Amazon Field Volunteers - Program Description

An Amazon Field Volunteer is a special kind of volunteer who assists a Center for Amazon Community Ecology research or community support project in the field.  This is a service learning opportunity for people who want to experience the Amazon rainforest first hand and play an active role in supporting its conservation and traditional peoples.

How do Amazon Volunteers help our program?
The first way that Amazon Field Volunteers assist our program is by helping the Center carry out its field projects with contributions of their time, energy and money.  They can help our education and outreach efforts by sharing what they have learned about the challenges and opportunities in the Amazon in their home communities.  We invite all Amazon Field Volunteers to share their experiences in our newsletter Amazon Connections and Amazon Journal Blogs on our website.  Click HERE to read about the experiences of volunteer Marissa Plowden who assisted the copal research project and volunteered in the local health clinic in Jenaro Herrera, Peru.  Volunteers can also help strengthen and expand relationships between communities in the Amazon and caring partners beyond.

What do Amazon Field Volunteers get out of the program?
For someone who has never been to the Amazon, seeing its plants, animals, and traditional peoples would be a thrill.  Amazon Field Volunteers, however, go beyond just observing this fascinating environment.  They gain a deeper understanding of the rainforest by directly assisting ecological research.  They can earn the satisfaction of helping to strengthen a traditional community and conserve threatened forests.  The friendships and memories made during these trips can last a life-time.  The experiences can help launch a new career or fulfill a dream. 

How can I become an Amazon Field Volunteer?
The Amazon Volunteer program is flexible and designed to match the interests, abilities and time of volunteers with the needs of Center projects.  A potential volunteer should first send an application to the Center that provides some personal background and specifies the project or type of project they would like to join.  The Center will review the application and contact the potential volunteer to discuss their involvement.  We are very willing to work with students or others to conduct an internship, study abroad project, community service project, or undergraduate/graduate research project.  We are also open to discussing opportunities for small groups from a school or organization to volunteer on a project together.

Where and when are there Amazon Field Volunteer opportunities?
The Center is currently working in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon on a research project investigating the ecology and sustainable harvest of copal resin.  See the project description for more details about this and the potential role of Amazon Volunteers in it.  The field work for this project is taking place at several sites within a day’s journey of the city of Iquitos on the Amazon River.  In 2007, another project will be starting in the Brazilian Amazon.  Contact us for updates.  Amazon Volunteers will typically join a project for one to eight weeks.  Longer periods can be discussed.

What does it cost to be an Amazon Field Volunteer?
The cost for joining a Center project as an Amazon Field Volunteer will depend on the type and location of the project, the length of involvement, and resources the Volunteer can contribute.  In general, volunteers are expected to pay for personal expenses related to their participation in the project (trip preparations, transportation, food, and lodging) and make an additional contribution to the overall expenses of the project.  Requests for student projects will be considered on an individual basis.  Round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Iquitos, Peru for example range from $800 to $1100.  Expenses for food and lodging in the field usually range from $20 to $50 per day. Contact us to discuss specifics.

What qualities and skills are needed to be an Amazon Field Volunteer?
The most important qualities for Amazon Field Volunteers are a strong desire to learn and work in a cooperative team environment and a willingness to respect people from different backgrounds and cultures.  We are open to working with responsible people of any age who are in good health and willing to assume the risks of traveling in the tropics.  The level of comfort available at field sites will range from camping situations to lodging in simple clean housing.  Volunteers are not required to have any specific skills, but an ability to read, write, do simple math, take photos, and enter data on a computer are some basic skills commonly used in projects.  Familiarity with basic first aid is another valuable skill.  Language proficiency in Spanish (or Portuguese for projects in Brazil) is encouraged but not required.  Volunteers with a background in areas relevant to a specific project (for example biology, ecology, forestry, anthropology, education, health care, or marketing) will be particularly welcome.


Download an Amazon Field Volunteer Application

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