Updated September 14, 2021

As the global stage turns to face climate change and the impact of human activity on our environment, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a dedication to environmental work is needed now. In fact, “green careers” are expected to rapidly expand in the coming years.

But, how can you make an impact today? As a student, it might be disheartening to think that you need to pursue a career in environmental sustainability in order to make a difference. That couldn’t be further from the truth!

In addition to daily sustainable lifestyle choices, there are ample opportunities for students to volunteer for environmental causes! And, since the environment and climate change have such far-reaching effects, there’s a huge need for well-informed organizations and volunteers to help.

If you’re interested in learning more about environmental volunteering and sustainability, read on to hear about AMIGOS programs and our approach!

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What is Environmental Volunteering?

Environmental volunteering doesn’t have a one size fits all definition. Generally speaking, it refers to work undertaken to benefit the natural environment. There can be different types of environmental volunteering, such as practical, community-based, or social.

Practical: You’re probably most familiar with what practical volunteering for the environment looks like. This could be physically upkeeping the environment (think planting trees, pulling weeds, removing an invasive species, etc.) This could also be something more specific and unique to an ecosystem or region; like installing solar panels, marine coral reef management, or bird tagging.

Community-Based: Community-based environmental volunteering is all about bringing a community together to create a local impact. Examples include community gardens where members learn about sustainable agriculture, an ecotourism community agreement, or forming a community trash clean-up and compost system.

Social: Social environmental volunteering opportunities may come in the form of peer-to-peer education, speaking engagements or campaigns, or even social media posting. Opportunities usually emphasize teaching others about the importance of tackling climate change and learning about the many complicated facets of the issues that stem from climate change.

It’s important to remember that all of these opportunities are equally important. Climate change is a complex issue, so the solutions will be just as complex! Every action does make a difference.

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How Does AMIGOS do Environmental Volunteering?

AMIGOS is currently operating programs in Costa Rica, Colorado, and Ecuador. Each of these areas offers unique environmental volunteering opportunities! Make sure to check out our programs page for full information on each project.

In Costa Rica, the country’s incredible biodiversity and diverse landscapes offer endless volunteer work opportunities which focus on the environment.

For example, on our Los Santos, Costa Rica Project, students explore sustainable farming practices in the Brunca region of Costa Rica, which is known for its coffee quality, and learn about community-led conservation!

On our Montanas y Mar and the Cartago y Caribe, Costa Rica Projects, students will travel to the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest to explore how climate change is affecting local communities. Then, you’ll spend time at the Caribbean coast working on a wildlife conservation initiative focused on sea turtles.

On our La Costa, Ecuador Project, students will explore Ecuador’s Pacific coast while getting to know locals running community-led recovery efforts and natural resource conservation initiatives!

Finally, in Western Colorado, volunteers will do hands-on volunteer service and learn from local leaders to hear their vision for the future of Colorado’s natural environment.—all while exploring some of the country’s most majestic scenery!

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Partner Agencies, Approach, and Sustainability

Like all of our volunteer programs, AMIGOS relies on our partnerships across Latin America and the United States to ensure the sustainability of our programs and that our work leaves a positive impact and legacy. Every environmental volunteer opportunity is created in conjunction with our partner agencies—local NGOs or government agencies—and volunteers support these efforts and learn about the work being done locally to tackle these issues.

AMIGOS believes in the power of all people to be lifelong leaders, and we know that young people today will be the leaders tackling climate change (and many already are!) If you’re interested in learning about the interconnectedness of the global factors contributing to climate change, and how local efforts to combat climate change are being put into place, we have the perfect programs for you.

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Want to do environmental volunteering with AMIGOS?