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Volunteer with Turtles in Greece

Protect and conserve an important loggerhead turtle nesting area in the Mediterranean


Program Information

Discover historic Greece when you live and volunteer alongside a team of international volunteers, and make a real contribution to the conservation and protection of one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in the region.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Based in the beautiful Bay of Kyparissia in the western Peloponnese, you will live and volunteer with a team of international volunteers to conserve and protect one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Greece.

The team will engage in daily morning surveys to record nesting activity and protect turtle nests against predation by mammals and inundation by sea water. Volunteers will also provide important conservation information to overseas visitors and the local community.



Highlights Include

Hands-on work with one of the most endangered species in the Mediterranean; living in a quiet area near a traditional fishing town; exploring nearby nature reserves and admiring local architecture. The thrill of seeing turtles lay their eggs and watching the hatchlings head for the sea; experiencing Greek culture first hand in a beautiful area which you can explore in your free time; taking a great first step towards your career in practical conservation or simply making a lasting one-off contribution to the preservation of endangered turtles.

GVI works in conjunction with our local partners to ensure you receive all the necessary training to meet the project's objectives as well as providing opportunities for you to explore the fascinating Greek culture and sights of the surrounding area in your free time.

Program Details

Project Life

The work is varied, with all volunteers rotating around the different roles: turtle patrol, camp duty, bamboo harvesting (used to protect the nests) and an environmental education program for the locals and tourists. The days are long, it is hot and you will have to walk long distances (at least 5km) during surveys.

Your accommodation will be in tents right next to the beach, providing you with a breathtaking scenic view to wake up to each morning. The campsite will have a number of facilities, including a mini-market, a self-service restaurant and access to a telephone.

In between your shifts, you will have plenty of time to soak up the sun on the sandy white beaches or relax with your fellow volunteers back at the campsite. Although the climate will be hot and can get very humid, by living so close to the beach you will be able to cool down with a quick dip in the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Depending on how shifts you are structured, you will also have one day off a week, giving you time to explore the local area and immerse yourself even more into the breathtaking natural beauty, culture and history that Greece has to offer!

Project Details

GVI works in collabouration with a Greek organisation that has been conducting research in this area since 1983, making it one of the oldest conservation projects in the Mediterranean.

Key volunteer tasks may include:

·       Patrolling the beach to locate new tracks and nests
·       Recording data and measurements
·       Installing protective nest grids
·       Nest relocation (if required)
·       Nest excavation (from August onwards)
·       Bamboo harvesting - assembling nest grids

Data collected not only contributes to coastal management plans in Greece but also towards the international strategy for the conservation of sea turtles.

How this project makes a difference:

Protecting nests against predation by mammals and/or inundation by sea water ensures that as many hatchlings as possible are added to the population each year, while public awareness activities help people adopt friendlier attitudes towards the natural environment and possibly reduce their environmental footprint in the area

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Airport transfers (pick up and drop off)
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


The Team

Helena Zepetes

Field Staff
Meet Helena, a GVI field staff member here in Greece! Helena has always had a love for the ocean and travelling since she was young. She first started off working with marine life in Greece where she worked with Loggerhead Sea Turtles. This led to her to work for GVI Greece and then in Jalova, Costa Rica where she worked with Green turtles and a wider variety of wildlife. There she explored her love for all life especially the Aracaris and Toucans, yet her heart still lies with the ocean.

This has recently lead to her becoming qualified as a Certified PADI Open Water Diver which will enable her to work alongside more marine life and help her improve her work as a keen marine conservationist. She wishes to expand her knowledge in the future and to carry on exploring the world one country at a time. She is still waiting to cross off swimming with Whale Sharks and Manta rays off her bucket list.

Sebastian Hoefer

Field Staff
Meet Sebastian, our enthusiastic nature-lover here in Greece. Sebastian studied biology in Berlin and is passionate about wildlife and conservation. He is part of a big wildlife conservation program in Berlin and coordinates his own project at the university. A few years ago he worked on similar projects at the very same beach where our projects are based now, so he knows the area and the projects quite well.

The travel bug has really bitten him and he's always planning his next trip. After going around Australia in a Land cruiser for 18 months he went on to travel all over Europe in a Volkswagen T3 for 15 months.  Steve Irwin was his childhood hero, "I remember looking up words in the dictionary when I was a kid to be able to ask him personally if I could help him with his amazing mission of protecting wildlife". This is still what Sebastian wants to do  – protect and give back to nature and all of it’s amazing creatures!

William Hayes

Field Staff
Meet Will, one of our knowledgeable staff members here in Greece. Will is a final year student at Durham University studying biology; he has had a strong passion for wildlife conservation his whole life and is very excited to work with GVI Greece.

He volunteered with GVI in Costa Rica before joining us in Greece and was really taken with how passionate and dedicated everyone at GVI was. Will is a big sports fan, specifically rowing and rugby, although as a Scotland fan that's often not very fun!

Alyssa Kirkham

Field Staff
Meet Alyssa, also known as “Miz or Missouri”, one of our very enthusiastic staff for this upcoming season here in Greece. Miz has always had a passion for wildlife and sharing her knowledge with the world. Her entire childhood was filled with nursing orphaned rabbits, and opossums back to good health and releasing them back into the wild.

She aspires one day to open her own rehabilitation center in South-west Missouri. Miz has worked on a number of GVI projects including Costa Rica, India, and Greece. She has had the opportunity to work with 5 of the 7 species of sea turtles and hopes to get the opportunity to work with the remaining two in the near future!

Quintin Bergman

Field Staff
Meet Quintin, he is part of our field staff here in Greece! Quintin loves to travel and study animals, after graduating with a bachelors in Wildlife Conservation he went to work on a Leatherback monitoring project on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

If not working, you can find him in or around the water and taking photos of any living creature. Quintin gets very excited when searching for personal new species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. He is always ready to go on a hike or try something new!

Victoria Lang

Field Staff
Meet Victoria, one of our awesome field staff members in Greece for this summer. Victoria has a degree in Environmental studies and has always had a love and passion for the environment and wildlife. She has been with GVI for over a year starting as an intern in GVI Costa Rica before moving on to a field staff position with both GVI Greece and GVI India.

Victoria has a passion for animal behaviour and would like to one day carry our studies here into animal behaviour and patterns. She loves marine life and the understanding of how that environment works and would like to further develop her knowledge in this environment and the species within this year in Greece.

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Ana Miguel

Project Coordinator
Meet Ana, our helpful project coordinator here in Greece. Upon finishing her PhD studies in Molecular Biology she decided to change the lab coat for the field and ran the largest sea turtle conservation program in Greece where she met and worked in close collaboration with GVI Greece, Mavrovouni.

Before joining us as project coordinator in Greece she ventured to work as a science coordinator at one of our conservation programs in Costa Rica. "Ever since I met the GVI team I decided I wanted to become one of them! She relocated from her home country, Spain, to work in Greece, ensuring that our turtle conservation programs run smoothly."

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  • 2019
  • 2020

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Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.