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!
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!
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.
I was impressed with the Ceiba philosophy of giving local landowners an economic interest in preserving their land. It is a sustainable