (a portion of the $2775 donation to Earthwatch) could compensate me for travel costs, but the insurance would not reimburse me for any portion of the donation. Also, he said that I couldn't transfer my donation or any portion of it to a later project. Essentially, he was saying that the full responsibility for what is often described as "an act of God" fell to me; Earthwatch accepted none of the burden. Is that a fair way to treat volunteers? I don't think so. I think that Earthwatch needs to think about options for this type of situation.

Fortunately, I was able to arrange another flight that got me to the project just two days late, so I did get to participate in all the different kinds of activities. What I missed was an introduction and presentation of the research questions under investigation and the specifics about the methods that were being used. It wasn't until the final day when the principal investigator made a presentation to the group that I learned the five research questions that guided the project.

Another effect of arriving late to the project is that, thought subtle, I never felt that I was quite a full member of the team. I don't know whether I missed some team-building activity on that first day; if there was none, I would suggest that it would be a good addition to the orientation/introduction at the beginning of a project.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Earthwatch is an organization whose mission has huge potential, but through many, many years of in-fighting at board and senior management level - and financial mismanagement - appears to be imploding.
I worked for Earthwatch for nearly 10 years and cannot speak highly enough of those on the front line working long hours to keep the organization afloat. Those managing the organization however have been, and still are, totally out of their depth.
Earthwatch has had several different 3 to 5 year strategies in the last 10 years or so. None of which they have stuck with for much longer than 6 months. As all of the evidence on this website, and that of the UK charity commission suggests, the organization is failing. It is generating very little revenue beyond what it generates via it's partnership with HSBC Bank.

4 fieldworking

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Participating as a volunteer with Earthwatch was exactly what I needed to re-confirm what I already knew about myself (that I want to be a wildlife biologist). I first participated with Earthwatch in 2010. I traveled to Nova Scotia to volunteer on a small mammal project. The hands-on experience was fantastic and exciting to me, especially since I enjoy fieldwork. The scientists were amazing and very informative. For me, volunteering through Earthwatch gave me several things including (1) hands-on experience in wildlife biology, (2) travel, (3) see parts of Nova Scotia that most tourists wouldn't get to experience, (4) make a contribution to the scientific community, (5) meet people from around the world with similar interests, and (6) to meet scientists from other countries. This is a great way to give back to the environment, learn, travel, and to meet new people. I am looking forward to participating with Earthwatch again in 2013. I plan on volunteering through Earthwatch for as long as I am physically able to do so. If you are a teen (15 to 18), you can still volunteer. There are opportunities specifically for teens. They also have ones that are specifically geared towards families. There are opportunities for people of all ages and physical ability. Although it is a little on the expensive side, it is nothing compared to the experience and the memories that will obviously last a life time.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Earthwatch is a great organization to volunteer for and I hope to particpate in one of their volunteer research expeditions again (next summer).

6

Volunteer

Rating: 1

As a long-time volunteer, I know many of the staff at Earthwatch, and they are nice, for the most part. But I don't know what's going on there now because they have lost two top executives and the CEO has been forced out by the staff in the UK office. I'm not giving any more of my money to this organization until it straightens itself out. It needs to be more transparent. There is in-fighting at leadership and staff level between the US and UK offices and they have major money woes.

Review from CharityNavigator

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with Earthwatch allowed me to participate in scientific research. As a high school science teacher, I could "bring my students along" virtually through photos, videos, blogging and a live camera session. We took baseline data on trees in a wooded area (diameter, position, species, condition, etc.) for future comparisons by scientists investigating the effects of global climate change on forests. In the evenings and off times, it was interesting to share experiences with educators from all over the country. The scientists also educated us on climate change issues. I love being able to contribute to science!

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

My Earthwatch was an amazing experience that I used many times during my 30 year teaching career. I showed the slides and video that I took and explained the power of our our commitment. Over the years many students and colleagues joined Earthwatch Expeditions based upon my slide show and the excitement of my field trip experience.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a member of a team of grant-funded educators, I participated in field research about the possible evidence of global climate change at the boreal forest-tundra boundary near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. It was an amazing experience working alongside 10 other like-minded teachers under the supervision of a global climate change expert. I felt I was truly helping to make a difference in the study of global climate change. Actually experiencing the tundra and its environs, performing authentic scientific research, and witnessing firsthand the effects and changes evident in this remote yet awe-inspiring area will greatly enhance my teaching.