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Life through 2020 and what we have survived from 2021 so far has made many people reflect on their lives, goals and priorities. If you are one of them and have realized that you (possibly) want to see more of the world and volunteer, there is a way to do both at the same time: volunteering for a scientific research expedition.
But unless you happen to be friends with a scientist who is doing field research and happens to be looking for additional pairs, you may not know where to start. One recently Article in National Geographic by Kristen Pope contains the experiences of people who have volunteered to collect data and / or samples for field research projects in different locations. There is also information on how to find a project that is looking for volunteer citizen scientists. Here’s what you should know.
How to find a field research project looking for volunteers
The first thing you need to do is identify a research project that interests you and that is needed to volunteer. The easiest way to do this is through a non-profit organization that brings research volunteers together where they are needed.
The Indian Article from National Geographic is called Adventure scientist, and it works with agencies like that National Park Service, US Forest Service, and Land Management Officeto provide Citizen Scientists for various research projects.
Other places to look for volunteer opportunities include:
What you should know about volunteering on a research expedition
There are a few other things to consider. First of all, don’t forget that it’s volunteering – so don’t expect to be paid for your work or to cover your travel expenses. You might be lucky enough to find a project that offers some kind of scholarship, but that’s the rare exception, not the rule.
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What you’re more likely to find, however, are for-profit volunteer tourism companies that charge a range of fees to connect you to volunteering abroad. These aren’t necessarily research trips (or something you’d like to do), but they may show up during your search.
And although the opportunity is unpaid, you still have to Application and / or selection process in most situations, to make sure your timing and skills match the project. If selected, you will then receive a training course in which you will learn how to collect and transmit the data required for a specific project.
It will not be a typical travel experience, but offers the opportunity to explore a new place in an unusual way.