Volunteer in the Caribbean on the stunning island of St. Eustatius, in the Dutch Antilles, overlooking St. Kitts in the Caribbean Sea. You can take part in the following conservation volunteer work activities:
You can join for 4 weeks up to 12 weeks all year round and we have places all throughout 2016 available.
Individuals, groups and students doing research all welcome.
Cost for lodging in volunteer house, gas, water, materials, project tshirt, training & orientation, airport pickup; starts at £720
Two or three days a week working on the trail systems in The Quill and Boven National Parks. The first conservation volunteer crews finished the new Crater Trail, then the Bird Observation Trail was completed in early 2005. You will work mostly on trail maintenance including, clearance, erosion control and improving singage.
During the turtle nesting season which runs from March to October, you may be assisting with night patrols on Zeelandia beach monitoring nesting sea turtles (not applicable for November to March groups). Teams will be established and days rotated. You will assist with gathering data from sea turtles that generally nest between dark and dawn. Data gathered by the crew will be shared Caribbean-wide through a linked database which wildlife managers use to improve protective measures for endangered species. In general, you will be monitoring hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles. This programme may also be combined with beach sand monitoring. Please note that turtles don't nest every night and therefore you shouldn't expect to see turtles during every patrol. Please also note that our nesting population of turtles is small and we therefore do not patrol the beach every night throughout the season. Outside of turtle nesting season, there is an in-water survey in the Marine Park to observe turtle behaviour and volunteers may SCUBA dive and snorkel to assist on this survey (need SCUBA qualification and 10 open water dives).
You will also be working two or three days a week in the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden on projects, such as developing a Fruit garden and a Children's garden for Phase II. Work will also include giving tours to school children, pruning and planting cuttings, cutting grass, improving pathways, landscaping and control of invasive exotic species such as Coralita (or “Mexican Creeper”) which has taken over the island.
* New opportunity for a Full-Time Botanical Garden Intern - who can stay up to 12 weeks - if you are interested, please email us here **
During the breeding season (Oct - Jun), you will be given the opportunity to assist with red-billed tropic bird monitoring. This involves visiting the main nesting site every week and assessing the contents of each nest to determine breeding success. This may involve some handling/measuring of birds under the guidance of trained staff. This is a rare opportunity to get close to a pelagic seabird species and learn more about its status, life cycle and threats.
Two to three afternoons a week you may be asked to help out at the visitor centre or with other administrative related projects that STENAPA is involved in, or with educational projects.
Fridays are known as ‘Family Friday’ and are an opportunity for the whole group to work together with interns on a particular project, such as marking out a new trail, installing new signposts, cleaning the turtle nesting beach, planting a new garden or carrying out a survey.
At the beginning of the project, you will receive a 3 day orientation programme, including information about the island (and the general protocol of being a volunteer in the Caribbean and the culture specific to St. Eustatius) , national park management, and training in conservation and gardening skills, with an island tour from a member of staff.
You will work 5 days a week. A typical working day for trail work or botanical garden duties would start at 7am and finish at noon. Two to three afternoons a week you may be asked to help out at the visitor centre or with other administrative related projects that STENAPA is involved in, or with educational projects. The rest of the afternoons will be free and can be spent relaxing, diving, snorkeling, swimming down at the pier, obtaining diving certificates, bird watching, shopping, using the Internet, and enjoying the peace of Statia! For the sea turtle volunteer programme, you will work either in daytime (in-water surveys, nest excavation, beach clean ups) or during night patrols from 9pm until the early hours of the morning. You will then have the next morning off.
The Quill National Park was pronounced the first official National Park of the Netherlands Antilles on May 4th, 1998. The area is now a protected Nature Reserve, which consists of the dormant volcano, The Quill, and the limestone formation to the south of it, called White Wall. Within the National Park, there are several good hiking trails for visitors – you will be working on these trails. The Boven sub-sector comprises five hills in the Northern Hills of St Eustatius: the Boven, Venus, Gilboa Hill, Signal Hill and Bergje. This area has only been actively managed since 2007 due to a long running land ownership dispute.
The Statia National Marine Park is defined as the waters surrounding Statia from the high water mark to the 30m (100ft) depth contour. It was designated the Statia Marine Park in 1996 through the St. Eustatius Marine Environment Ordinance, with the objective to preserve and manage Statia's marine resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and future generations. STENAPA also manages the Botanical Garden which is located in on the windwardside of the island, at the base of the Quill National Park with a view of St. Kitts.
2015 marks the 14th year of the sea turtle conservation programme. Monitoring patrols for nesting turtles on Zeelandia Beach started in 2002, and increased in 2003 with a greater number of patrols due to the onset of the Working Abroad Volunteer programme. It was with great excitement that the first leatherback turtle was observed nesting on 17th April 2003, and a number of additional leatherbacks nested on Zeelandia during the year.
Today, the Sea Turtle Volunteer Programme Co-ordinator along with the Project Intern coordinates the monitoring patrols during the nesting season. Volunteers are expected to take part in these patrols when they are scheduled. Volunteers should also expect that many nights the beach will be patrolled without a sighting of a nesting female. Our presence on the beach should actually be seen as safe-guarding. Our role is the protection of the eggs until the hatchlings make it safely to the surf.
Volunteers make the sea turtle programme possible as STENAPA does not have the amount of staff in order to carry out the necessary patrols. It is highly appreciated that volunteers come with a positive attitude as everyone is expected to do their part to make the programme a success.
23 May to 20 June 2016
23 May to 18 July 2016
20 June to 18 July 2016
20 June to 15 August 2016
18 July to 15 August 2016
18 July to 12 September 2016
15 August to 12 September 2016
15 August to 10 October 2016
12 September to 10 October 2016
12 September to 7 November 2016
10 October to 7 November 2016
10 October to 5 December 2016
7th November to 5 December 2016
Volunteers can join for 4 to 12 week periods.
We can be flexible with dates. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for further dates or questions. There are a maximum of eight volunteers there at any one time.
* New opportunity for a Full-Time Botanical Garden Intern - who can stay up to 12 weeks - if you are interested, please email us here **
As volunteers, you will be supervised on all of the projects by STENAPA staff either in the botanical garden, on the trail or in the marine park. You will also receive orientation and proper training at the beginning of the project.
The cost for 4 weeks is £720 and 8 weeks is £1260, which covers all project costs, including all food (monthly allowance of 300 USD), lodging in volunteer house, drinking water, materials for trail project, all training and supervision by STENAPA staff, pickup and drop off from airport in Statia, project t-shirts, use of mountain bikes, WorkingAbroad Projects backup and placement support, and so on. For those volunteers assisting with the work at the marine park in addition to the trail work, STENAPA will provide dive gear and tanks for this. The airfare to St. Eustatius, travel/medical insurance and personal expenses are not included within this price. It is mandatory for you to take out travel and medical insurance for the duration of the project.
Health, weather, facilities
The climate on Statia is known as a tropical dry climate. It is warm year round, ranging from 25 to 35 degrees, with a gentle ocean breeze. Rainfall occurs during the rainy season, but only for short spells.
Oranjestad is the capital of Statia, which caters for facilities such as internet access, 2 banks, post office and a few local shops. There are no health hazards to be aware of for Statia, except for sunburn possibly. Drinking water is usually from bottles, as water is collected in cisterns, and is not recommended for drinking purposes for temporary visitors. The island is very peaceful, and there are no problems with crime or safety.
How to get there?
In general, you can travel from your home country to St. Maarten (Air France, KLM fly daily from Europe, American Airlines and others from the USA), and from there, get a connecting flight with Winair (www.fly-winair.com) to St. Eustatius – this local airline that flies there (flights usually take about 20-30 minutes and there are several flights a day - prices can range from 100 to 150 USD return). Trans Anguilla Airlines http://transanguilla.com/ also flies there too.
Click below to watch a trailer done by an-ex volunteer, Luke Bradford, on the work of the staff and volunteers on the island
St. Eustatius, better known as Statia, is located in the Netherlands Antilles islands of the Caribbean, and is only 8 km long and 3 km wide. It is a tranquil and beautiful island which gives a visitor the feeling of stepping back in the Caribbean of decades past – islanders enjoy striking up conversations, stray goats and chickens wander around the streets and the pace is calm and slow.
Visitors don’t go to Statia for its beaches, but rather for its amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities as well as for its hiking trails in the National Parks, and for visiting its old Dutch colonial buildings and forts. Statia has a population of approximately 3200 people, most are of mixed African and European descent. Dutch is the official language, but the spoken language is English.
Below is an interactive map showing the location of the project:
I volunteered at STENAPA one month between July and August 2013. We were the first volunteers staying at the new house, which I guess changed a lot the way of living the island. The house is placed just above the Carribean beach. The location is great, close to everything, you can go to the office, to the dive shops or to town in 5 minutes (we were given bikes). The house has 3 bedrooms, livingroom, kitchen, bathrooom and everything is pretty comfortable. There is a huge garden were you can enjoy BBQing with a stunning view of the bay. Volunteers and interns live together at the house with Foxy the dog and Vinny the cat (lovely pets).
Volunteers work the morning from Monday to Friday. You have to be motivated in doing the work, it isn't difficult and volunteers aren't expected to rush. At the botanical garden we worked basically as gardeners, which was nice because we could see the results of our work. The work on the trails consists in cutting everything that is not supposed to be on the trails. What I enjoyed the most about these two projects was the chance of working in wonderful places in total freedom. There was always something nice to see, could that be the view to St. Kitts from the garden or the tropical vegetation inside the crater of the Quill. The turtle patrol is nice as well, of course you have to be lucky.
The afternoons we spent much of our time at the beach sunbathing, drinking, snorkeling or diving. The beach is very close (1 minute in bike), never crowded, the sea is warm and quiet, with lots of animals and stuff to see. I did the open water certificate at the dive shop. It costed 375 dollars and the only thing I regret is not having it done before. There are great dives and you can see again lots of stuff (from shipwrecks to sharks).
The weekends we hung out to the "downtown" of Statia (10 minutes in bike). The downtown consists in three or four bars where you can go drinking, dancing, karaoke and so on. The people from Statia are really nice and friendly. It would be pretty impossible to argue, people were pretty chill. There are not much tourists but when you easily find people from Europe or USA at the beach in afternoons or friday night downtown (some works at the dive shops or at the archeological sites).
To sum up, I had a great time in Statia. Of course you have to give up some comforts (cold showers, always feeling sweaty and dirty, mosquitoes) but it's all worth it.
Gaby Lieuw, who blogs about all things Dutch-Caribbean, has written a great entry on the Statia Conservation project and the Botanical Garden where volunteers will stay and work. You can read more at this link.
Raymond Phillip describes his experience on Statia last summer
Originally I was quite worried about catching flights and making my way to Statia but once I had arrived it was smooth sailing. The volunteers were very welcoming and most of the islanders were open to get to know you which meant it was quite easy to feel involved. As I wasn't working during the afternoons this gave a good opportunity to improve my swimming and learn how to snorkel. The reefs along the shoreline, near the office, were amazing to visit daily as you would always see different things.
I was upset that the sea turtles were not nesting during the time I was there, however seeing them in the water made up for this. I enjoyed helping out with the summer club and meeting the local children, even though some of them could be a hassle!
I felt this was a good investment and was a good choice as my first major trip away. Although a months stay was a good amount of time, I could have easily opted to stay longer had I not needed to be back in England.
Mat Wicks wrote about his time on Statia in February
My time on Statia was too short. After 3 weeks on the island I really started to feel at home and enjoy myself, but then I had to leave a week later! Living in the Botanical Garden was great, I spent much of my time lying in a hammock watching hummingbirds and lizards. The garden is a fantastic place and there is a good opportunity to work on it in a personal project, doing anything that takes your fancy that you think will be good. The staff and interns are very open to new ideas. I worked on trails which is good excercise in the baking heat, clearing the way and carrying signs, and I also helped with species surveys, birds and butterflies. It was a shame I was not there for the turtle season, but there is still so much to do. As a volunteer you have the afternoons off, and quite often I would hike 'round the mountain' to the office to check emails, then to the beach for snorkelling etc. Statia is a strange place but I liked it a lot. The nature on the island, on the quill, on boven, in the marine park was amazing- you really get to see a lot.
Tanya Saunders, who joined the project gives some other reasons why you should join the Statia Conservation Project:
1. For anyone who wants to work in conservation or gardening, this is a really good experience to add to your CV.
2. By joining this programme, you have the opportunity to learn to dive, and to spend plenty of time snorkelling and diving.
3. For anyone wanting to work in the voluntary sector, this also provides you with experience of working for a not for profit organisation - STENAPA is a Foundation representing the National Parks and Marine Park of St. Eustatius.
4. For those of us who don't need it for their CV, it is also ideal for those who enjoy living and working in the outdoors the whole time.
5. There are also some opportunities to work with kids and help to teach them about conservation.
6. Many organisations charge quite a bit for people wanting the opportunity to dive as a volunteer, but on this project, you can sometimes dive as a volunteer, so it is a really good opportunity for anyone who is keen to get more diving experience, without the excessive costs.
7. There is an archaeology non profit organisation also on St. Eustatius, and volunteers can also spend some time there in their free time.
- Yes. Most importantly, do research. Read all the Working abroad info thoroughly & supplement it with a visit to the Stenapa website, if nothing else, so that you fully know what you`re letting yourself in for. Try & travel as light as possible within reason & don`t take anything in the way of clothes that you are desperate to bring back with you. The four most important things I would say to take would be a hard wearing pair of gloves, a decent headtorch for finding your tent at night, a decent insect repellent & a large, robust container for drinking water for use while working, one litre minimum, but I would recommend at least 2 litres. Try & contact Stenapa prior to attendance in order to find the local conditions on the ground & anything that may particularly be required or definitely not required as the case may be ( I brought a first aid kit with loads of stuff that there was already a lot of in the intern house, yet the house was crying out for some drying up cloths & cleaning utensils for the kitchen which could not easily be found on Statia, which I could’ve easily taken with me). Take something to keep you occupied, ipod, books, DVD`s etc. Be prepared for it to be hot, prepared to sweat & prepared to put your back into it, but to be rewarded accordingly!
If you are interested in joining this project, you will need to fill out the online application form (you can also print it out and send it to us by post) – to secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form including two references and your application payment of £180. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However for those who are accepted, the full amount needs to be paid one month before departure. Once you have been accepted on the programme, you will receive a Volunteer Information Package with all detailed information on your project, information on amenities on St. Eustatius, suggested items to bring and lots more.