Ecology & Sustainable Agriculture Internship

founded in 2021
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Coordinator | Joshua
Coordinator | Joshua
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Engage in a hands-on internship within low-income communities in rural Ecuador
Design a personal programme based on your own skills and interests
Receive 1:1 support form our team and get connected with key local stakeholders in the community
Live with a host family in a rural community: practice your Spanish and learn about a different way of life
Go on adventures with other interns/volunteers within less than an hour - hike in the mountains, bird watch in the jungle, and explore colonial villages
Hands-on, personalised internship helping indigenous Andean communities transition from deforestation/agrochemicals towards more regenerative agriculture and ecosystems. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+


El Terreno is on a hillside in the little-known province of Bolívar, just outside of the quaint colonial town of Guaranda in central Ecuador. It's nestled in a valley surrounded by traditional farmland and indigenous communities, with a spectacular view of the majestic Chimborazo Volcano (the point on earth closest to the sun!)

Ecuador is the 8th most biodiverse country in the world, yet only the 74th biggest. The province of Bolívar, with ecosystems ranging from highland deserts (4,000m+) to the coastal tropical forests (300m) has some of the country's widest variety of flora and fauna. Although stunningly beautiful, the province is one of Ecuador’s poorest. There is a high rate of malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty. With few employment opportunities, most high-school graduates quickly leave to the larger cities and the indigenous language and culture is under threat. Most of the rural population work the land for a meagre income, with the recent rise in living costs and the reduction of fuel subsidies their real wealth has declined further.

Since the 1970's, the temperate valleys have relied heavily on agrochemicals to fertilise the soil and kill insects. This has degraded the soils and contaminated the rivers and drinking water. Native forests have been replaced with fields and eucaliptos trees; biodiversity has plummeted, water security is under threat and landslides are common. Since the war with Ukraine, the cost of agrochemicals has gone up significantly, but the sale price of the limited range of produce they grow (corn, beans, potatoes, grains) has remained similar. 

It is clear that something needs to change, but there is not the governmental support to make that happen. We are on a mission to bring diverse perspectives from around the world to design innovative solutions to these problems, so that we can stimulate socioeconomic development while also regenerating these delicate ecosystems. So come and bring your passion and expertise to help these local farmers work towards a more meaningful, prosperous and sustainable future through an internship.

Through your internship, you will learn about the regional challenges. Once you have selected one that excites you, you will receive support to dive deep into the problem to understand the underlying causes, impacts and possible solutions. Possible solutions may include ideas such as sustainable agriculture practices, water harvesting and filtration, eco tourism or natural building. If your research proves promising, will look for the resources to implement your project, and bring your ideas to life!

  • Research regional challenges
  • Identify a personalised internship
  • Build relationships with local stakeholders
  • Investigate the causes of the problem
  • Quantify the impact and likely trajectory
  • Create a project action plan
  • Research possible alternatives
  • Build a realistic plan and strategy
  • Create a predicted timeline
  • Develop a budget
  • Present your findings to local stakeholders
  • Community engagement
  • Project management
  • Research and data management
  • System design
  • Presentation skills
  • Integrated teamwork abilities
  • Immersion in a unique local culture in its native environment
  • Improve your Spanish abilities


As a centre of cultural exchange and social innovation, we bring together local Ecuadorians and others from around the world through sustainable tourism, culture, education and ecology – to create a more meaningful, sustainable and prosperous world.

We’re in the early stages - starting in July 2021 - but we have big ambitions! We aspire to regenerate local ecosystems, build pride in indigenous culture, provide dignified employment opportunities, offer a wide variety of unique eco & community tourism experiences, and ensure volunteers like you learn new skills, meet extraordinary people and leave with unforgettable memories.

My name is Joshua; I’m 34 and from the UK. I first came as a backpacker to Ecuador in 2013 and fell in love with the place - the people, the culture, the biodiversity and of course, with my Ecuadorian partner, Karina. In 2017, I returned on a one-way ticket and after time spending 3 years searching the country looking for land, we found the perfect spot to begin building a vision we had been nurturing for many years. We are also expecting our first child un June 2022! More recently, we've been building a team of locals and international volunteers to help our programme grow and thrive.

Typical day

You will have a flexible work schedule, personal mentoring and the resources required to reach your goal.

  • 8am: Self-prepared breakfast in local family homestay
  • 9am: Independent working on project
  • 1pm: Lunch
  • 2pm: Free time / internship mentoring
You will wake up each morning in a private room with a local family in the village of Atandahua. After making your breakfast you will begin you independent working programme - working in the fields with some local farmers, researching online looking out over Chimborazo volcano or presenting your ideas to key stakeholders.

We will provide you a cooked lunch (Mon-Thu), you will join other interns and international volunteers in the casa comunal (village hall) to share some social time and relax. Afterwards, you might decide to go for a walk in the beautiful surroundings or have a 1:1 coaching session with our team around your internship.

On the weekends, go off exploring the rest of Ecuador. Within just an hour, you could be swimming in pristine waterfalls, learning about the surrounding indigenous cultures or hiking above 5,000m at the foot of the point on earth closest to the sun. Alternatively, go a bit further to the outdoor adventure paradise of Baños or visit the beautiful colonial architecture in the capital Quito, UNESCO's first world heritage site.

Free-time activities


With your time off, you can take a walk around any of the beautiful local trails around the communities, down to the river or jump in a taxi to savor the spectacular could-covered sunset. There are regular buses into town if you would like to go shopping, try the local food or learn about Guaranda’s Carnaval - the most infamous in the country.

For a day’s outing, don’t miss hiking up to Chimborazo’s refuge and enjoying a hot chocolate at over 5,000m above sea level. Alternatively, take a tour around the salt mines and micro-businesses of the nationally renowned village of Salinas de Guaranda. If you prefer warmer climates, within an hour you can drop down to sea level and go hiking in protected virgin forests in the search of pristine rivers, tropical birds and immense waterfalls. Bolívar really has it all (minus the tourist traps!).


We are at almost 3,000m (10,000ft) above sea level and the average temperature is 13°C (55°F). Below is a list of typical weather patterns throughout the year, though climate change is definitely throwing these off, so be ready for anything!

  • Summer (Jun - Sep, around Christmas): hot sunny days (leading to water shortages), colder cloudless nights and often a strong wind
  • Winter (Feb - Apr): Often dry mornings and heavy rain in the afternoon. Less day/night temperature change and no wind.
  • Spring/Autumn (May, Oct - Jan): Somewhere between summer and winter!

Due to the high altitude, the sun feels cooler but will burn you more easily - so be prepared with a hat and sun screen. The temperature is cool at night and Ecuadorian houses have no insulation/central heating, we have blankets and hot water bottles to help keep you cosey. Fortunately there are no mosquitos at this elevation!



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 Spanish (intermediate level) or English (basic level)
Education Requirements
at University level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
We have a variety of internships available, please ensure you are applying for the appropriate course that fits your skills.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 08:00 - 16:00

What's Included

Services by El Terreno

What's Included:

  • Support to attain academic credits (through your university/education provider)
  • Programme coaching & support
  • Transport & materials budget
  • Accommodation (Private Room)
  • Cooked lunches (Mon - Thu)
  • WiFi & washing machine access

What's Not Included:

  • Flights, visas, vaccines or any other expenses to reach us
  • Travel, health and work insurance
  • Other meals
  • Leisure time activities
  • Spending money

You will be living with a host family within the community. It's a great opportunity to practice your Spanish and get to know the local culture.

Rooms may be humble, in keeping with the lifestyle that people live in. However, all will include a private room, hot shower, shared kitchen, WiFi and a washing station (either by hand or machine).

You will also have full access to the casa comunal's kitchen, bathroom, living and WiFi room of casa comunal, only a few minutes walk away
Guest Family
Food & Beverages
We provide a cooked lunch Monday to Thursday in the casa comunal, cooked by our volunteers. We can accommodate most dietary requirements.

The remainder of your food you must cook yourself, you will receive a personal basket and fridge space to store food. There are basic shops in the village and nearby town (10mins bus/30 minutes walk) or supermarkets in Guaranda (30 minutes bus)
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.
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.
If you are intending to volunteer in Ecuador you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Ecuador.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

We receive interns throughout the year and can be flexible about the time of year you arrive. We receive new people on a Sunday, so that you can receive a tour and get fully integrated on the Monday morning. You can stay anywhere from 1 to 6 months, or whatever is required for you to fulfil your internship requirements.

We are equidistant between Ecuador's two largest cities of Guayaquil and Quito, both 4-5 hours by bus. Travel is inexpensive and generally safe, though there are private car options available. We can help you decide where you would like to travel to and share the information of how to arrive. Once you arrive in Guaranda, you can get a taxi (maximum $5) to reach us.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 24 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
6 weeks
8 weeks
16 weeks
24 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$101 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. El Terreno will let you know about the final price during your application process.
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 El Terreno during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if El Terreno 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 El Terreno.

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Ecology & Sustainable Agriculture Internship

Hands-on, personalised internship helping indigenous Andean communities transition from deforestation/agrochemicals towards more regenerative agriculture and ecosystems.


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