F.A.Q’s

Intern/Volunteer FAQ

 

About our companies

Ecorana Environmental is a Canadian-based eco-travel and environmental education company that specializes in designing and organizing low-cost applied learning holidays for students, researchers, and eco-tourists. Ecorana has teamed up with T.R.E.E.S (Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society) in Belize to offer their clients a truly unique experience living in the rainforests of the Maya Mountains at the T.R.E.E.S Hosting Center, a registered tourism facility. T.R.E.E.S is a grassroots not-for-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Belize’s natural and cultural heritage through scientific research, education, local capacity building, and creating income-generating and other community projects that increase the well-being of the people and their surrounding environment.

All of the internships and volunteer projects based out of the T.R.E.E.S Hosting Center are geared towards conservation of the flora and fauna of this extremely biodiverse area, and/or improvement of the lives of the nearby community members. Interns and volunteers play a large role in helping Ecorana and T.R.E.E.S meet their objectives thus you can be assured that your efforts and internship/volunteer fees are used directly to cover the costs of creating/running the internships with any profit going directly to sustaining the local not-for-profit programs.

What is the total cost of the internship?

The cost of an internship or a volunteer position is $25 US/day ($175 US/week). This includes lodging in the shared cabins (maximum of five same-sex interns to a bunk-house) or in tents (individual) on thatch-roofed palapa platforms (tents, mattresses, and bedding provided) on site and access to communal kitchen facilities, bathrooms, hot showers, electricity, a computer workstation and Wifi, as well as training by local experts.

Meals are not included in this price, and food must be purchased and prepared by interns in the communal kitchen. All bedding is provided but interns/volunteers are expected to bring their own towels and other bath essentials.

Flights are not included in the internship cost, and Ecorana does not provide transport to/from the internship center as the center is on a main bus route and easily accessible by public transit.

Interns/volunteers are required to show proof of their own emergency travel medical insurance prior to or upon arrival at the center.

What are the food arrangements?

Meals are not included in the internship cost; food must be purchased and prepared by interns in the communal kitchen, which is well-equipped with a fridge, coffee maker, toaster, food storage areas, stove(s), cookware, dishware, silverware and basics like oil, spices, etc. The internship centre is located on a main highway where buses are readily accessible; the nearest towns are about a 45 min bus ride away in either direction. The bus costs $1.50 US per direction. Groceries can be bought in the markets in town; the price of food in Belize works out to roughly $5 US/day/person.

What is the length of the internship/volunteer period?

The suggested length of an internship is 6 weeks to really get a feel for the project and grasp the skills and make the most of the training opportunities; it can be shorter or longer if desired. The minimum period for an internship is 4 weeks, and the minimum period for volunteer work is 2 weeks.

Is there any form of scholarship available through T.R.E.E.S. or Ecorana to subsidize the costs of the internship?

Unfortunately, our companies do not have funding to provide subsidies. We do consider reducing fees for people that we feel are truly skilled with a lot of experience in the internship topic that would be able to take a leadership role, though we may not be able to reduce the fees completely as we need to at least cover our costs of having interns stay and learn. Depending on the project we bring in local experts to teach which we have to pay, and we also have to hire employees to work with interns on various projects.

We encourage students to look into grants/scholarships from other sources; there are a lot out there that are not tapped into. For American students, here are some possible sources:

http://www.volunteerforever.com/article_post/200-volunteer-abroad-study-abroad-scholarships-grants

http://www.gooverseas.com/scholarships-volunteering-abroad

http://www.gooverseas.com/blog/65-study-abroad-grants-and-scholarships

http://www.sit.edu/studyabroad/959.htm

We may consider reducing fees completely (though still cannot include food) for volunteers that are skilled and would like to help in the areas of educational programming and teaching, marketing, organic gardening, guest hospitality, accounting, and/or reservations. Waived fees only apply to volunteers wishing to stay a minimum of four weeks.

What is the work schedule like?

The schedule largely depends on the project. If you are working more or less independently on a project or on volunteer work, you have a large amount of control over your own schedule. It is expected that a minimum of 5-6 hours per day, five days per week (Monday to Friday), are spent on project time. There are many side projects, in addition to this, that may be carried out on the premises if desired. Projects with more participants will be more tightly scheduled, but will follow this general pattern.  For now, all projects carried out at the station (including the trail building projects) will be within a 2 mile radius of the station’s main facilities and thus interns will be able to

Are the internships open to graduates, or only to students?

The internships are open for applications from whoever is interested!

What other things should I prepare myself for?

Interns should make sure they have received required vaccinations prior to coming to Belize. Please refer to the travel visitor guide that is sent with your registration package.

T.R.E.E.S. is a field station in the jungle. Although we are off a main highway and accessible easily by road, we are still nonetheless located in the jungle in a remote, rural area of a developing country. As such, interns should prepare themselves to experience cultural differences and accept that they may not have all of the products available that they may be used to.

Interns must also be able to adapt to the presence of fauna that many find intimidating and disturbing, including venomous snakes (though they are rarely seen) and a plethora of scorpions, spiders, biting flies, and other creepy-crawlies that some people might not be accustomed to (though very few are harmful).

What are the registration steps?

1)      After you have supplied us with your resume and cover letter, we will contact you within a week to let you know if we consider you to be a suitable candidate for the position. If you are short-listed for the position and can confirm that you are available for the dates we suggest, we will schedule a short phone/Skype interview within that week. Following the phone interview we will notify you if you are selected for the position.

2)      Once selected, we will send you a registration package which includes:

  • Guest information form (includes information on medical insurance coverage, emergency contact info, and food and other allergies)
  • Deposit/Cancellation/Payment form
  • A waiver release form

3)      All forms need to be filled out, signed (electronic signature will suffice), scanned (unless using e-signature), and sent back to us by email to: registration@ecorana.ca

4)      You will need to pay a reservation deposit of $50 US (information on this deposit is included in the form that we will send you) and will need to notify us of how you would like to make the payment. We will then send you the necessary information for allowing you to make the payment.

5)      You will be sent an email confirmation stating that we have received your reservation deposit and your position will be held.

6)      You will be reminded 60 days prior to the internship/volunteer position start date and will receive an invoice at this time detailing the total amount owing for the position. You can choose to pay 50% deposit at this time, or the full amount if you wish.