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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Educational Services, Environment, Forest Conservation, Technology

Mission: 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: We work with local communities to protect forests and create sustainable livelihoods.

Geographic areas served: Ecuador, South America

Programs: Tropical Conservation Semester Galapagos, Andes and Amazon study abroad program - Tropical Ecosystems: Andes, Amazon and Pacific coast summer field course - Jama Conservation Corridor - Lalo Loor Dry Forest reserve and biological station - Internships and volunteerships in habitat conservation, environmental education, community development, reforestation, and scientfic research - El Pahuma Orchid reserve

Community Stories

63 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Ceiba in the summer of 2016, and could not have asked for a better experience. As an intern with the water quality project, I took river samples to test for water quality, and worked on a community education day to promote clean water. Interns were given some freedom in designing their own projects, but staff members were also able and willing to help shape and assist with the projects. I learned so much, and was surrounded by an incredibly supportive community of staff and interns. Ceiba does great work, and I highly recommend working with them!

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ceiba-foundation 10/31/2017

Thank you Becca! We enjoyed working with you at the Bosque Seco Lalo Loor.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I studied abroad with Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation in the spring of 2016. Choosing this program was one of the best decisions of my life. The semester was the most busy and enjoyable experiences I have had in my entire college career. I have nothing but positive words to say about Ceiba and fantastic experiences to speak of. From day one Joe and Catherine were always very welcoming and made everyone feel like family. They cared more about us than any other professors could have. Their genuine care extended past the scope of the classroom, they wanted to make sure we had a good life with our host families both on the mainland and on the Galapagos Islands. The intensive Spanish immersion, cultural immersion, opportunity to visit multiple habitat types, and being able to participate in an internship were the reason why I chose to study abroad with Ceiba. Traveling to the many habitat types allowed me to get a better sense of all the things going on around me (from flora to fauna). Spending a lot of time in nature was one of the best parts of the program because it gave everyone the opportunity to reflect on themselves and figure out what things are actually important to them. The internship was a fantastic opportunity. It mainly involved organic agriculture and eco construction. I was able to spend it with three other program members. Since we did not have much access to electronics we became a very close-knit group. After all of the experiences I had in Ecuador I can honestly say that I could always trust and relay on every member and instructor of the program. Please do not hesitate to be part of something great with Ceiba, I know it will something you will not regret.

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ceiba-foundation 10/31/2017

We're grateful for your review, Zach. I'm glad you had a great experience during Ceiba's education program. Thanks for participating!

Tania P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Asistí para un curso a la Reserva Lalo Loor, quede muy contenta por el trato hasta las maravillas dentro del área es un Bosque Seco Tropical bien cuidado, que puedes observar hermosas aves y por la mañana escuchar a monos aulladores, mucha fauna y flora variada. Realizar el sendero por las mañanas reconforta y te libera de lo cotidiano del diario vivir. Es admirable como la organización trabaja, gestiona para conservar, preservar esta área. Recomiendo que visiten este lugar y también den su apoyo con comentarios, fotos, vídeos para que compartan con sus amistades para que puedan acudir a este paraíso.

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ceiba-foundation 10/31/2017

Gracias Tania por sus comentarios! Espero que regrese y que comparte las maravillas del bosque tropical estacional con sus amigos y familiares.

Teal G.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was fortunate enough to study abroad with the Ceiba Foundation on two separate occasions. The first was my freshman year of college when we navigated our way to the remote Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon Rainforest. The second I arrived home, I knew I would be joining the semester study abroad with Ceiba. My Spring semester of junior year I was then able to return back to the country I fell in love with in order to greatly expand my experiences and knowledge. Both of these programs offered more than I would ever even think to ask for. The excitement, energy and knowledge that Catherine and Joe have regarding every ecosystem of Ecuador as well as broader conservation and environmental concepts is mind boggling. I gained and retained more knowledge during my semester abroad then I ever would in a typical semester or even year. The experience is extremely hands-on, allowing every student to really understand the concepts and receive the highest benefit from the experience. Catherine and Joe sincerely care about their students, in addition to the communities and families they work with. When meeting various individuals with which Ceiba has a relationship, the appreciation and love that they have for one another is extremely evident. The Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation is committed to their mission and goals. Both Catherine and Joe inspired me with their passion and drive to pursue college degrees in Botany and Conservation, and then to continue onto grad school to earn my Environmental Conservation Masters Degree. I would not have wanted to study abroad or explore Ecuador with anyone but Ceiba!

Steven B.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My freshman year I was lucky enough to be able to travel into the depths of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador as part of a research project and conservation effort with the Ceiba Foundation. It was here, after climbing 400 steps of a spiral staircase surrounding an 800 year old tree to watch the beautiful sunset over the lush green rainforest that I came to the realization that I i wanted to dedicate myself to service and pursuit of becoming a doctor so that I can help heal those in need so they can follow their aspirations just like Ceiba inspired in me.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Ceiba Foundation this year at their Bosque Seco Lalo Loor Reserve in Jama, Ecuador. The experience was exceptional! Every member of the staff I interacted with was welcoming, knowledgeable and deeply committed to conservation and environmental education.

Ceiba has a huge local impact and is well respected by locals. The field staff provided me all the necessary equipment and support to conduct my project. They also gave me ample freedom figure things on my own until I hit roadblocks.

The lodging deep in the jungle was memorable. Waking up to howler monkeys and toucans calling is something I want to do again. The food prepared at the reserve is delicious, local and always fresh.

If you are looking for a great field experience or to donate to a worthy non-profit, I highly recommend Ceiba.

Jake W.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I studied in Ecuador in the spring of 2015 as part of Ceiba's Tropical Conservation program, and I was not disappointed. There was so much that we did there that there was almost no time for relaxation, and that was okay because Ecuador has so much to offer. We studied at the university in Quito, trekked the Andes mountains in vastly different climates, hiked through the Amazon rainforest, explored the wonders of the beautiful Galapagos Islands. I very much enjoyed the Amazon and Galapagos Islands and the flora/fauna they housed. One of my favorite parts of the program was the internship at the end of the semester. I interned on an organic coffee farm with 3 other guys, and it was probably the best experience I have ever had. We planted crops, were introduced to the whole process of coffee making, milked cows, learned about the flora, and best of all had no electronics...total bliss! I would highly recommend this program because it isn't all about the learning, but also about the experience and people of Ecuador. Lastly, Joe and Cath were/are my favorite professors coming out of this trip. They are so knowledgeable about everything from flora/fauna to culture to where to go in Ecuador, and they helped each and every student with any question they had. Do not hesitate to go on this awesome program!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am actually a Project Manager for the Ecuador Program of the UW-Madison Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. We are partners with the Ceiba Foundation, and without their assistance our projects would not happen. From lodging, to transportation, to acquiring materials, and helping us with in-country contacts, the Ceiba Foundation has helped our group tremendously! Everyone who works there is also so welcoming and helpful, it feels like we are going home whenever we visit. Gracias por todos!!!

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ceiba-foundation 10/31/2017

Thank you EWB! You're work in the communities surrounding the Lalo Loor Dry Forest reserve have had such a tangible positive impact. Our contribution to the amazing work you are doing is small, but I'm so happy we have had the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of young engineers! We look forward to continued work with EWB!

Nicholas S.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Ceiba comes from when I attended the Tropical Conservation Semester Program in 2016. The entire semester of travels throughout Ecuador was undoubtedly the most impactful part of my college experience. It was a great time spent both in the classroom, and outside exploring Ecuador's various ecosystems. Even better, ere the many times the classroom was outside. Walking alongside our professors Catherine and Joe, learning first hand from Biologists about the areas, and species they've spent years studying. Whether in El Pahuma Orchid Reserve, learning about the easement they brought into fruition, or at Bosque Seco Lalo Loor on the Pacific coast, the Ceiba impact is a part of the country of Ecuador now.
Even more impressive in my impression of our foundation, was when a massive earthquake struck Ecuador in April 2016, Ceiba became a huge part of the rebuilding process on the coast, and drew resources from their network pool to create a strategy with the community they have fostered a relationship with. That speaks volumes to how the Ceiba foundation is viewed within Ecuador, and for those who have been apart of their experiences.

1 Siena M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a Tropical Conservation Semester alumni and I could not be more satisfied with my experience with Ceiba. The five months I spent in Ecuador were some of the best of my life, and I learned skills and gained experiences that will be invaluable to my future career as a wildlife biologist. Where else could you get such a state-of-the-art education on tropical, alpine, and marine ecology? I was also impressed with the value of the program considering its cost. Every penny was well spent. Not to mention I made lifelong friends and mentors in the process. I strongly recommend this organization to anyone with a taste for adventure and a love for the outdoors!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ceiba is a great organization that does the groundwork to be extremely productive in the goals that they are trying to reach. I did an education program through Ceiba where I learned about what they do. Not only is Ceiba a great non-profit, but Catherine and Joe are two of the most knowledgeable people in the field and ones that you most certainly can trust.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a student in Ceiba's Tropical Conservation Semester, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The places we traveled to, the research we performed, and the conversations we had absolutely changed my life. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this program was for me and how grateful I am to have had this experience. It's difficult to imagine a more profound or comprehensive study abroad experience in Ecuador. Catherine Woodward and Joe Meisel were phenomenal instructors that helped me to grow both as a scientist and as a person. Thank you!

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ceiba-foundation 10/31/2017

Thank you so much for your kind remarks. It was a delight to have you on our program!

Caden L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a student who studied abroad with the Ceiba Foundation Spring of 2016, and it was the most life-changing opportunity in my life! The work that this organization does makes an enormous difference in the lives of so many people from around the world by providing sustainable alternatives of income and tourism, while also offering educational opportunities. If I could relive my time spent with the Ceiba Foundation, I would choose to do so without any hesitation. I highly recommend working with Ceiba to anyone!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Ceiba staff is incredibly knowledgeable group that does great work providing educational tools and opportunities for local communities

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Ceiba is doing wonderful work in environmental conservation in Ecuador and offers a strong program for volunteers and students to be a part of this work. There are many different focus areas to choose from and I especially appreciate that Ceiba is now becoming more involved in the local community. Volunteers can get valuable hands-on experience in conservation or community programming and will work on a variety of tasks. While the on-site staff was great, the administration was unorganized including sending me to an office that no longer existed for orientation, then not even having orientation materials prepared for me, among other things (only reason I'm giving 4 stars not 5). Other than that, you will have a wonderful experience and participate in meaningful environmental, community, and inter-cultural work if you choose to volunteer with Ceiba!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization provided me with a life-changing semester of learning, personal growth, and friends. Ceiba understands the social, scientific, and economic dimensions of conservation and is great group to donate to! Though I would strongly encourage participating in one of their programs also.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a student on Ceiba's tropical conservation semester program. It was an incredible experience overall. I learned a lot of course work as far as conservation biology, and tropical ecology. The best part for me about this course work is that I actually got to experience it, and not just read about it in textbooks. I hiked around the amazon identifying plants and birds, and then even carried out my own mini research project with a group. The experiences did not stop there as I was also able to snorkel in the Galapagos identifying fish, other marine organisms, and I completed another research project in the Galapagos. Ceiba also did a great job of including many cultural experiences throughout the semester. For example, we talked with the family that runs of the reserves Ceiba helped start, El Pahuma, and had to hear their side of the story. Ceiba has many connections in Ecuador, and they clearly have a good relationship with the local people that they work with. I met many great people working for Ceiba in Ecuador. Ceiba also is a very organized non-profit, and I never felt like they did not know what they were doing. In summary, Ceiba is a great non-profit and I would recommend working with them.

Donor

Rating: 5

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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Former staff

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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