Students who hope to volunteer overseas may feel passionate about protecting wildlife or preserving the environment for future generations. These causes are vital to the continued health of the planet's natural habitat and the creatures that inhabit the wild. Young Americans looking to gain valuable international experience while learning more about conservation and sustainability practices have a myriad of choices.
Restoring the Balance
Overseas projects in which many U.S. citizens participate are focused on saving indigenous ecosystems. In many countries outside the US, lumber operations and mining for fossil fuels have endangered the environment through deforestation and disruption of the landscape.
Participants in volunteer overseas programs may find themselves working to restore the fragile ecological balance by planting trees and installing irrigation systems to ensure that flora can thrive in areas affected by the depletion of natural resources.
Another important activity for conservation groups is taking direct action against pests and natural threats, such as insects. Julianne P., a volunteer overseas candidate who worked in Queensland, Australia, was part of one such initiative.
"...We worked under the leadership of Biosecurity Queensland to locate and eradicate a particular species of ants, Anoplolepis gracilipes," said Julianna. "It's thought that they were introduced from Africa, but now in Australia they have become a danger because of their ability to form super-colonies with more than one queen, and the damage they have done to crops and native wildlife."
Making a Difference
In other instances, participants on volunteer overseas programs have helped convert old mines into conservation museums, minimize the damage from pollution and litter on Australia's beaches, and ensure that choking shrubs and weeds do not damage indigenous crops. In a country as vast and diverse as Australia, there is a variety of challenging and rewarding work to be done.
"Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better experience," said Eric A., a volunteer who worked in New South Wales, Australia. "I know that this experience changed me for the better and opened my eyes to the world around me. I feel so much more in tune with my surroundings, and I have the opportunity to take this knowledge and experience with me wherever I go in life."
No matter where they travel around the world, young Americans on volunteer overseas programs can do their part to preserve the delicate balance of the natural world. Not only will they meet new and interesting people and embark on an adventure, but they'll create memories that will last a lifetime.