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2015 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

50 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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

Previous Stories
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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!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My husband and I were community members for the Ceiba Galapagos trip, Spring 2015. It was one of the best trips we've ever had. From the expert teaching of the U of W professors, to the fantastic students, to the staff on board our boat...all was terrific. We loved the wild life, the hikes, the snorkels, and the interaction with the students. To lie out on the upper deck of the ship, full moon rising, the Southern Cross above us, and a frigate bird drafting us: complete heaven!!

Ailsa H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The most amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity, that will teach you more than you thought you could ever learn in 5 months! The instructors are the best people I think I have ever met. So grateful to have had this experience, and I would not trade it for anything.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Best experience of my entire life!
Spent a semester hiking around in the rainforest, swimming with sea turtles, and learning about conservation!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a student with Ceiba's Tropical Conservation Semester for the spring of 2015. It was with out a doubt the best 4.5 months of my life. I met life long friends and had a truly unique experience. I learned so much from the two most knowledgeable and caring professors I've ever had. Whether I was navigating the streets of Quito, hiking through the cloud forest, bird watching from the crown of a 45 m tall ceiba tree, swimming with caiman in the Tiputini river, swimming with sea turtles and sharks in the Galápagos Islands, or just relaxing on the beach, I was always aware that Ceiba had thrown me into the adventure of a lifetime. That list seems pretty good but it doesn't come close to capturing all the experiences I had in my semester in Ecuador. This trip changed my life. Do yourself a favor and just go.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter spent a semester in Ecuador studying with Ceiba and I was fortunate to be a part of the program for 10 days during the Galapagos portion of the program. It was quite simply not only a spectacular experience, but a reinforcement of the crucial need for biodiversity. There is no better way to learn then hands-on instruction by experts. Any one involved in this program will be spurred to conserve tropical treasures by seeing and experiencing the incredible beauty of the natural world. The program was extremely well run and packed with activity and challenge combined with tons of fun. I am encouraged by the work of the Foundation to believe we can preserve fragile environments for future generations to enjoy.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't say it better than the raving reviews already posted for Ceiba. They do amazing, innovative work to conserve some very important tropical ecosystems. I spent one month in Ecuador learning from their professors and experiencing first hand the wonders of the places they are fighting to conserve. I can't thank them enough for the work they do. It had a profound impact on me.