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.
It's like a light switch went on and my world is brighter.
Guadalupe Lufio — 2015 Ignite student fellow
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!
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.
Selection Process and Application Timeline
June: Applications open for the following summer.
December: Applications are due in early December. Keep in mind the application requires at least one recommendation from a teacher (preferred), coach, mentor, instructor of an extracurricular program, or group leader (two recommendations are encouraged)
March: Receive notification from Earthwatch on whether or not your application was successful. The Ignite LA program awards fellowships to more than 60 students each year from dozens of high schools all over Los Angeles County
June–August: Participate on a scientific field research expedition for 12-14 days during your summer vacation
Ignite is seeking applications from Los Angeles County high school students who are:
High school sophomores and juniors age 15-18
Creative thinkers and motivated learners
Available for 12-14 days in the summer
Excited to work with a team of students and scientists on a research project in the United States
Meet our generous funder: The Durfee Foundation
The Durfee Foundation has been supporting Earthwatch student fellowships since 1990. It is a family foundation that seeks to reward individual initiative and leadership and build community in unexpected ways.
Over the course of our 30-year partnership, Earthwatch and the Durfee Foundation have sent nearly 2,000 students from over 270 high schools on 300 fully-funded research expeditions. Those student fellows—more than half of whom went on to major in science in college—have contributed approximately 136,000 hours on hand-on field research that has directly advanced scientific knowledge and environmental conservation.
Before Earthwatch, I thought scientists just sat in a laboratory all day and looked at mice. After Earthwatch, I realized that I was completely wrong—scientists get to be out in the elements and actually explore the world..
Andrea Gamino — 2013 Ignite fellow, Mammals of Nova Scotia
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.
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.