Sea Going Green partners with Conservation Guide
Conservation Guide steers volunteers to projects around the world
What is voluntourism and why is it important?
Voluntourism is a relatively new term that has stemmed from a increase in individuals seeking a voluntary position that has either an ethical or environmental aspect to it. It is this social impact which lies at the core of voluntourism. The sector has increased dramatically over recent years with increasing number of individuals seeking rewarding experiences for career progression or altruistic purposes. Voluntourism experiences can come in all forms, from community and teaching projects to terrestrial and marine conservation projects all of which should contain an element of social impact.
When a voluntourism project is well organised and thoughtfully planned the volunteer can gain many personal and social benefits as well as improving their professional development. Well run projects can also help with the regeneration of local environments, protection of endangered species or the education of a local community. The Conservation Guide would like to harness the increasing popularity of voluntourism and connect prospective volunteers with projects from around the world.
What does Conservation Guide do?
The Conservation Guide is a new volunteering marketplace designed to connect conservation organisations direct with volunteers around the world. We want to make it as easy as possible for volunteers to find, book and review projects worldwide. Our mission is to make global conservation more accessible, more transparent and more connected whilst creating a new global cohort of citizen conservationists. Our platform is a little like Airbnb for volunteer projects, where conservation organisations display their projects as listings on our Conservation Guide map. We want to create a level playing field for all conservation projects so organisations with a shoestring budget have just as much an opportunity to attract volunteers to their platform as an organisation with ample. With the Conservation Guide, we would also like to improve the employability of our users by offering conservation training courses, apprenticeships and internships enhancing the professional development of our users, setting them in better stead as they move into paid work in the conservation sector.
Why did you start Conservation Guide?
I have been involved in conservation science since 2006 and have had the great fortune to be involved in projects both in a volunteer and professional capacity all across the world. I have worked on conservation field stations in Tanzania, Fiji, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Madagascar as well as a number of projects on home soil. My experiences in the field have resulted in me witnessing both the good, and bad sides of conservation volunteering and that’s why i wanted to create the Conservation Guide. I would love for our platform to aid with the continual development of conservation projects as well as inspire the creation of new ones. I would also love it if our platform could improve the employability of our users, providing them with the skills and confidence to move into a successful career in the conservation sector.
Can you describe a typical work day for you @ CG?
Well most of my time spent working on Conservation Guide is actually during the evening and weekends as i work full time as a Biologst for the National Marine Aquarium. At the moment, the majority of my time is spent contacting new conservation organisations, explaining our Conservation Guide mission to them and listening carefully to exactly what it is they would require from a platform like ours.
We are forging partnerships and collaborations with other environmental organisations like Sea Going Green that can aid us in the delivery of our Conservation Guide mission and strengthen our environmental image. We would like
My Co-Founder and CTO Will Morley is carrying out a major redesign of our online platform where we will be rolling out a number of new functionalities that will benefit both the orgainstions on own platform and the volunteers looking to find, book and review projects.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Having a full time job as a biologist makes finding enough time to work on the conservation guide challenging. Working only evenings and weekends means I need to make sure I am as productive as possible with the hours how I have available to me.
Before we won our incubator grant with wework i had been using my own money to finance the development and growth of our platform which worked for a while but was never going to be a sustainable way to grow the company. Now, with the grant money, the pressure has been taken off my own wallet and we are able to use the prize money to really accelerate the development of our online marketplace.
Coming from a scientific background, I think I lack a little bit of the business knowledge and ruthlessness that comes with business schooling. Luckily my Co-Founder Will Morley is a little more business and tech savvy than myself so our differing skills sets do compliment each other.
That being said, starting up your own company forces you to learn new skills, and, by immersing yourself in new situations, we have both been able to add to our professional development as our startup grows.
Read The Conservation Guide's blog about Sea Going Green here .