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Conservation Expeditions

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Conservation Expeditions

Are you interested in helping conserve endangered species and experiencing diverse wildlife? Join an SSA Conservation Expedition for the chance to work alongside wildlife researchers and conservationists in some of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. You might find yourself on a remote beach helping newborn turtles travel safely to the ocean, trekking through the rainforest to observe endangered monkeys, or working with elephants in the middle of a Thai jungle. While our conservation work will be the focus of these expeditions, we spend the rest of the program adventuring in beautiful locations with a group of students from across the U.S.

Image of a girl feeding an elephant food
Image of a man holding a turtle

Why Conservation?

The natural environments of our world are in danger. Millions of unique species are at risk of extinction, which impacts everything from the air we breathe, to the water we drink, and the land on which we live. Our approach is to get you, the next generation, involved through hands-on learning from people on the front lines of wildlife conservation. SSA’s goal is to support, inspire, and empower our participants to explore and pursue conservation-focused careers.

Disciplines covered include:

  • Community-Based Conservation
  • Marine Biology and Ecology
  • Tropical Rainforest Ecology
  • Zoology and Animal Behavior
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Botany and Agroforestry
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Indigenous Issues

Our Partner Organizations

We are fortunate to form part of a network of conservation professionals and organizations that have been recognized both nationally and internationally, and contribute meaningfully to both local conservation goals and scientific research in their fields of expertise.  We are honored to be able to open up this network of opportunities to students participating in our Conservation Expeditions.

When deciding on an institutional partner for our Conservation Expedition itineraries, we look for organizations that match and shine in the following criteria:

1

Partner organizations must have a strong science-based mission or research component. We believe a good science program is a necessary basis for an effective and well-directed wildlife conservation initiative.

2

Partner organizations must have a strong focus on community engagement, whereby their work encompasses and relates to the lives people that have the most direct effect (and are most directly affected) by the environmental issues at the heart of the organization's mission.

Our students contribute through hands-on fieldwork, camp maintenance, local environmental cleanups, or other projects that contribute to the initiatives of our partner organizations.

Partner Spotlights

ECOMAR

ECOMAR is a Belizean organization whose vision is to instill knowledge and compassion of the diverse marine ecosystems of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System so that compassionate and informed users will protect and conserve valuable and vulnerable marine resources. ECOMAR owns and manages a Marine Science Center on St. George’s Caye, a highly biodiverse yet understudied area.

Students on our Conservation Expeditions live at this center for multiple days and are trained in a variety of scientific methods to collect data on coral reefs, sea turtles, queen conch, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and Antillean manatees. Data collected is added to long-running datasets, which are in turn used to inform local and national policies that safeguard marine and historical resources. ECOMAR’s ultimate goal is to use this data to establish an underwater marine reserve.

Bring the Elephant Home

Bring the Elephant Home (BTEH) is one of only a few community-based organizations in Thailand dedicated to the conservation of wild Asian elephants. Their initiatives are aimed at restoring natural habitat, stimulating responsible conservation tourism, and finding solutions to human-elephant conflicts. BTEH works with a small community in Kanchanaburi that sits at the edge of wild elephant territory, and represents a difficult human-elephant conflict zone.

Students on our Thailand Conservation Expeditions will assist BTEH by building watering areas in the forest that elephants can use during the dry season, which prevents them from coming into the villages in search of water. Students also volunteer on an extensive, year-round reforestation program, managed by BTEH. Along with the National Park System, BTEH also heads an innovative beehive-fencing project, which provides honey to local people, keeps elephants away from farmland, and increases pollinator diversity to positively impact crop yields.

Latin American Sea Turtles

Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) is a non-profit organization devoted to the research and conservation sea turtles in Costa Rica.  Students on our Sea Turtle Conservation Programs assist in research efforts by conducting nightly beach patrols alongside trained field biologists to search for nesting leatherback and green sea turtles.  Students help relocate eggs to a hatchery to prevent poaching, and take measurements of adult turtles.  Our students also stand watch in the hatchery in order to count, measure, and release hatchling turtles as soon as a nest hatches.

A major component of LAST’s missions is to help educate, engage, and employ local people in their conservation programs, and help advise local and national environmental policy as it relates to sea turtles’ habitats and upstream factors that contribute to the health of marine and coastal ecosystems.  The data that students collect helps contribute to the long-running datasets that help inform policy, and students also contribute to the well being of the local environment through beach cleanup efforts.

Open Enrollment Programs

Open Enrollment programs are available to individual high school students who are interested in traveling with other students from across the country.

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    Image of the student's hands holding a baby turtle, Costa Rica.
    View details Open Enrollment
    Costa Rica: Sea Turtle Conservation Session 2

    $2,990

    Program Highlights
    • Experience hands on interaction with wildlife
    • Volunteer with international researchers
    • Raft down one of Costa Rica's best rivers
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    Image of a girl kissing an elephant
    View details Open Enrollment
    Thailand: 15 Day Elephant Conservation and Welfare

    $3,490

    Program Highlights
    •  Explore the famous Wat Pho Temple in Bangkok
    • Volunteer with Bring The Elephant Home
    • Visit an elephant sanctuary in Kanchanaburi
    • Spend a night in a houseboat on the River Kwai
    • Participate in Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation efforts
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    Image of students tubing by a cave
    View details Open Enrollment
    Belize: Marine Biology Expedition

    $3,490

    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer at the ECOMAR Field Station
    • Survey underwater manatees and sea turtles at Drowned Cayes
    • Visit the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
    • Visit the Green Iguana Conservation and Rehabilitation Center

Custom Group Sample Itineraries

Below please find a selection of sample itineraries that have been custom-tailored for high school educators and their students to fit specific learning objectives and goals.

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    Australia-2
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Australia 20 Day Great Barrier Reef Expedition

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    Program Highlights
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    View details Custom Group Travel
    Australia 20 Day Whales and Wildlife Expedition

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    Program Highlights
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    View details Custom Group Travel
    China Beijing & Sichuan 15 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Trek to world's Largest Buddha
    • Hand feed Giant Pandas at Dujiangyan
    • Explore Forbidden City in Beijing
    • Climb the Great Wall of China
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    Image of two pandas looking at one another
    View details Custom Group Travel
    China Beijing & Sichuan 15 Day Conservation Expedition Homestay

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    Program Highlights
    • Visit the unrestored portion of the Great Wall of China
    • Hand feed Giant Pandas in Dujiangyan
    • Homestay in Anlong Village, an organic farm
    • Explore Forbidden City in Beijing
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    Image of students posing in a group in front of elephants
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Thailand 21 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center
    • See the Mae Cham Elephant Sanctuary
    • Explore the Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary
    • See Koh Talu Sea Turtle Conservation
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    Image of students sitting on the dock of a river boat
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Thailand 15 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Explore Wat Pho Temple in Bangkok
    • Volunteer at Bring The Elephant Home
    • Visit the Kanchanaburi Elephant Sanctuary
    • See Koh Talu Sea Turtle Conservation
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    Smith Sprout Galapagos WT-439
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Galapagos 9 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Study unique wildlife with scientists
    • See sea lions up close in Floreana
    • Hike an active volcano
    • Snorkel with marine life in Isabela
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    Students on a boat in the Galapagos, about to snorkel isabela island.
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Galapagos 14 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer with local scientists
    • Explore the wildlife in Floreana
    • Hike an active volcano
    • Enjoy a full day snorkeling expedition
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    Image of a sea lion yawning
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Galapagos 11 Day Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer with local scientists
    • Hike an active volcano
    • Snorkel through lava tunnels
    • Adventure around Quito
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    Image of baby turtles hatching, Costa Rica
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Costa Rica 15 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Interact closely with wildlife
    • Volunteer with international researchers
    • Raft down one of Costa Rica's best rivers
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    Image of a monkey
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Costa Rica 15 Day Osa Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Participate in a cultural exchange, and explore Costa Rican culture.
    • Work with the Reserva's crocodile monitoring project
    • Conduct research surveying mammals such as monkeys and river otters
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    Image of a program leader petting an elphant
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Thailand 12 Day Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Stroll in a Bangkok flower market
    • Volunteer at Bring The Elephant Home
    • Stay on a houseboat in Sai Yok National Park
    • Visit the Kanchanaburi Elephant Sanctuary
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    Image of students at a lookout next to a waterfall, Costa Rica.
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Costa Rica 12 Day Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Assist with critical conservation efforts and scientific research at a sea turtle research field station
    • Release baby sea turtles into the wild, and interact with wildlife in a highly diverse ecosystem
    • Venture to an indigenous village in the mountains and learn about organic chocolate production.
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    Image of a tiny turtle in someones hands
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Costa Rica 10 Day Osa Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Assist with research at the Playa Tortuga Research Station
    • Enjoy private surf lessons
    • Whitewater raft down the Savegre River
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    Image of a lady in traditional attire
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Panama 15 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Meet with a representative from the Guna General Congress
    • Assist researchers at the Howler Monkey Research Center
    • Kayak in the waters off San Cristobal Island
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    Image of the sunset in Panama
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Panama 12 Day Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Visit the Panama Canal Museum
    • Assist researchers at the Howler Monkey Research Center
    • Hike to a secluded waterfall in the cloud forest
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    View details Custom Group Travel
    Panama 10 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Meet with a representative from the Guna General Congress
    • Assist researchers at the Howler Monkey Research Center
    • Zip-line through the cloud forest
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    Image of monkeys in the jungle
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Panama 8 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Explore indigenous artisan and fish markets
    • Assist at the Howler Monkey Research Center
    • Visit the Panama Canal Museum
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    View details Custom Group Travel
    China 15 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Hand feed Giant Pandas at Dujiangyan
    • Visit the Chengdu Giant Panda Base
    • Homestay in Anlong Village, an organic farm
    • Experience traditional cormorant fishing
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    Image of a panda gnawing on a stick
    View details Custom Group Travel
    China 12 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Hand feed Giant Pandas at Dujiangyan
    • Visit the Chengdu Giant Panda Base
    • Homestay in Anlong Village, an organic farm
    • Explore the ancient village of Fuli
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    Image of students running out into the ocean
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Ecuador 15 Day Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Tour the historic downtown Quito
    • Experience Latin American culture in Otavalo
    • Explore Santa Lucia Nature Reserve in the cloud forest
    • Soak in the hot springs in the Andes
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    Image of a group of students posing in front of nature and rolling hills
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Ecuador 12 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Stay in an inhabited volcanic crater
    • Experience Latin American culture in Otavalo
    • Explore Santa Lucia Nature Reserve in the cloud forest
    • Relax in the hot springs in the Andes
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    Image of the high mountain pass
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Ecuador 10 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Stay in an inhabited volcanic crater
    • Shop at the large market at La Plaza de los Ponchos
    • Explore Santa Lucia Nature Reserve in the cloud forest
    • Experience ziplining and hot springs in the Andes
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    Image of Nanegal in Ecuador
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    Ecuador 7 Day Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Visit the Presidential Palace in Quito
    • Stay in an inhabited volcanic crater
    • Help researchers at the Santa Lucia Nature Reserve
    • Shop at the large market at La Plaza de los Ponchos
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    View details Custom Group Travel
    China 10 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Hand feed Giant Pandas at Dujiangyan
    • Visit the Chengdu Giant Panda Base
    • Visit Wuhou Temple in Chengdu
    • Explore Longji Rice Terraces
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    Africa Sojourn with Cohen Family June, 2006
    View details Custom Group Travel
    South Africa 12 Day Cultural Journey/Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
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    Image of participants engaging with children
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Costa Rica 10 Day Conservation Expedition

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    Program Highlights
    • Practice your Spanish skills with locals
    • Zip-line through the rain forrest
    • Whitewater raft down the Pacuare River
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    Image of Belize Coral
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Belize 15 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer at ECOMAR Field Station
    • Survey underwater manatees and sea turtles at Drowned Cayes
    • Kayak on the river with Maya Guides
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    Image of students swimming with turtles
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Belize 12 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer at ECOMAR Field Station
    • Survey underwater manatees and sea turtles at Drowned Cayes
    • Enjoy Maya Jungle Wildlife Night Walks
    • Kayak in the rainforest with Maya Guides
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    Image of students on a boat pointing out into the ocean
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Belize 10 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer at ECOMAR Field Station
    • Survey underwater manatees and sea turtles at Drowned Cayes
    • Visit Hol Chan Marine Reserve
    • Green Iguana Conservation and Rehabilitation Center
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    Image of a Belize dock
    View details Custom Group Travel
    Belize 7 Day Conservation Expedition

    Request A Quote

    Program Highlights
    • Volunteer at ECOMAR Field Station
    • Survey underwater manatees and sea turtles at Drowned Cayes
    • Visit Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
    • Green Iguana Conservation and Rehabilitation Center
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