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Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation Inc.
September 27, 2011

I had an excellent experience as a student on the Ceiba Foundation's Tropical Conservation Semester program. The course offers a unique combination of cultural immersion and practical instruction in field ecology. Students are paired with host-families in Quito, where they get an intimate experience of Ecuadorean culture and an intense sink-or-swim Spanish language immersion. Classroom lectures give students a nuanced perspective on biodiversity and evolution. Group discussions explored many of the complex social and ecological challenges of conservation programs in developing nations, with a sensitive look at the interests and agency of the indigenous population.

The program's time in the field constitutes a second kind of cultural immersion. Students explore an incredible diversity of landscapes. They learn to identify the organisms, observe patterns, become comfortable in the field, and design and execute experiments.

The program culminates in a month-long internship with the conservation-related organization of the student's choice. It is a phenomenal opportunity for hands-on, direct action, and it endows students with a sense that they have the capacity to affect positive change. It also provides them with unique insights into the human experience of poverty in an environment rich in endangered natural resources.

Above all, they grow their own visceral sense of biophilia; the experience as a whole nurtures a deep appreciation for the intrinsic value of biodiversity. Students will carry this appreciation with them to any future career, and it will color their opinions about conservation and their decisions as workers, donors, citizens, and voters. I cannot overstate my gratitude to the Ceiba Foundation for my experience as a student, and I cannot recommend the program highly enough.

The Great!

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

I spent several weeks at conservation sites managed by the Ceiba Foundation. They maintain the integrity of precious ecosystems, offer a unique educational and recreational experience for visitors, and establish a mutually beneficial relationship with the owners of the site.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I have no complaints. The organization's model is so admirable that I only wish it had the resources to expand the scope of its operations.

More feedback

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Absolutely. I made many cherished new friendships. I improved my Spanish language ability, learned to identify and appreciate flora and fauna in novel ways, learned the fundamentals of organic agriculture, and designed and executed field experiments.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

I radically reassessed my concept of what I was capable of, what changes I could affect in the world, and how happy I could be.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

MY ROLE:
Volunteer & I studied tropical ecology and conservation biology in Ecuador and volunteered at an organic farm and in small public works projects in the surrounding village.