This week I’ve been exploring the interesting intersections between tourism and learning. In some cases, like Return to Freedom (the American wild horse sanctuary) and the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute, volunteer tourists learn directly through work. They help take care of animals, help with research, work on the farm, and help conceive of new sustainable projects. In other cases, like the Texas A&M Volunteer Entomology Training Program, volunteers learn in the traditional way, in the classroom. At EcoTeach, the subject of today’s article, volunteer tourists learn in a combination of ways—through wilderness expeditions (a classroom in the forest), conservation work, cultural exchange, and guided exploration.
In a poll conducted by Condé Nast Traveler and MSNBC, 14% of Americans have taken a volunteer vacation, but 55% indicated they would like to participate. Of those who have gone on volunteer trips, 95% reported that they are likely to do it again. That’s quite a return! But I wonder about that 55%. Who are they? Are they busy working people or high school kids? Are they grandparents, afraid of the rigors of volunteering? As a voluntour organization, how can you motivate that 55% to take the plunge—to reach that decision-making moment when an ephemeral dream becomes a solid reality?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about an organization called Go Overseas. They work to help match travelers with volunteer opportunities all over the world. My article focused on the great intuitive setup of their website. I love how they feature reviews from volunteers who’ve had experience in the field and was curious to learn more about how the organization works. I was fortunate to have a chance to speak with Katie Boyer, the Volunteer Director at Go Overseas. Katie explained how the organization works, how they choose their featured opportunities, and what they plan for the future. Enjoy!