Jan Kleinman | Thursday, July 30, 2015
“Busy, productive, fascinating”
Having been a volunteer in campaigns, schools and other community settings, I know how one can feel useless if not deployed in meaningful work and/or without sufficient training. This Earthwatch expedition KNOWS HOW TO USE VOLUNTEERS EFFECTIVELY. The coordinators explained clearly both how and why to do each task. They engaged us in a variety of activities, each of which illuminated and contributed towards either biological knowledge or conservation. Moreover, they did so most of the time, so we had just enough (not too much, not too little) free time between tasks.
Biological tasks we did included camera trap maintenance, photo tagging, scat washing, and vegetation plot surveys. In most cases, we were offered a second chance to continue these activities if we liked them. For example, one camera trap was located rather farther away and in a hike-in only location. We were offered the choice to hike out and do more camera trap maintenance, or stay near camp and do more vegetation plot surveys. Once we knew how to do a task, the second time we felt more useful.
Conservation tasks we did included invasive plant removal, fence removal, and snare removal. The nightly lectures explained background information about animals, local people, and conservation efforts. We understood why we were asked to tramp through and around thorny bushes: to save leopards and native species.
The collaborative spirit of the researchers, their student assistants, and staff infected us.:)