Studying with the Ceiba Foundation in Ecuador was my most rewarding educational experience. I was thoroughly impressed with how well the Foundation was organized and able to honor its goals of tropical conservation by educating communities in Ecuador as well as American university students.
I volunteered with the Ceiba Foundation at their Orchid Reserve just outside of Quito, Ecuador. After many years of working with a local family, Ceiba created a locally owned reserve where the land-owners were able to self-manage (and conserve!) precious montane forest that would have otherwise been destroyed. Their method of conservation can succeed in the long-run because it has personal incentives for the local people involved. Ceiba is a wonderful organization working for conservation in a country that has some of the most precious landscape remaining!
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.
I studied abroad with Ceiba the spring semester of 2010 and long story short it was a life changing semester. I met really great people who I'm still in contact with including students from the trip and both of my host families. Traveling to the cloud forest, paramo, dry forest, rainforest and the galapagos. At the end of the classwork we all had internships of our interest. I worked in the cloud forest with 2 Ecuadorian students collecting caterpillars and studying there parasitoids. My months in Ecuador were life changing and I learned so much. Before my trip I never understood how important conservation and all the facets that are needed to make a successfull program.
Cieba is a fantastic organization that far exceeded my expectations. Not only do the two founders do an amazing job at helping students learn as much as possible but they also are huge contributors to the local community and offer an amazing foundation of support.
I was able to travel with Ceiba to Ecuador for a semester long tropical conservation program. It was an experience of a lifetime. Not only was I taught to appreciate the wildlife but I was also introduced to a culture extremely different than my own. I see the world differently now and am truly a better person because of it.
The trip was just like entering into the discovery channel. We went all the way to the Amazon, saw parrots, sloths, snakes, armadillos, river dolphins, frogs, peccaries, Ceiba trees, and so much more while learning about the ecosystem of the rainforest. With hands on mini experiments, we learned more than we could ever by reading a text book because while we were there, in addition to the science course, we saw the impacts of humans, how locals viewed the forest, and how the government and corporations are changing the landscape.
But this is maybe like 20% of the trip. It gets better, much better.
The Galapagos, after the cold nights in Quito, was like a vacation inside a 'vacation'. And I say vacation, because even though we learned A LOT, it was much much more fun than the amount we learned. The instructors have experience, they know how things are done, they know what they're talking about, and they know how to enliven their students. The internship at the end was a very nice way to tie up all that we had learned and to use it practically in a way that each of us wanted to, because we could choose from a variety of programs dealing with a variety of things. There was a lot of freedom for such a structured program, which I personally loved.
I was a student studying abroad with Ceiba and it was undoubtedly the most influential and amazing semester of my college career. The things I learned and the people I met changed my life. My favorite parts were getting to see and experience the conservation projects that Ceiba has undertaken in the country and the huge impact that each project has had on the communities in which they have been located. Ceiba is an amazing organization.
The Ceiba Tropical Conservation semester was one of the best experiences I've had in college and quite possibly in my life. Ceiba has struck a perfect balance between challenging coursework and exhilarating field work to make the semester educational and fun. Specifically the internship portion of the program allowed me to apply what I had learned about sociology, ecology and conservation in class to a community. My global perspective on conservation developed as we visited different Ceiba conservation sites and directly saw the challenges that arise when talking about conservation on a global scale. I learned that stakeholders and their culture need a primary voice in any conservation effort and feel empowered to include conservation in whatever I choose to do professionally. Academically the program gave me the opportunity to get to know two incredible professors and learn from them in an extremely hands on fashion. The enthusiasm they have for conservation and learning in general was contagious and methods I learned from them will certainly contribute to my future academic success. Professionally I now understand the relevance and importance of addressing conservation in every career. A fire has been lit inside of me to seek ways to problem solve across boarders without being afraid of the challenges cultural differences may pose. I have been inspired to travel, and to work with the global community on conserving our planet.
My experience with Ceiba was life changing. I've always wanted to join the Peace Corps, but was always undecided about where to go and want I would do. But, after my time with Ceiba, I would really love to go back to South America and work on forest conservation and education. The program teaches students about the ecology and biodiversity of Eucador, while also explaining the challenges that face conservation. I think the work that Ceiba does is so important. They work directly with local people to give them more sustainable and economical options for their land. For example, they provide training and support for people in eco-tourism and reserve management. I also loved my experience at the Tiputini research station in the Amazon rain forest. We saw an anaconda and so many wonderful birds and monkeys. I really miss seeing monkeys everyday. That was great. If anyone wants to donate time or money to a nonprofit organization, I would recommend Ceiba. Your efforts would definitely get to the areas and people who need it most.
CFTC gave me a life-changing opportunity to see the Amazonian Rain Forest first-hand. The experience was wonderfully educational; I learned techniques for studying the environment; assessing water quality; identifying flora and fauna (including different types of monkeys); how to catch bats; how to catch a panther on camera, and much, much more. The food we ate was wonderful and memorable, especially the homemade yogurt; I learned what to be afraid of (urticating vines) and what not to be afraid of (venomous snakes - we didn't see any)...The trip up to the paramo was beautiful (if a little chilly. The orchid preserve was exotic and beautiful. The river dolphins were particularly special. I whole-heartedly recommend the CFTC to anyone who would like to learn the facts surrounding envionmental issues in the rainforest. Catherine and Joe know their stuff, and they make great hosts.