Early in the semester each student, with the help of program faculty, makes contact with a local conservation or research organization to set up an internship that takes place during the last month of the program. Conservation internships provide the opportunity for students to apply the background they have received in the ecology, environment, culture and language of Ecuador to work on current conservation or applied research projects. Internships are supervised by staff members of Ecuadorian organizations, providing for a mutually-beneficial cultural exchange, the potential for acquiring useful job skills, and a chance to become familiar with careers in conservation and associated organizations.
The Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation maintains a list of organizations from which program participants may select to do their internship. Interns usually work on an existing project together with the local staff, but in certain circumstances may conduct their own project that helps fulfill that organization’s mission. The types of projects are many and varied: interns may develop an environmental education program, assist in a biological survey or monitoring program, help with reforestation, work in a zoo or botanical garden, contribute to a community development project, volunteer in the operation of an ecotourism or alternative agriculture project, or participate in designing a reserve management plan. Through their internship, each student makes a tangible contribution to an ongoing project and acts as an “ambassador of goodwill” to conservation efforts in Ecuador.