Conservation Volunteers – Frequently Asked Questions

 

How long can I volunteer for?
For U.S. citizens we suggest to volunteer with ACE from 8, 10, or 12 weeks. Twelve weeks is recommended to offer you project variety. Please inquire about serving up to 6 months or longer if you have professional or educational goals related to ACE service.

For international participants, we we offer multi-week commitments in our California and North Carolina branches, based on our field project needs. Please inquire with your booking agency about opportunities to serve over 6 weeks if you prefer and your travel visa permits extended travel. Projects are always in development, and more variety is expected. Please contact your local booking agent for updated information about our seasonal plans.” Conservation Volunteers do not receive a stipend or living allowance.

What are the costs involved?

Americans who apply directly and pay no fee for the program and can apply directly to ACE. All international Conservation Volunteers need to pay a booking fee to their respective booking agency, a list of which is available hereunder “International Applicants”. ACE provides housing, transportation, tools, work day shirts(uniform), tents, safety equipment, and food during project work days. The volunteer provides their own medical insurance and travel expenses to arrive and depart from ACE. We can also accept travel insurance policies that have medical coverage, many of the top companies can be found here www.bestshorttermplan.com and international volunteers should contact www.overseashealth.com

How much money should I bring?

This is our most common question and a difficult one to answer because most people have different spending habits. If you plan to cook in the house, don’t spend a lot of time downtown, and don’t plan on taking a lot of road trips, you can easily get by on $50 per week. If you will rent cars and take road trips to places like Vegas, LA, San Diego, or San Francisco most off periods, count on spending closer to $150 per week. And if go out a lot, plan on at least $200 per week. This does not include initially purchasing your sleeping bag, backpacks, sleeping pad, work boots, etc.

Is there an age limit?

Yes, we do not accept anyone under the age of 18.

Are there any physical requirements?

ACE is NOT recommended for individuals with respiratory problems such as asthma, as well as other conditions such as seizure, chronic fatigue, or chronic back injuries.

Do I need any previous conservation experience?

Volunteers need no experience in practical conservation. The only requirements are a sense of adventure, ability to clearly follow directions, a desire to make a difference, ability to be respectful to others, and a willingness to remain flexible and positive through ever changing project work, locations, and weather conditions.

How many days per week are the projects?

Projects typically last for 5 to 11 days on-site, and sometimes up to 3 weeks in some backcountry locations. Work days consist of 8-10 hours per day, 40 hours per week. This schedule allows for anywhere from 2-6 days off between projects, depending on number of work days you’ve completed. For example, 8 days on duty with 6 days off, or 4 days on duty and 3 days off.

Days off allow for physical relaxation, participation in cultural events, and exploration of our community and points of interest near your field project sites. For example, those a the California branch will see days off commonly in our housing locations of Santa Cruz or South Lake Tahoe, CA, but also are taken on-site all over the state due to logistical demands of the project location and to reduce driving time.

What are the accommodations during projects?

For those joining ACE in California, volunteers stay in one of the volunteer houses in either Santa Cruz or South Lake Tahoe (season and weather permitting) on days when they are not taking part in projects. The houses have a washer/dryer, and the houses have a laundromat just a few blocks away. Housing is communal, with 2-3 bunk beds per room and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. Housing is where volunteers store the luggage they’re not bringing on projects, such as suitcases and sport bags. There are also other secure locations for valuables such as lockers and a safe in the office for passports, tickets, and other smaller valuables. All ACE regions offer similar benefits and logistics.

Is food provided?

Food is only provided on projects. When ACE volunteers are on projects they cook with their teams, taking turns preparing meals for the group, washing up and keeping camp clean (this alone represents a sometimes comical, always rewarding, cultural exchange).

Can I choose my projects?

For U.S. Citizens: ACE will assign our Conservation Volunteers to rotating projects each week, we must always send our crews to where the community need is the greatest. Each season, ACE offers a wide range of projects and our volunteers will be offered various locations and learning opportunities as much as possible, but you cannot choose your project. Since all ACE projects are outdoors and the weather can be unpredictable at any time of the year, project descriptions are always subject to change. As one of our valuable crew members, you are welcome to make requests for personal and professional reasons and we will try to accommodate these requests.

For international citizens: Members will participated in specific specific projects each season that can accommodate our international members. Project are located in desirable areas that are in need of our expertise and effort. Please see your booking agent for specific details about project locations, as they do change throughout the season as new projects are awarded to ACE

Projects are dependent on weather, nesting and migrating seasons of native wildlife, immediate needs of project partners, etc. Friends and couples that come to ACE together should keep in mind that they cannot count on ending up on the same projects, or even have their days off at the same time.

What are the accommodations between projects?

Volunteers stay in either student apartments or one of the volunteer houses in Flagstaff, Santa Cruz, St George, or Asheville on days when they are not taking part in projects. The apartments have a washer/dryer, and the houses have a laundromat just a few blocks away. Housing is communal, with up to 3 bunk beds per room and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. This is where volunteers store the luggage they’re not bringing on projects, such as suitcases and sport bags. There’s also a safe in the office for passports, tickets, and other smaller valuables.

What do I need to bring?

These are items you MUST bring on every project:

  • Sleeping bag (rated 15F/ -10C or below)
  • Thermarest or comparable sleeping pad
  • Large backpack (3,000 cubic inches/50 litres or larger)
  • Leather hiking boots or work boots (they must end above your ankles)
  • Long work pants (jeans or Carhartts)
  • Water resistant rain jacket and rain pants
  • Pullover, sweatshirt and other warm clothing. Do not make the mistake of bringing only summer clothing unless you intend to buy warm clothes in Flagstaff
  • Warm gloves and hat
  • Pullover, sweatshirt and other warm clothing. Do not make the mistake of bringing only summer clothing unless you intend to buy warm clothes in Santa Cruz
  • Daypack (smaller backpack for work days. You’ll put your lunch, water and whatever else you’ll need during the day in it)
  • HEALTH INSURANCE (You will not be permitted to volunteer without health insurance)

What to do during your free time?

ACE volunteers enjoy 2-5 days off between alternate project weeks. One of the benefits of ACE is the ability to use this time to travel with new friends, explore endless beautiful areas, and to socialize with other volunteers from the US and from around the world.

If you are under 21 and do not want to spend several weeks or months without drinking alcohol, unfortunately you will not be able to participate in ACE. As a general principle, we support your time-off activities if they are legal based on local and state laws, and safe. Illegal, unsafe, and disrespectful activity will result in immediate dismissal from ACE. Drug users are not welcome and should not consider applying to the program. Evidence of drug use or possession will constitute immediate termination of your volunteer commitment.

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