Earthwatch is in the process of revitalizing the Ignite student fellowship program; for that reason, it is on hold for summer 2024. We are also seeking funding to expand Ignite to serve students in cities beyond Los Angeles. If you are interested in learning more about the program or providing financial support for it, please email us at



Ignite your passion for science. Join the expedition of a lifetime.

Love science and nature? Apply for an Ignite fellowship and spend two weeks next summer on a fully-funded research expedition studying wildlife alongside real scientists and other students. Now in its 30th year, this all-expenses-paid fellowship aims to spark curiosity and a passion for science among Los Angeles County high school students aged 15 to 18.



Summer just got lit.

Surrounded by stunning natural scenery, you and your Ignite peers will conduct hands-on field and laboratory research—the real work of science. Whether you’re counting critters in coastal tidepools or measuring and weighing baby owls in their nests, you’ll be collecting the data needed to help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. 

You’ll also have the chance to bond with other students or the research staff during free time and group meals, hear guest speakers discuss important sustainability issues, and explore the beautiful natural landscape you’ll call home for the duration of the expedition. Recent Ignite expedition locations have included:

  • Schoodic Education and Research Center in Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas
  • The Fox Hill Salt Marsh and The Marsh Meadows Salt Marsh along the Rhode Island coastline
  • Southwestern Research Station, Arizona
  • Crow Canyon Archeological Center, Colorado
  • Flathead National Forest, Montana
  • Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah



Discover the world of opportunity waiting for you: 97% of Ignite alumni say the program helped them understand new possibilities in life, and nearly two-thirds choose to write about their Earthwatch experience in their college essays. Apply now for your opportunity of a lifetime!


A group of students hiking up a wooded trail towards the mountains.
Two students examining and recording data on vegetation.
A young man sketching alongside a lake and trees.


About the Ignite Awards

Our generous donors want to support and inspire creative high school students by immersing them in the hands-on practice of real-world science. Thanks to their funding, an Ignite fellowship covers all costs associated with participation on the expedition, including roundtrip travel, meals and lodging, research activities and laboratory fees, and recreational day activities.

In return, Earthwatch asks each student to support its mission and ensure the program’s renewed funding by completing a Volunteer Evaluation at the end of the expedition. We also ask fellows to provide a Field Report within 30 days after the expedition’s end, including an essay describing their field experience and a thank-you letter to their funder. We also appreciate being alerted to any media coverage you may have received from your participation.

Student Qualifications

We are currently applying for funding to grow this program in new cities. If you are interested in learning more about the program and how you can support it, please email us at


A group of Ignite fellows conducting research in Rhode Island.
Four girls taking a moment to take a picture while on their fellowship.
A girl looking for caterpillars on a transect while on Climate Change and Caterpillars.


Share your passion and stay involved.

Check out our Earthwatch Ignite Facebook page to connect with past student fellows, share stories, see the latest expedition photos, and find out when an Earthwatch representative is coming to your school! You can also find updates about our upcoming expeditions or application deadlines and get your questions answered by past team members and Earthwatch staff.



Follow us at “Earthwatch” on Facebook and Instagram and find us on Twitter at @earthwatch_org to see photos and updates from the field and to learn more about our expeditions!


It was my first real exposure to doing research, especially such hands-on research with so much responsibility in my hands—and it turns out I love it.

Grace Cortese — 2018 Ignite student fellow


Be more than a tourist

Experience hands-on science in some of the most astounding locations in the world. Meet a community of like-minded travelers and return home with stories filled with adventure.

Browse Expeditions

Forest Illustration


Earthwatch depends on donations—above and beyond what we raise from volunteers who participate on our expeditions—in order to deliver our global conservation mission. In fact, volunteer contributions provide only half of the total resources Earthwatch needs to sustain over 40 field research expeditions, a wide variety of educational programs, corporate sustainability trainings, and more each year.