Runa Foundation

Forest Conservation and Agroforestry Internship

Tena, Ecuador show on map
Non-profit
Runa Foundation
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Coordinator | Michaela
Coordinator | Michaela
Come join us in developing innovative projects in collaboration with community members to sustainably conserve and reforest the Ecuadorian Amazon. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+
Our Forest Conservation and Agroforestry interns will work with staff collaboratively on various projects. One example of a project is supporting in the creation of a baseline monitoring system of activities that occur in communal forest reserves and protected areas. You will use GIS to create maps that outline areas of production, conservation, and communal reserves.

Other potential activities include:
  • Drafting management plans with communities related to sustainable forest management, women’s empowerment, agroforestry production, and wildlife monitoring.
  • Monitoring biodiversity factors in 6 model farms throughout the region.
  • Planning and assisting with workshops on reforestation, conservation, community development, and guayusa harvesting.
  • Reporting on findings from household, timber harvest and agricultural economic surveys. 
  • Placing camera traps in the forest reserves near the communities to create a wildlife census.
  • Work with communities to plant guayusa and other trees in conservation buffer zones.

We recommend that interns commit to 8-12 weeks minimum commitment on the ground in Ecuador, have an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency (or a strong motivation to learn quickly before and upon arriving!), and bring knowledge in their area of research if looking to do a personal project.

For those interns looking to do their own research or fieldwork for university - we offer the knowledge and time of our network, technical knowledge and informational databases, access to communities, NGOs, government agencies, and consultants, and pre- and post-research support.

Interns are expected to finance their own travel costs and food and will receive a packing list upon acceptance. On our end, we provide interns with a coordinator as well as a supervisor within the organization that guides and mentors with your particular work area. Additionally, the organization provides:

  • A pre-departure orientation (general and specific information about Ecuador, logistics and a Skype meeting)
  • 3-day in-country introduction and orientation that addresses risk management, culture shock symptoms and remedies, cross-cultural adaptation skills, intro to history/culture/politics of the Ecuador and the Amazon, team-building amongst interns and staff, setting a vision and goals for your experience, and more;
  • Coordination of projects and activities and mentorship in your field of interest;
  • 1:1 coaching/check-ins every 3 weeks to track goals, check in on health, support with challenges, and providing feedback;
  • 24/7 emergency support;
  • Thorough vetted network of doctors, therapists, Spanish tutors, organizations, etc. in the country;
  • Space for learning and reflection with other foreigners having a similar experience;
  • Re-entry training;
  • Alumni group and future references.

Interns must also cover:
  • Full travel & medical insurance
  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Necessary flights & visas

Typical day

Typical days are rare when working on the ground for a small non-profit that collaborates with several different actors and projects! Additionally, intern work is designed with progress and needs of the current projects in mind, so this is ever-changing. Here are some examples of how different each week can look.  One week you may be staying with a family in a community and learning about their chakras which are traditionally planted, agro-forestry farms or gardens. These days often start at 7am with early morning farming and harvesting, pausing at 10am due to rain, returning to the chakra after cooking lunch, learning about the sustainable farming practices of the chakra, and ending with a traditional meal with your host family. Another week, you may be staying at the foundation's intern house in Tena and be in the office from 8:30-4:30 collaborating with other interns and staff on climate mitigation and other agro-forestry projects. 

Details on Arrival

Dates: Dates are flexible throughout the year. Internships are 8-12 weeks (longer also possible with visa).

*Summer internships are competitive and fill up fast, so please apply ahead and there will be specific start dates for the summer*

The best airport to fly into is Quito (UIO, Mariscal Sucre International Airport) as it is only 4 hours from the project. You will be put in contact with the director of the program upon applying and they can give easy to follow instructions to get to the project Headquarters from Quito or Guayaquil International airport.

Free-time activities

Tena is known for it's world class rivers - for white water kayaking, rafting, canyoning, canoeing, paddle boarding, and swimming. There are also endless hikes to waterfalls, canyons, caves, and communities to explore! 
Water Sports
Swimming
Concert/
Music
Sightseeing
Shopping/
Souvenirs
Climbing
Safari/
Zoo
Hiking
Sports
Riding
Yoga/
Meditation

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level) and Spanish (basic level)
Required Documents
Resume
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Experience in Latin America and/or working in a rural setting desirable
Intermediate Spanish proficiency (or a strong motivation to learn quickly before and upon arriving!)
Bring knowledge in your area of research if looking to do a personal project.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:30 - 16:30

Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Runa Foundation cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Runa Foundation.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Runa Foundation (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Runa Foundation

-Pre-departure materials and support

-Lodging in our fully-equipped intern house (wi-fi, electricity, water, cleaning, etc)
-A thorough orientation that addresses risk management, culture shock symptoms and remedies, cross-cultural adaptation skills, intro to history/culture/politics of the region, team-building amongst interns and staff, setting a vision and goals for your experience
- 1:1 check-ins every 3 weeks to track goals, check in on health, support with challenges, and providing feedback
- 24/7 emergency support
- Thorough vetted network of doctors, therapists, Spanish tutors, organizations in the country
-Provide a space for learning and reflection with other foreigners having a similar experience
- Re-entry Training
- Alumni group and future references
- Homestay experience with an indigenous family

**Food and travel expenses are not included
*** Homestay includes meal and lodging

Accommodation
“Casa Runa”, our intern accommodation is a spacious 2-story apartment and sleeps up to 10 people. It is located right on the malecon or boardwalk of Tena, and is convenient walking distance to everything in the city. The house has a kitchen, three dorm bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, two patio balconies (one with a growing urban garden!), hammocks to relax in, and a beautiful view of the city, river, and surrounding mountains and jungle. It’s a short walk from river swimming spots with an amazing views, and the main town's boardwalk which is a fun place to hang out.  Volunteers and interns are responsible for their own food, but often cook communally. The house is fully equipped with all bedding is provided, water, electricity, WIFI, cleaning services, and everything you need in the kitchen - stove, toaster, pans, cutlery, fridge, etc.

Casa Runa is also a quick walk or bus ride to forest hikes and waterfalls. A bilingual (English and Spanish) intern program manager lives nearby and will be happy to help you with any questions or doubts you may have.

Interns work together weekly on Monday mornings in what the local Kichwa language calls mingas, or community work time. During this time, there will be opportunity to garden, cook together, and get creative to figure out what you can contribute to the house and Runa community. 

Tena is the regional capital of Napo and has around 20,000 inhabitants. Local agriculture consists of corn, yucca, bananas and plantains, all produced for either subsistence or sale at the local market. The only 2 crops grown for exportation are cacao, native cinnamon, and guayusa.

Napo is a region that attracts many tourists who want to experience the Amazon. Puerto Misahualli and Baños are popular destinations and especially geared towards tourism. You will not find tourists in Archidona, and only a few in Tena, which makes the immersion in a local environment even more tangible.
Dorm Room Guest Family Guesthouse
Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito. We assist you to find cheap flights to Ecuador.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Ecuador provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Ecuador you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Ecuador.
Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
$ 400
3 weeks
$ 515
4 weeks
$ 629
5 weeks
$ 744
9 weeks
$ 1,202
17 weeks
$ 2,119
40 weeks (max. stay)
$ 5,900
Average fees
$ 174 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Tena/Ecuador between 2 weeks and 40 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Runa Foundation will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Ecuador.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Runa Foundation during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Americas South America Ecuador  Tena, 15 de noviembre

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Reservation
The project site is open in: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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