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What can Earthwatch offer?


Who is eligible for support?


How does the Earthwatch financial model work?


What is covered in a field grant?


How long does the grant last?


Who are the volunteers?


What are some tasks that Earthwatch volunteers can perform?

Projects are evaluated based on scientific merit, safety, logistical viability, appropriateness of volunteer field tasks, and our available support for the project.



What can Earthwatch offer?

Earthwatch grants are based on an innovative but well-established model of recruiting enthusiastic and committed volunteer field assistants. We welcome proposals for long-term support. We form partnerships with key institutions to communicate the results of our projects to a wider audience in the environmental sector.

Earthwatch is a leader in the area of health and safety in field research, a skill we share and train our scientists in. We have been supporting projects internationally since 1971 and have a very experienced staff network to provide guidance and support.


Who is eligible for support?

Earthwatch supports doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, or researchers with equivalent scholarship or commensurate life experience. Earthwatch welcomes applications from advanced scholars and professionals of any nationality.

Applicants intending to conduct research in countries other than their own are strongly encouraged to include host country nationals in their research team.


How does the Earthwatch financial model work?

Earthwatch awards research grants on a per capita basis; the total amount of the grant is determined by multiplying the per capita grant by the number of Earthwatch volunteers participating in the project. Since volunteers make a financial contribution to participate in an expedition, Earthwatch similarly makes grant awards based on the number of volunteers. Per capita grants average $850, and most grants range between $17,000 and $51,000 for one full field season. A project usually involves a total of 30 to 60 volunteers per field season, with 4 to 12 volunteers each on 4 to 10 teams throughout the year. Each team typically spends 1 to 2 weeks in the field. Shorter and longer teams are encouraged as appropriate. Recently Earthwatch has started to support one-day expeditions in urban centers.

Sample field season:

Team 1: June 1–15
Team 2: July 1–15
Team 3: August 1–15
Team 4: September 1–15
Team 5: November 1–15



What is covered in a field grant?

Earthwatch grants help cover the expense of maintaining research staff and Earthwatch volunteers in the field, including:

  • Food, accommodations, and in-country travel
  • Principal investigator travel to and from the field
  • Basic field equipment, including equipment rentals
  • Support of staff and associates from the host country

Earthwatch does not provide funds for capital equipment (e.g., vehicles, boats), principal investigator salaries, university overhead, or preparation of results for publication.

In addition to the basic level of support provided through the contributions from volunteers, Earthwatch works with selected scientists to secure additional funding to maintain and enhance their research projects.


How long does the grant last?

Each grant is awarded on an annual basis. If the project reports successes in terms of research results and volunteer evaluations, the researcher is invited to renew. Every four years a renewal proposal is required, outlining research progress and updating research objectives in line with questions that have been answered.


Who are the volunteers?

Earthwatch recruits volunteers worldwide. These are some characteristics of typical Earthwatch volunteers:

  • 16 to 85 years of age
  • College-educated (40 percent have a graduate degree)
  • English-speaking
  • Willing to donate time, money. and services to scientific field research
  • Committed to becoming involved in identifying solutions to scientific, environmental, and cultural questions and issues

Many volunteers take their research and conservation experience back to the workplace and integrate the knowledge they have gained in their business and other activities


What are some tasks that Earthwatch volunteers can perform?

Earthwatch volunteers can greatly increase the data-gathering capacity of field research projects. In the past, volunteers have been successfully used to:

  • Excavate and map archaeological sites
  • Photograph and record sounds of marine mammals
  • Record and document music, dance, oral and folk traditions, and vernacular architecture
  • Monitor water quality in lakes, streams, wetlands, and agricultural areas
  • Track animals and observe their behavior
  • Collect and prepare plant specimens
  • Survey flora and fauna
  • Study the applications of indigenous knowledge to sustainable agriculture and development
  • Gather ethnographic and public health data
  • Teach appropriate technologies and construct solar ovens
  • Study threatened marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mangroves, and estuaries
  • Assist with underwater archaeology
  • Conduct basic research in geology, volcanology, paleontology, geomorphology, glaciology, and hydrology
  • Study the causes, effects, and mitigation of coral bleaching
  • Study the causes, effects, and mitigation of coral bleaching
  • Share all field chores associated with professional field research

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



Step 1: Submit a Concept Note


Puerto Ricos Rainforest

If your Concept Note raises interest, you will then be invited to submit a Research Proposal.

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Step 2: Submit a Research Proposal


Whales and Dolphins Under the Californian Sun

After your Resource Proposal is received, an Earthwatch representative will be in touch with you to discuss details of your proposed program. If approved, we will help you launch your project.

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Step 3: Launch Your Project


On the Trail of the Giant Panda

Find out what happens if your research proposal is accepted, making you an Earthwatch scientist.

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