Volunteering doesn’t always mean you have to go to far-flung parts of the world to assist people in need. Sometimes visiting places with poverty, pain and despair can be a bit too emotionally demanding for younger volunteers who want to employ their skills to help out. There’s a place closer to home that is more suitable for high school graduates to able-bodied 75-year-olds. A place that caters to the welfare of animals that are open to volunteers year-round with welcoming arms.
As part of “Projects Abroad,” the Mexico Sea Turtle & Ecology Project offers three programs to entice volunteers who want to work alongside natural habitats that consist of crocodiles, sea turtles and the wildlife species of El Chupadero, Mexico.
Fortunately, you won’t be roughing it in the wilderness swatting mosquitoes, assembling a tent or bunking down in a sleeping bag when you volunteer for this project. All volunteers are located in host houses either with welcoming families or single people, where you get to experience the close-knit Mexican culture and traditional lifestyle. In fact, you get the royal treatment, being met at the airport by the host family, staying at their house and eating glorious Mexican or western-style food during the project.
From the host houses, all volunteers are then taken to the conservation and environmental research centre, which is located on the coast at Colima. It is just a short walk to the Pacific Ocean where the Ridley Turtles emerge to nest on the sandy shore. The area around the research centre is bordered by the lush Mexican countryside and it is about 40 minutes from the nearest village, making it fairly remote. So ensure you have enough bug spray to last for the whole of your stay!
The brunt of the turtle conservation occurs in the darkness of night when the Olive Ridley Turtles make their appearance from the sea onto the dark sands of the beach. This is the preferred time for the turtles who are looking for somewhere on the beach to lay their eggs. As a volunteer, it is your job to seek out nesting turtles, wait for the entire egg laying process to be completed and then carefully uncover the eggs, to collect biological data before burying them again.
Other times you will be requested to make a valuable contribution by looking for hatchlings that make their way across the sand. You will them chaperone them safely away from harms way to the oceans edge where they venture into the water.
The crocodile farm is close by and the staff is only happy to have helping hands around. Can you imagine being asked to make a nest to house the eggs of the crocodile or even more exciting, help catch one with your bare hands? (With professional assistance of course!)
But not everything about this venture is all work and no play, as Projects Abroad rewards your hard work by arranging fun things to do on the weekends. You can choose from an array of day trips to attractions such as the bat caves or a pleasurable trip to the popular beach of Manzanillo. Should you want to just kick back in the area, there is always the Lagoon Rustic Bar where drinks and friends are always available.
So, when you want to give a helping hand to Mother Nature, contact the Mexico Sea Turtle & Ecology Project and help save the Olive Ridley Turtle from becoming extinct. You get to work along side experienced conservation personnel where your adrenalin levels will be on a high from the wealth of this intrinsic experience.
Enjoy the stunning solace of being on the Mexican beach at night on your quad bike in search of nesting turtles to collect biological data. Get the sense of a job well done, as the tracks of flippers lead down to the freedom of the sea where life continues to grow from strength to strength.
So, get ready for a ride on the wild side and help make a positive impact to the Olive Ridley Turtle population. As a volunteer, you will share in a sense of achievement, empowerment and gain a valuable life experience.