This is a question I would love to know the answer to. I suspect the answer is yes, as you can volunteer and do pretty much anything, from marine conservation, to caring for elephants, to teaching English or working in an orphanage. Volunteering is not something I’ve done much of, but traveling has opened my eyes more to the problems the world faces, and it’s something I would love to do more of. I’ve always liked the idea of doing conservation work, but it wasn’t until I reached New Zealand that I’ve actually volunteered on a couple of conservation events. They’re great fun, I enjoyed doing the work, meeting people, and generally found the whole thing very satisfying, however, I feel that my skills could be better placed.
I’m a Biochemistry graduate, and I’ve worked in Cell Biology for 5 years before traveling, and I now work doing a similar thing. I would love to use my science background to help a conservation or ecology project, but I don’t quiet know where to get started. The problem is, searches for volunteering are predominantly volunteerism, which is firstly too expensive for me, like most long term travellers. I don’t mind paying to volunteer to cover the cost of my food and board, and a donation to the work I’m doing, but I can’t afford a few hundred $’s for a week. Sure, there are lots of Grassroots Volunteering programs, and I’ve also looked into these, but there is very little available for lab skills, the closest I’ve found is volunteering in a medical centre, but as I have no medical training I don’t know if my background is suitable for many of these volunteering options, and they are few and far between.
I also lack Environmental Science experience or qualifications. I don’t know all the ins and outs of a science project, but neither do any experienced qualified scientists unless it’s an area they have worked in extensively. It’s the nature of science.
I do however, know how to work in a lab, carry out tests, and learn quickly. I’m quite happy to carry out monotonous tasks, but I would love to put my skills to good use during my travels, especially as there aren’t that many scientists around, and perhaps fewer who are travellers. I would really love to do some science volunteering, and I’m open to volunteering on a conservation project or an ecological volunteering opportunity. It would be brilliant if I can make my lab skills useful. If you have done anything like this, or anything similar/ know someone who has, please let me know and give me a starting point. In the meantime, I’ll keep searching and see what interesting and unusual volunteering opportunities are available.