Conservation Expeditions

Are you interested in helping conserve endangered species and experiencing diverse wildlife? Join an SSA Conservation Expedition for the chance to work alongside wildlife researchers and conservationists in some of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. You might find yourself on a remote beach helping newborn turtles travel safely to the ocean, trekking through the rainforest to observe endangered monkeys, or working with elephants in the middle of a Thai jungle. While our conservation work will be the focus of these expeditions, we spend the rest of the program adventuring in beautiful locations with a group of students from across the U.S.

Image of a student holding a baby turtle

Why Conservation?

The natural environments of our world are in danger. Millions of unique species are at risk of extinction, which impacts everything from the air we breathe, to the water we drink, and the land on which we live. Our approach is to get you, the next generation, involved through hands-on learning from people on the front lines of wildlife conservation. SSA’s goal is to support, inspire, and empower our participants to explore and pursue conservation-focused careers.

Disciplines covered include:

  • Community-Based Conservation
  • Marine Biology and Ecology
  • Tropical Rainforest Ecology
  • Zoology and Animal Behavior
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Botany and Agroforestry
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Indigenous Issues

Our Partner Organizations

We are fortunate to form part of a network of conservation professionals and organizations that have been recognized both nationally and internationally, and contribute meaningfully to both local conservation goals and scientific research in their fields of expertise. We are honored to be able to open up this network of opportunities to students participating in our Conservation Expeditions.

When deciding on an institutional partner for our Conservation Expedition itineraries, we look for organizations that match and shine in the following criteria:

Partner organizations must have a strong focus on community engagement, whereby their work encompasses and relates to the lives people that have the most direct effect (and are most directly affected) by the environmental issues at the heart of the organization’s mission.

Partner organizations must have a strong science-based mission or research component. We believe a good science program is a necessary basis for an effective and well-directed wildlife conservation initiative.

Our students contribute through hands-on fieldwork, camp maintenance, local environmental cleanups, or other projects that contribute to the initiatives of our partner organizations.

ECOMAR is a Belizean organization whose vision is to instill knowledge and compassion of the diverse marine ecosystems of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System so that compassionate and informed users will protect and conserve valuable and vulnerable marine resources. ECOMAR owns and manages a Marine Science Center on St. George’s Caye, a highly biodiverse yet understudied area.

Students on our Conservation Expeditions live at this center for multiple days and are trained in a variety of scientific methods to collect data on coral reefs, sea turtles, queen conch, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and Antillean manatees. Data collected is added to long-running datasets, which are in turn used to inform local and national policies that safeguard marine and historical resources. ECOMAR’s ultimate goal is to use this data to establish an underwater marine reserve.

Bring the Elephant Home (BTEH) is one of only a few community-based organizations in Thailand dedicated to the conservation of wild Asian elephants. Their initiatives are aimed at restoring natural habitat, stimulating responsible conservation tourism, and finding solutions to human-elephant conflicts. BTEH works with a small community in Kanchanaburi that sits at the edge of wild elephant territory, and represents a difficult human-elephant conflict zone.

Students on our Thailand Conservation Expeditions will assist BTEH by building watering areas in the forest that elephants can use during the dry season, which prevents them from coming into the villages in search of water. Students also volunteer on an extensive, year-round reforestation program, managed by BTEH. Along with the National Park System, BTEH also heads an innovative beehive-fencing project, which provides honey to local people, keeps elephants away from farmland, and increases pollinator diversity to positively impact crop yields.

Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) is a non-profit organization devoted to the research and conservation sea turtles in Costa Rica. Students on our Sea Turtle Conservation Programs assist in research efforts by conducting nightly beach patrols alongside trained field biologists to search for nesting leatherback and green sea turtles. Students help relocate eggs to a hatchery to prevent poaching, and take measurements of adult turtles. Our students also stand watch in the hatchery in order to count, measure, and release hatchling turtles as soon as a nest hatches.

A major component of LAST’s missions is to help educate, engage, and employ local people in their conservation programs, and help advise local and national environmental policy as it relates to sea turtles’ habitats and upstream factors that contribute to the health of marine and coastal ecosystems. The data that students collect helps contribute to the long-running datasets that help inform policy, and students also contribute to the well being of the local environment through beach cleanup efforts.

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