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Frequently Asked Questions



Earthwatch Funding:

We follow a per-capita model of funding, with final field grants based on the number of participants fielding on the project. Participants pay to directly assist scientists with their work afield. Typically, projects require 30-60 participants per fielding season, distributed over multiple field teams. For example, during a given year, a principal investigator may run 4-8 teams of 5-12 participants per team.

Annual budgets range between US $20,000–$80,000, with most of this covering project participant expenses. We provide funding for 3 years, subject to passing an annual performance review. Funding is renewable, upon submitting a research renewal proposal.

Earthwatch grants help cover project expenses while afield including:

  • field equipment
  • PI and co-PI transport to the field
  • participant field transportation (note: citizen-scientist participants are responsible for getting to rendezvous location near research site)
  • field technicians
  • support staff (including: cooks, logistics coordinators, wildlife guards, etc.)
  • food and housing for PIs/co-PIs, field technicians, and Earthwatch volunteers

Annual budgets range between US $20,000–$80,000, with most of this covering project participant expenses. We follow a per-capita model of funding, with final field grants provided based on the number of participants fielding on the project.

We do not fund:

  • scientist salaries
  • student tuition
  • institutional overhead
  • capital equipment
  • post-fielding data analysis

Funding is contingent on volunteer recruitment. We provide funding for 3* years, subject to passing an annual performance review. Funding is renewable, upon submitting a research renewal proposal, which undergoes external peer review.

*Mean years of support for 62 projects supported between 2008-2014 was 8.8. Some projects have received support for over three decades.

Due to safety concerns, we are unable to support any research projects in the following regions: Earthwatch “No Go” List, with no exceptions.

Earthwatch Requirements:

All PIs must have a PhD from an accredited academic institution in the area of study of the proposed project. Graduate students currently working on their PhD may have their faculty advisor submit a proposal for their research. The advisor must be listed and function as the PI of record and maintain all scientific oversight of the research until the student’s doctoral degree is awarded. All PIs must be affiliated with a university, government agency, or science-focused NGO.

All PIs who receive Earthwatch funding must complete the following documents:

  • Emergency response plan
  • Risk assessment
  • Expedition briefing
  • Annual field report

Your program manager will furnish details.

Earthwatch Participants:

Earthwatch recruits participants worldwide. Earthwatch projects are run in English and participants range from 15-80 years in age. Participants are non-specialists and are not required to have any previous experience prior to joining scientists afield.

Yes. Earthwatch works with the PIs that it supports to determine participant physical requirements (e.g., activity level) for the project. The fitness level required to participate, including swimming ability, is indicated on the project webpage and briefing.

Participants do not need previous research experience or skills. Earthwatch staff prepare participants for the field using materials developed by the PI and our organization, such as the project’s web content and briefing document. Briefings are viewable on project webpages: http://earthwatch.org/expeditions. PIs and their staff are responsible for training participants upon arrival to the field.

Earthwatch participants can greatly increase the data-gathering capacity of field-research projects. Participant tasks must directly contribute to research objectives and collect data that will be used for analysis. Participants typically are able to perform many of the ecological sampling tasks assigned to field technicians, such as:

  • distance sampling;
  • water quality monitoring;
  • animal tracking and focal observations;
  • sample collection and preparation for future lab analysis, including soil cores and plant specimens;
  • radio-tracking;
  • camera trap deployment, image recovery, and species cataloging;
  • BRUV monitoring and cataloging;
  • nest monitoring (birds and sea turtles);
  • assessing forest structure (measuring DBH, canopy cover, etc.);
  • field chores and equipment maintenance.

In addition, on numerous occasions Earthwatch participants with specific professional expertise— from computer programming to electronics to construction —have made valuable contributions to research efforts.

Miscellaneous:

Prior to submitting a pre-proposal, please address questions regarding applying for funding to the Research Department at research@earthwatch.org.

At the full proposal stage, your assigned program manager or research manager can respond to questions. The invitation you received when invited to submit a full proposal contains contact information for these individuals.