Posts Tagged ‘Earthwatch’

Corporate Forestry

FedEx Enchanted Forest

It is, of course, very popular to find fault with large corporations these days (very popular, and not an incredible challenge, actually…so many international companies make themselves easy targets). Since multi-nationals are a part of our universe, I am always pleased when I discover ways they get things right. A couple of large companies have recently come to my attention for their focus on climate change and their efforts to engage the public in environmental care.

HSBC, one of the world’s largest banking and financial institutions, has partnered with volunteer service company Earthwatch, the Climate Group, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and WWF to inspire action and dig deeper into climate change with their 5-year Climate Partnership. The goal is to engage at least  100,000 of HSBC’s international workforce to take on decisive action for the environment. They have already set up regional climate centers in China, India, Latin America, North America, and Europe for local research programs and field work, since forests are so different from place to place. HSBC employees can elect to work in the Climate Champion program, working with the scientific community, to help monitor forests, and educate their colleagues, families, friends, and communities.

Federal Express has launched an online initiative (via facebook), called the Enchanted Forest, as a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and FedEx’s own eco-focused organization, EarthSmart (solutions for a more sustainable world). When you go into the animated Enchanted Forest and elect to plant a virtual tree, FedEx translates that action into planting a real tree, aiding reforestation projects in areas affected by wildfires and drought. Click to plant often, and encourage others to do the same, as large companies can put some focus on green that isn’t printed at the treasury.

New Voluntours: Elephants in Thailand & Dolphins in Egypt

Photo: EarthWatch

There are exciting new volunteer vacations popping up these days. One of the leaders of the industry, Earthwatch, has announced two new research-based voluntour opportunities.

In Northern Thailand, near Chiang Rai, be part of groundbreaking cognitive research of Asian elephants to help professionals understand how they communicate, recognize family members and places, and how they interact with other species (including humans). The research team is studying elephant intelligence and behavior, and you’ll be working up close and personally with these astounding pachyderms. You’ll live in a guesthouse for the 10-day assignment, within easy walking distance from the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, where this landmark research is being done.

Photo: EarthWatch

While the tensions have once again erupted in Cairo’s squares, the Egyptian Red Sea is still a calm environment, where 15 species of dolphin cavort in nearly pristine waters. Marine pollution, however, is creeping in, so scientists need to get a clear picture of the cetacean populations and how they interact with their habitat so they can put protection measures into place before irreparable damage is done. This is where you come in as you help researchers with boat-based visual and acoustic observation work to gather data, as well as surveying sea turtles, jellyfish, and seabirds while living on a safari boat. It is a 10-day trip in amazing surroundings.

Let’s Go!

Travel for Good///Travelocity and Voluntourism

Sometimes I just make things harder than they need to be. Who among us can’t say THAT, right? I beat the virtual bushes of the Internet trying to find blog subjects that turn me on, and hope they might light a spark among someone else as well…and there is so much that goes on right underneath my nose.

I recently booked a trip through Travelocity to do a volunteer stint in Idaho next week (more on that later). Travelocity is a search engine I use fairly often when booking stuff. Then this morning I grabbed a t-shirt to put on as one of many layers to go out to shovel some more snow…and it was a shirt I’ve had for a few years: Travelocity—Travel for Good. I had forgotten about their green travel and voluntourism programs until the reminder was literally on my chest.

Travelocity has a Travel for Good portal as part of their site ( where you can find eco-friendly vacation options as well as volunteer vacations through their partners (really great partners such as Earthwatch, American Hiking Society, Cross-Cultural Solutions, and Globe Aware). They even go so far as to offer voluntourism grants of $5,000 (two awarded per quarter) to volunteer travelers to make making a difference accessible to more of us.

The green travel section has carbon offset plans, lists of eco-friendly green hotels, and links to find a hybrid rental car.

I feel a little foolish that a resource I already make use of has been quietly doing good, as their motto says: “One Trip at a Time”…but if I’m going to feel foolish, it’s good to also feel good and proud that the choice I made in the travel marketplace is aligned with what is most important to me.

Camp Schmamp

Are there teenagers in your home (or circle of friends) looking for summer plans? If you’ve got camp lanyards and wallets enough to last a lifetime, and the staff at Camp OkieFanokie defers to your judgment because you’ve been around longer than any of them…seek an alternative that can really make a difference for the teen, and the rest of us.

Earthwatch (one of my very favorite volunteer vacation organizations with amazing service trips for adults, teens, and families) still has some slots open for their brilliant, summertime Teen Expeditions. From their website: Join an Earthwatch teen expedition and you’ll work alongside experienced scientists at the cutting edge of conservation research, gaining first-hand knowledge of and trying to find real and achievable solutions to some of today’s most pressing environmental challenges.

You’ll connect with other young people who share your passion and energy for conservation, immerse yourself in new cultures, see some of the world’s most spectacular places, and help to conserve them.

How about options like: Studying pink river dolphins, monkeys, and other wildlife in the Peruvian Amazon; an archaeological dig in Britain discovering Roman ruins; working with rare carnivores in Madagascar; studying climate change on habitats near the Arctic Circle; working with scientists and coffee farmers in Costa Rica; monitoring mammal populations in Nova Scotia; Caribbean sea life study in Belize; biodiversity work in Kenya; protecting Grey Whales in British Columbia, and more. The work is true and productive, with leaders in the scientific field. It is usually a commitment of less than 2 weeks (trips vary) and is super-professionally managed and catered to the age of the participants with education and exploration, and experiences that just don’t happen at the run-of-the-mill swimming hole…and CERTAINLY offers more than a summertime of facebook and Wii.