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AGROFORESTRY AND FAIR TRADE DEVELOPMENT

Work in different areas to develop agricultural techniques for a native plant that can be made into tea, and fascilitate the development of the local farmers association, learn about the management of a social enterprice, among others.

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The project

The organization started as a non-profit in Ecuador, the idea behind it all is very simple, buy Guayusa (a leaf that can be made into tea), from local farmers and then sell it (in tea form) to overseas markets, specifically the US. The organization grew and now includes a for-profit company in Ecuador and both non-profit and for-profit sections in the US. They work with about 2,000 farmers in the Ecuador jungle and have been selling tea in the US for a couple years. The organization is very involved in the community, donating money, helping schools, and employing many people as they try to make a sustainable, both economically and environmentally, business that helps local people.

The organization continues to work on developing better growing, planting, and pruning techniques for the Guayusa plant, with the hope the research will help the communities grow Guayusa more efficiently. They are working on mapping areas of the surrounding communities and protecting the watershed of the local area. They also do a lot of grant writing, promoting education, especially environmentally focused, and other agroforestry studies. Listed below are descriptions of the specific programs.

Environmental Education Internship: Interns and researchers on our educational team will work alongside Runa Foundation and our participating communities to implement environmental curriculums and sustainable projects in our community’s schools. This is a new internship project that needs to be developed from the ground up with the objective of spreading environmental awareness in Napo’s younger generation.

Agricultural Economics Internship: Interns and researchers on our economic team will investigate the costs and benefits of guayusa production in the Napo region. They will work with our local field team and farmers to calculate net present value of guayusa plantations, opportunity costs, and the social/environmental benefits of production.

Agroforestry Research Internship: Guayusa (Ilex guayusa) is a native holly tree to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Historically, the tree has been cultivated for subsistence. Runa works with indigenous farmers to boost production of guayusa by growing it in agroforestry systems. Researchers on our agroforestry team will work with farmers and Runa field technicians to implement and design a participatory research initiative with the help of the World Agroforestry Centre. We are now working with worldwise experts, Nigel Mican (Tea Expert) and Florencia Montagnini (Professor of Tropical Agroforestry, Yale) to create innovative ways to investigate guayusa and publish papers in a completely new area of research.

Community Development Internship: Interns and researchers on our community development team will work with Runa Foundation to facilitate the development of the farmers association. Over the past year, Fundación Runa has been facilitating this development; holding training workshops, managing administration and coordinating with Fair Trade USA. The farmer’s association is in charge of managing the Social Premium Fund under the requisites of Fair Trade USA. This is a unique opportunity to get first hand experience working with a new farmer’s association and cooperative.

Social Entrepreneurs: The Foundation has developed a new partnership with Andean Collection, a New York-based brand of sustainable accessories, designed collaboratively by New York designers and indigenous artisans of Ecuador. Andean Collection’s on trend accessories have been sold in over 2,000 locations worldwide, including specialty stores such as Anthropologie and DKNY, and are frequently mentioned in top fashion publications around the globe. Andean Collection are launching a new Amazonia Line of accessories, in collaboration with us.

Forest conservation and watershed management internship: This project aims to conserve 10,000 hectares of forest by creating “buffer zones” of guayusa production to mitigate against extractive activities within the area of conservation. Through participatory research, interns will collaborate with farmers and community members to create a monitoring system of extractive activities.  Interns and researchers will also work on the policy level with local governments to assess the feasibility of generating payments for ecosystem services through a water tax fund.

Dates/Length

Project available year-round. 2 weeks to 6 months durations available.

Costs

2 weeks – $1360
1 month – $1830
2 months – $2770
3 months – $3710
Each extra week  – $235

Location details

The project location is in Amazon. Accomodation: with a local host family, 2 meals per day: breakfast and dinner.  Or at the volunter house: meals are not included.

Requirements

Spanish level: Basic user A2. Must be 18 and over, with valid passport and health insurance

Itinerary Sample

Mondays to Fridays

7:00 to 8:00 breakfast with their families.
8:00 to 12:30 work in the different areas in the community such as agriculture, jams and dairy, manufacture of handicrafts, etc.
12:30 to 14:30 lunch and resting time.
14:30 to 17:30 keep working with the families; each activity will rotate weekly or daily.

Role of the volunteer

Environmental Education Internship: This internship is geared towards individuals with a desire to work with a wide variety of people from school children to local government officials. Proficiency in English and Spanish is essential. Experience in Latin America and/or working in a rural setting is a plus. Intern must be willing to handle intricacies of a start-up project with little guidelines.

Agricultural Economics Internship: This internship is geared towards undergraduate and graduate students majoring in economics, international development, affairs or business or a related field. Proficiency in English and Spanish is essential. Experience in Latin America and/or working in a rural setting is a plus.

Agroforestry Research Internship: This internship is geared towards undergraduate and graduate students majoring in environmental science, sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, policy, business, or a related field. Proficiency in English and Spanish is preferred. Experience in Latin America and/or working in a rural setting is a plus.

Community Development Internship: This internship is geared towards undergraduate and graduate students majoring in international development, affairs or business or a related field. Proficiency in English and Spanish is essential. Experience in Latin America and/or working in a rural setting is a plus.

Social Entrepreneurs:Interns in this area will learn in-depth about the management of a social enterprise, with the unique opportunity to work under both organizations. Time and duties will be split between the two organizations, allowing the intern to gain a full breadth of knowledge and experience whilst being key in the development of a new area.

Forest conservation and watershed management internship: Interns and researchers on our conservation team will work in the communities of Santa Rita and Alto Tena to monitor conservation buffer zones around the Colonso Protected Forest. The Colonso Forest is a 10,000 hectare (22,000 acre) reserve of primary rainforest that serves as the water source for the towns of Tena and Archidona.

Skills required

Environmental Education Internship: This internship is geared towards individuals with a desire to help. Applicants should have enterprising spirit, flexible personality, caring, dynamic, and responsible.

What’s Included?

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Accomodation

Available during the length of the project (Either at the project or local homestay families with 2 meals included)

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Transfer from Quito to project

 

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Cellphone

Local cell phone is included with a refundable deposit of $50

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Aiport pick-up/ drop-off

Ecua Explora staff ready to transport you

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Support 24 hours

On the ground Ecua Explora staff available

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First weekend accomodation

In a hostal in Quito with breakfast

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Orientation

(includes city tour and lunch)

Not Included

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Meals not specified

 

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Transportation to/from the homestay to the project each day

 

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Optional extras

Add $70 for day excursion upon arrival.
Add $50 per week for 6h Spanish classes if in Quito.

Sounds amazing? Want to be part of something important?

 

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